China has made a decision to seize Taiwan on a “much faster timeline” than previously thought, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday, shortly after China’s leader reiterated his intent to take the island by force if necessary.
“There has been a change in the approach from Beijing toward Taiwan in recent years,” Blinken said in an event at Stanford University in California.
The remarks from America’s top diplomat on Monday come as China holds its twice-a-decade Communist party congress, and shortly after Chinese President Xi Jinping used a widely-watched speech on Sunday to say the “wheels of history are rolling on towards China’s reunification” with Taiwan. While peaceful means were preferable, Xi added, “we reserve the option of taking all measures necessary.”
Responding to Blinken’s remarks on Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin criticized the US for selling billions in advanced weapons to Taiwan and accused the Biden administration of encouraging the island’s move toward formal independence.
“Resolving the Taiwan question is a matter for the Chinese, a matter that must be resolved by the Chinese,” Wang told reporters at a regular briefing. “We are ready to create vast space for peaceful reunification, but we will leave no room for separatist activities in any form.”
Although Biden administration officials have regularly accused China of eroding the balance of power in the Taiwan Strait, comments about Beijing’s intentions with regard to an invasion are less common.