Taiwan: China and Russia disrupt and threaten the world order
The Taiwanese leader said on Friday that China and Russia were “disrupting and threatening the world order” through Beijing’s recent large-scale military exercises near the island and Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Speaker Tsai Ing-wen was speaking at a meeting in Taipei with U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn, who is on the second visit by members of Congress since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip earlier this month. The visit prompted China to launch the drills which saw it fire numerous missiles and send dozens of warplanes and ships to virtually encircle the island, including across the median line in the Taiwan Strait. which has long been a buffer between the parties.
China claims Taiwan as its own territory to be brought under its control by force if necessary. Beijing has also strengthened its relations with Russia and is seen as tacitly supporting its attack on Ukraine.
“These developments show how authoritarian countries disrupt and threaten the world order,” Tsai said.
Blackburn, a Republican from Tennessee, reaffirmed the values shared between the two governments and said she “looks forward to continuing to support Taiwan as they move forward as an independent nation.”
China views high-level foreign visits to the island as interference in its affairs and de facto recognition of Taiwanese sovereignty. The recent Chinese military exercises were seen by some as a rehearsal for future military action against the island, which US military leaders say could take place in the next few years.
Along with staging the drills, China has cut off contact with the United States on vital issues – including military issues and crucial climate cooperation – raising concerns about a sustained and more aggressive approach by Beijing. He also called US Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns to complain formally. He later said China was overreacting in order to manufacture a crisis.
Due to the separation of powers in the US government, the executive branch does not have the power to prevent lawmakers from making such overseas visits, and Taiwan enjoys strong bipartisan support in Washington. China, whose ruling Communist Party exercises complete control over the country’s politics, refuses to recognize this fundamental principle.
US State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said members of Congress and elected officials “have visited Taiwan for decades and will continue to do so”, saying it was in line with US policy to maintain only formal diplomatic relations with Beijing.
“We will continue to take calm and resolute action to maintain peace and stability in the region and to support Taiwan in accordance with our longstanding policy,” Patel said during a briefing on Thursday.
Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu told reporters on Friday that “China’s motivation is to destroy the status quo of the Taiwan Strait, and after that, they want to reduce Taiwan’s defensive space.”
Taiwan seeks enhanced defense cooperation and additional armaments from the United States, as well as closer economic ties.
During their meeting, Tsai and Blackburn stressed the importance of economic ties, particularly in the semiconductor sector, where Taiwan is a world leader and the United States is seeking more investment at home.
Blackburn arrived in Taipei on Thursday evening after visiting Fiji, the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea as part of a US campaign to “expand our diplomatic footprint in the region,” her office said in a statement. .
“The Indo-Pacific region is the next frontier of the new axis of evil,” Blackburn, a supporter of former President Donald Trump, reportedly said. “We must oppose the Chinese Communist Party.”
China has made inroads in the Western Pacific, signing a sweeping security deal with the Solomons that the United States and allies such as Australia see as an attempt to overturn the traditional security order in the region.
Pelosi was the highest-ranking member of the US government to visit Taiwan in 25 years. China’s response was to announce six areas surrounding the island for military exercises that included firing missiles over the island, some of which landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
After Pelosi’s trip, a delegation of House and Senate members visited. This week, the Governor of Indiana paid a visit focused on business and academic cooperation. US politicians have called their visits a show of support for the island.
“Just landed in Taiwan to send a message to Beijing – we won’t be intimidated,” Blackburn said in an early morning tweet on Friday. “The United States remains committed to preserving freedom around the world and will not tolerate efforts aimed at undermining our nation and our allies.”
During his three-day visit, Blackburn is also scheduled to meet with the head of Taiwan’s National Security Council.
Washington has no formal diplomatic relations with Taipei out of respect for China, but remains the island’s biggest security guard, with US law obligating it to ensure Taiwan has the means to defend itself and to regard the threats to the island as matters of “grave concern”.
Taiwan and China separated in 1949 after a civil war and have no official relations but are linked by billions of dollars in trade and investment.
China has increased its pressure on Taiwan since electing pro-independence Tsai as president. When Tsai refused to endorse the one Chinese nation concept, China cut off all contact with the Taiwanese government.
US congressional visits to the island have increased over the past year.
On Thursday, the executive branch of the Taiwanese government outlined plans for a 12.9 percent increase in the Defense Ministry’s annual budget next year. The government plans to spend an additional 47.5 billion New Taiwan dollars ($1.6 billion), for a total of NTD 415.1 billion ($13.8 billion) for the year.
The Defense Ministry said the increase is due to “the Chinese Communists’ continued expansion of targeted military activities in recent years, the normalization of their harassment of waters and airspace near Taiwan with ships and warplanes.
Also on Thursday, the Defense Ministry said it tracked four Chinese navy ships and 15 warplanes in the region surrounding the island.
Associated Press writer Wu Huizhong contributed to this report.