• Directory of Taiwan

Blinken says US, allies will 'take action' if China attacks Taiwan

US secretary of state did not specify extent of such ‘action’

Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken. (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told a New York Times reporter on Wednesday (Nov. 10) that his country and its allies would take “action” were China to use force against Taiwan.

Yet Blinken remained vague on exactly what kind of “action” this would be. Instead, he rolled out familiar talking points about Washington’s legal obligation to ensure Taiwan has the means to defend itself, according to a Reuters report.

"At the same time, I think it’s fair to say that we’re not alone in this determination to make sure that we preserve peace and stability in that part of the world," Blinken said. "There are many countries, both in the region and beyond, that would see any unilateral action to use force to disrupt the status quo as a significant threat to peace and security, and they too would take action in the event that that happens,” he added.

Debate has been raging in U.S. policy circles over “strategic ambiguity” toward Taiwan since President Biden's public assurances last month that the country would act if China did indeed attack Taiwan.

Richard Haas, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, has called for the U.S. defense commitment to be made explicit, arguing this would more effectively deter China from attacking. However, Nicholas Burns, the new U.S. ambassador to China, last month framed strategic ambiguity as an effective policy, pointing out that it has maintained peace in the Taiwan Strait for decades.

The debate has also garnered international attention, especially within Australia, a key U.S. ally in the region, with experts from Australia’s leading university and the editorial team of The Australian — the country’s most widely-read newspaper — calling for strategic clarity on Taiwan.

Meanwhile, former Director of the American Institute in Taiwan William Stanton has called for more concrete action to be taken and a “more forthright statement” from the U.S. on the matter. He has also emphasized that American officials should include Taiwan in the conversation about the strategy.

Blinken's latest remarks come ahead of a virtual summit between Biden and China's Chairman Xi, which may happen as early as next week, according to Reuters sources.