United States ‘won’t give in to China’ on Taiwan or South China Sea


Washington wants to maintain high-level diplomatic engagement with Beijing but won’t give in to its demands over the South China Sea and Taiwan, according to a senior US diplomat.

The comments came after Chinese President Xi Jinping and US Vice-President Mike Pence traded barbs over trade practices at the Apec summit in Papua New Guinea, where the bloc failed for the first time to produce a joint statement.

In Hong Kong on Monday, Patrick Murphy, from the US State Department’s bureau of East Asian and Pacific affairs, said the United States had kept up high-level diplomatic engagement with China in both bilateral and multilateral dialogues despite the trade war between the two countries.

Murphy, one of the senior diplomats accompanying Pence in his Asia tour last week, said the South China Sea and Taiwan issues were the most challenging problems holding back China-US ties, but Beijing should bear the key responsibility for complicating and deepening the seriousness of the two issues.

Apec summit ends without agreement following US-China clashes
“Our concern in both issues is we have managed the relations with the status quo for decades, and China is changing that status quo both on Taiwan and the South China Sea, and this is leading to tensions … [and] confusion for many and further complications,” he said.

“We want to contribute in any way possible to the success. But how can you have a dialogue at the same time, where a country is building, reclaiming and militarising … that undercuts the faith?”

Murphy was referring to Beijing’s transformation of seven coral reefs in the contested waters into artificial islands and its decision to deploy troops and weapons on the new outposts.