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Chinese invasion of Taiwan would be 'grievous mistake': Blinken

Secretary of state nominee says US will give Taiwan 'means to deter aggression, to defend themselves'

Antony Blinken testifying on Capitol Hill. 

Antony Blinken testifying on Capitol Hill.  (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — President-elect Joe Biden's pick for secretary of state on Tuesday (Jan. 19) told senators that the U.S. will uphold its "longstanding commitment" to Taiwan and warned China that an invasion of that country would be a "grievous mistake."

During a confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday, Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken pledged that the U.S. will continue to honor its commitments to Taiwan and provide for its defense. He hinted at efforts to increase Taiwan's participation in international organizations and warned China against taking any military action against the country.

When asked by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) if the U.S. should continue to "guarantee Taiwanese democracy," Blinken said that Washington has an "abiding and longstanding and bipartisan commitment to Taiwan and to the Taiwan Relations Act." He stressed that the U.S. needs to ensure Taiwan has the ability "to deter aggression, to defend themselves."

In reference to an expanded role for Taiwan in international organizations, Blinken indicated that efforts would be taken to see "Taiwan even more engaged in the world." He pointed out that Taiwan is "in many ways a model democracy, a strong economy, and a technological powerhouse."

Blinken closed his thoughts on Taiwan by saying that the way Taiwan has handled the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak "has a lot of lessons to teach us."

Graham then stated that if the CCP chose to use military force against Taiwan it would "create great upheaval throughout the world, and they would pay a heavy price." He then asked if Blinken concurred with that statement.

Blinken swiftly responded by saying, "That would be a grievous mistake on their part."

When asked what the U.S. can do to get the CCP's attention over Hong Kong, Blinken lamented that stronger steps had not been taken earlier and pointed out that the draconian national security law and crackdown on media, free speech, and assembly has left freedom and autonomy in the city "in tatters." He emphasized that the U.S. should take in Hong Kong activists trying to flee repression for "standing up for their democratic rights."

When Graham asked if he would agree with outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that the Chinese Communist Party has committed genocide against the Ughyur Muslim population, Blinken said: "That would be my judgment as well."