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US reassures Taiwan on security as China increases threats

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American Institute in Taiwan Director Brent Christensen speaks during a press conference in Taipei, Taiwan on Wednesday. AP file photo

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01st-Nov-2018       
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AP, Taipei :
Any attempt to determine Taiwan's future by "other than peaceful means" is a threat to regional security and a matter of "grave concern" to the United States, Washington's de facto ambassador to Taipei said Wednesday, in a nod to Chinese military intimidation against the island.
Brent Christensen also said Washington would continue military sales to Taiwan while promoting its participation in the international community that Beijing increasingly seeks to restrict.
China considers Taiwan its own territory to be absorbed using force if necessary. It has lately stepped up its threats in an attempt to undermine President Tsai Ing-wen, who has refused to bow to Beijing's demand that she recognize Taiwan as a part of China. The U.S. cut formal ties with Taiwan in 1979 to recognize Beijing but the two maintain robust unofficial military and diplomatic ties. Those relations are underpinned by the Taiwan Relations Act, which requires the U.S. to ensure that Taiwan has the ability to defend itself and U.S. policy "has not changed" in the 40 years since its passage, Christensen said at a news conference.
"Any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means represents a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific area and is of grave concern to the United States," said Christensen, who heads the American Institute in Taiwan,which functions as an embassy in all but name. "We are opposed to unilateral attempts to change the status quo."
Christensen pointed to a recent $330 million arms sale to Taiwan as evidence of Washington's fulfilling its obligation to support Taiwan in "maintaining a sufficient self-defense capability against coercion."
"Promoting security cooperation and improving Taiwan's self-defense capability go hand in hand," he said.

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