10:36 GMT25 July 2021
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    The Taiwan issue reemerged as a major sore point in relations between China and the United States as soon as President Biden stepped into office in January, with the decision to invite the island’s de-facto ambassador to the president’s inauguration slammed by Beijing and resulting in an escalation of tensions.

    China’s Taiwan Affairs office has urged outside powers to step back and avoid meddling in the island’s affairs, and called on local political forces to stop their "independence" rhetoric.

    “We will never tolerate attempts to seek independence or wanton intervention in the Taiwan issue by foreign forces, so we need to make a strong response to these acts of collusion,” Taiwan Office spokesperson Ma Xiaoguang said in a press statement after being asked about Beijing’s military activities near the island.

    Ma’s comments followed the Taiwanese Defence Ministry’s announcement late on Tuesday that a record 28 People’s Liberation Army Air Force aircraft, including fighters, maritime strike, and strategic bombers, and early warning and control aircraft had entered Taipei’s so-called "Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ)" in the space of 24 hours, flying over the disputed Pratas Islands and near the island’s southern tip.

    The People’s Republic does not recognise Taipei’s ADIZ, and considers Taiwan itself to be an inalienable part of China – similarly to how Taiwan formally claims mainland China to be its territory.

    Tuesday’s PLAAF flyby came as the US deployed another carrier strike group into the highly-contested South China Sea, and amid reports that the Pentagon was considering creating a permanent task force in the Pacific region to “counter China,” adding to the hundreds of military bases and 130,000 troops the US already has in the region.

    On Sunday, the leaders of the G7 nations issued a statement criticising China over a host of issues, Taiwan among them, stressing the “importance of peace and stability” across the Taiwan Strait. The government in Taipei welcomed the statement, saying Taiwan was a “force for good” in the world and vowing to seek additional support from other countries.

    Beijing blasted the statement, with the Chinese Embassy in the UK saying that “China’s internal affairs must not be interfered in, China’s reputation must not be slandered, and China’s interests must not be violated.” The Embassy added that it considered the G7’s position on Taiwan and the situations in Xinjiang and Hong Kong to be a distortion of the facts which exposed the “sinister intentions of a few countries such as the United States.”

    The Biden administration has been beefing up military aid to Taiwan and expanding diplomatic support to the island since he took office in January, with the White House sending a diplomatic delegation to the island in April to “signal” the president’s “personal” commitment to Taipei.

    A month before that, US Indo-Pacific Command chief Admiral Philip Davidson warned lawmakers in Washington that China could “invade” Taiwan within “the next six years.” Beijing dismissed the “invasion” claims, saying that “some US people” were using the Taiwan issue to “hype up China’s military threat” as an excuse to ramp up America’s military spending and meddling abroad.

    Last week, a group of US senators arrived in Taiwan to express US support to the island. China’s defence ministry blasted the visit as a “vile provocation.”

    Also last week, US Secretary of State Antony BLinken confirmed that Washington was “engaged in conversations” with Taiwan and would soon be working on “some kind of framework agreement” with tis government. He also confirmed US plans to provide additional weapons to the island amid “real concerns” about Beijing’s “aggression.”

    Washington is formally committed to the so-called One China policy recognising the People’s Republic as the sole representative of China internationally after severing diplomatic ties with Taipei in the late 1970s. Unofficially, the US has continued to provide diplomatic and military assistance to the island throughout the decades, and supported efforts by the island’s politicians to prevent Taiwan’s peaceful reunification with the mainland.

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