U.S. and allies would 'take action' if Taiwan attacked - Blinken

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FILE PHOTO: Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a U.S.-Egypt strategic dialogue with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry at the State Department

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States and its allies would take unspecified "action" if China were to use force to alter the status quo over Taiwan, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday.

Blinken was asked at a forum hosted by the New York Times whether the United States would step in to defend Taiwan in the event of an attack by China. He repeated regular U.S. statements that Washington's role is to make sure the island has the means to defend itself, as is required under U.S. law.

"At the same time, I think it’s fair to say that we’re not alone in this determination to make sure that we preserve peace and stability in that part of the world," Blinken added.

"There are many countries, both in the region and beyond, that would see any unilateral action to use force to disrupt the status quo as a significant threat to peace and security, and they too would take action in the event that that happens."

Blinken did not say what sort of action he was referring to.

U.S. President Joe Biden caused a stir last month when he said the United States would come to Taiwan's defense if China attacked.

Those remarks appeared to depart from a long held policy of "strategic ambiguity", not making clear how the United States would respond. But the White House quickly said Biden was not signaling a change in policy, and some analysts dismissed his comments as a gaffe.

The Democratic chairman of the influential House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, last week urged the Biden administration to be less ambiguous about what he called a U.S. obligation to defend Taiwan from attack by China.

Blinken's remarks came ahead of a planned virtual meeting between Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, which a source briefed on the matter told Reuters will be held as soon as next week.

Asked if the meeting would happen next week, Blinken said it was "coming up soon" but was not more specific.

(Reporting by David Brunnstrom; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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