The US opposes unilateral attempts to alter the status quo in Taiwan, including by force, and its stance on Taiwan has not changed, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Southeast Asian peers on Thursday.

He told a gathering in Cambodia, a day after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan, that cross-strait stability is in the interests of the whole region. It was the highest-level visit by the United States in 25 years, aggravating China, which claims the self-ruled island as part of its territory.

“We and countries around the world believe that escalation serves no one and could have unintended consequences that serve no one’s interests, including ASEAN members, and including China,” Blinken said.

On Thursday, China conducted the largest-ever military exercises outside Taiwan, while Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that China has made every diplomatic effort to avoid a crisis, but would never allow its basic interests to be jeopardized. 

Blinken is in Cambodia for a security-focused gathering of more than 27 nations, where they will tackle a food problem caused by the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Taiwan Strait stability, and the Myanmar situation.

During their meeting, Blinken and ASEAN vowed to elevate their relationship to a comprehensive strategic alliance.

He previously met with Qatar’s foreign minister to discuss events in Afghanistan and Iran, and with his Indian colleague Subrahmanyam Jaishankar to address Sri Lanka’s economic situation.

Later, he met with Sri Lanka’s new foreign minister, Ali Sabry, and vowed his support for the nation in the midst of an economic and political crisis, which he described as a fresh challenge and opportunity. 

Blinken said that the US supported Sri Lanka and the International Monetary Fund in reaching an equitable debt restructuring agreement.

“There’s an opportunity in this moment, to create a more inclusive, representative, democratic, responsive government,” Blinken added. “And to use this crisis to seize that opportunity to make something very positive about a very difficult situation.”

In a rare encounter, he told Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen that the US desired “a strong, positive relationship” between the two countries, despite the long-serving leader’s crackdown on the opposition and tighter military ties with partner China.

The US has demanded more openness from Cambodia about the building of its Ream naval port with Chinese assistance, which the US views as Beijing’s effort to gain influence in the area.

Blinken declared that the US will contribute $25 million in food assistance and agricultural cooperation to Cambodia to alleviate food shortages induced by Russia’s “aggression” in Ukraine.

Source: Reuters

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