Blinken Faults China for Slow Response on Coronavirus

Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during the release of the 2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices at the State Department in Washington DC

Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during the release of the 2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices at the State Department in Washington DC

The zone is situated over waters southwest of Taiwan.

A Chinese H-6 bomber is seen flying near Taiwan's ADIZ in September a year ago.

Two anti-submarine aircraft and an early warning aircraft also took part, Taiwan's defence minister said.

Ministry officials said the Chinese aircraft flew into the zone from Chinese airspace and headed back along the same route.

"Preventing another pandemic is a goal that we all share, but giving China a slap on the wrist after it continued to lie to the world and heightened the severity of the current pandemic is only going to make that goal harder to achieve", he added.

U.S. lawmakers plan to introduce legislation next week that would put additional sanctions on Chinese officials; build closer United States relations with Taiwan and place more checks on Beijing's military operations and territorial claims, among other measures meant to counter China and the threat it poses on human rights and maritime security.

Russian Federation this month announced the beginning of military drills, heightening concerns about the risk of new clashes along the border with Ukraine that could lead to a broader conflict.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned China against encroaching on Taiwan, and blamed secrecy by the government in Beijing for helping to hasten the spread of COVID-19.

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The American delegation is led by Special Envoy Robert Malley, who helped negotiate the original deal back in 2015. The choreography of the talks, in the hands of the Austrian host government, is particularly challenging.

Last week, comments from a State Department spokesperson suggested the USA would be considering a boycott, but the Biden administration clarified that is not on the table right now. China has expressed opposition in recent days to a series of computerized war games that Taiwan is conducting to simulate how the island might respond to a potential Chinese invasion.

China describes Taiwan as its most sensitive territorial issue and a red line the U.S. should not cross.

China's increasing pressure on the island, which Beijing regards as a renegade province awaiting reunification by force if necessary, has been a source of concern in the United States. It has never renounced the possible use of force to bring about eventual unification.

However, Taiwanese people see themselves an independent state and the dispute with their giant neighbour has left relations frayed with the constant threat of violence.

China has in the past described such missions as being to protect the country's sovereignty and deal with "collusion" between Taipei and Washington.

Taiwan's foreign minister Joseph Wu has previously said the country will fight "to the very last day" if China attacks.

Over the weekend, military activity near the Philippines spiked as a Chinese aircraft carrier entered the region, and the U.S. military is preparing joint drills with the Philippine military nearby.

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