US President Joe Biden, Chinese warship in South China Sea and Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen Photograph:( Agencies )
China sent more fighter jets into Taiwan's air defense zone on Wednesday in a stepped-up show of force around the island Beijing claims as its own, and Taiwan's foreign minister said it would fight to the end if China attacks
The United States on Wednesday warned China against what the Philippines and Taiwan see as increasingly aggressive moves, reminding Beijing of Washington's obligations to its partners.
State Department spokesman Ned Price reiterated at a regular briefing that the US commitment to Taiwan was "rock solid."
"An armed attack against the Philippines' armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft in the Pacific, including in the South China Sea, will trigger our obligations under the US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty," Price told reporters.
"We share the concerns of our Philippine allies regarding the continued reported massing of PRC maritime militia near the Whitsun Reef," Price said, referring to the People's Republic of China.
China sent more fighter jets into Taiwan's air defense zone on Wednesday in a stepped-up show of force around the island Beijing claims as its own, and Taiwan's foreign minister said it would fight to the end if China attacks.
China, which claims almost the entirety of the resource-rich sea, has refused weeks of appeals by the Philippines to withdraw the vessels, which Manila says unlawfully entered its exclusive economic zone.
Price voiced "concern" about the Chinese moves, saying: "The United States maintains the capacity to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security or the social or economic system of the people on Taiwan."
He was using language from the Taiwan Relations Act, under which the United States is obliged to provide the island with the means to defend itself against Beijing.
President Joe Biden has vowed a robust defense of allies and, in a rare point of continuity with his predecessor Donald Trump, has supported strong pushback against Chinese assertiveness.
The democratic self-governed island has complained of repeated military activities by Beijing in recent months, with China's air force making almost daily forays in Taiwan's air defense identification zone. On Monday, China said an aircraft carrier group was exercising close to the island.
Taiwan's Defence Ministry said 15 Chinese aircraft, including 12 fighters, entered its air defense identification zone, with an anti-submarine aircraft flying to the south through the Bashi Channel between Taiwan and the Philippines.
Taiwan's air force sent up aircraft to intercept and warn the Chinese away, the ministry added.
Adding to the stepped-up military activity, the US Navy said its John S. McCain guided-missile destroyer conducted a "routine" transit of the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday.