Blinken doubled down on China warning.
“If China determines this is necessary, it will have terrible consequences,” he said.
Blinken — the most senior U.S. diplomat to travel to China — declined to give specifics about how the U.S. would respond to any attack, but said the Chinese had suffered a “series of blows in the last year,” including the withdrawal of American troops from the island of Guam.
The veiled threat comes as Vice President Mike Pence suggested the U.S. would push back against China’s growing economy.
“President Trump has accepted his responsibilities in leading the free world and the American economy is in the strongest position in history,” Pence said at an event in Washington that was organized by the American Enterprise Institute.
But Pence also added that the trade war would only go on as long as Trump believes it is “morally right” to do so.
In the past, China has grown increasingly nervous that the U.S. will come to the assistance of Taiwan should Beijing decide to strike.
Xi Jinping met with Blinken twice last year in attempts to defuse tensions, but China still insists on the island’s access to air space and waters and on a declaration by the new Taiwanese president that the two sides will form a political alliance.
For now, observers say China appears to be staying calm.
“It’s consistent with their approach of limiting their escalation to a minimum so the U.S. will get more out of it,” said Bonnie Glaser, senior adviser and Asia adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.