‘We’re not bullies!’ China hits back at neighbours as Taiwan tensions soar

China: Expert issues warning over Taiwan intervention

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Addressing the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Monday, Mr Xi said that hegemony was not China’s goal, but that it would work with the other nations of ASEAN to reduce “interference.” Chinese state media quoted Mr Xi as stating: “China was, is, and will always be a good neighbour, good friend, and good partner of ASEAN.”

Conflicting territorial claims in the South China Sea heighten discord between China and other ASEAN nations, including the Philippines.

This also comes after the Philippines claim that Chinese coastguard vessels used water cannons against Philippine resupply boats last week.

This was condemned by the United States as “dangerous, provocative, and unjustified.”

US State Department spokesperson, Ned Price, said: “The United States stands with our Philippine allies in upholding the rules-based international maritime order.”

He added that the US “reaffirms that an armed attack on Philippine public vessels in the South China Sea would invoke US mutual defence commitments.”

President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, told Mr Xi: “This does not speak well of the relations between our nations.”

Mr Xi’s comments follow China’s downgrading of diplomatic relations with Lithuania, after the Baltic country permitted a de facto embassy in their capital, Vilnius.

In a statement, the foreign ministry announced that diplomatic relations will be downgraded to charge d’affaires in opposition to this de facto embassy for Taiwan.

They said: “The Chinese government had to lower diplomatic relations between the two countries […] in order to safeguard its sovereignty and the basic norms of international relations.”

The statement added: “The Lithuanian government must bear all consequences that arise from this.”

Allowing Taipei to open a diplomatic centre in Vilnius goes against the Chinese government’s vigorous attempts to keep the island under its influence.

Beijing pushes its One China policy – a diplomatic acknowledgement of a single government ruling China and Taiwan.

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Lithuania’s counterpart foreign ministry expressed regret over China’s decision to downgrade relations.

In a statement, they said: “Lithuania reaffirms its adherence to the One China policy, but at the same time has the right to expand cooperation with Taiwan.”

Taiwan is another source of escalating tensions in the South China Sea, with Taiwan’s leader, Tsai Ing-wen, warning of “catastrophic consequences” if Chinese military incursions continue in Taiwanese airspace.

At the start of October, Taipei warned of record numbers of Chinese aircraft incursions in Taiwanese airspace, adding that Taiwan would “do whatever it takes to defend itself” against Beijing.

Ms Tsai, writing in Foreign Affairs magazine, described how “the story of Taiwan is not only about the maintenance of our own democratic way of life.

“It is also about the strength and sense of responsibility Taiwan brings to efforts to safeguard the stability of the region and the world.”

She continued: “As countries increasingly recognize the threat that the Chinese Communist Party poses, they should understand the value of working with Taiwan”.

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