Taiwan has welcomed the support of key allies after a ministerial forum between the United States and Australia promised closer ties with the island and the European Parliament called for a bilateral trade agreement.
A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry also cautiously noted the British prime minister’s refusal to rule out engaging in a war with China over the island, but said Taiwan was not asking anyone to fight on its behalf.
The remarks come amid growing international concern over China’s aggression in the Indo-Pacific region and a day after the US, UK and Australia announced the Aukus Pact, a major new security partnership, widely seen as a measure designed to counter Beijing.
On Friday, senior government ministers at the annual US-Australian ministerial consultation (Ausmin) declared their mutual intention to “strengthen ties with Taiwan,” which they described as a “leading democracy and a critical partner for both countries.”
“The United States and Australia reiterated their continued support for a peaceful resolution of cross-strait problems without resorting to threats or coercion,” Ausmin’s joint statement said.
In response, the Taiwanese Foreign Ministry “sincerely thanked” the United States and Australia for their “strong and open” support.
“Building on the existing solid foundation, our government will continue to work closely with the United States, Australia, and other like-minded countries to expand Taiwan’s international space, safeguard democracy and shared values, and an international order based on in rules, and jointly safeguard peace, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region, ”said ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou.
Taiwan is considered at risk of attack or invasion by China, which claims it as a province. Unification is a key goal of Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who has not ruled out taking Taiwan by force. Beijing views the democratically elected government of Taiwan as separatists, but Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has said that Taiwan is already a sovereign country that does not need to declare its independence.
Ausmin’s statement from government representatives was also highly critical of China for its actions in the South China Sea and human rights abuses. In response, the Chinese embassy in Canberra said it would “strongly oppose and reject the unfounded accusations and erroneous comments.”
“This little move to pressure China will do no good, but a staged farce.”
On Thursday, China accused the newly formed Aukus of having “an outdated zero-sum cold war mentality and narrow-minded geopolitical concepts.” Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the decision to grant Australia, a signatory to the non-proliferation treaty, nuclear technology was an “extremely irresponsible” case of double standards.
As China’s aggression in the region has grown and Taipei has courted alliances, Western nations have lobbied for greater inclusion of Taiwan on the diplomatic world stage and have shown increasing support to defend it against China.
None of the Aukus nations recognize Taiwan as a country. Instead, they have formal ties only with the government of the People’s Republic of China, which claims that Taiwan is a Chinese province under its “One China Principle.”
Several other nations have their own “One China” policies, which set the level of recognition their governments accord to Beijing’s policy. The United States and Australia, for example, recognize but do not recognize Beijing’s claim on Taiwan.
Following Aukus’ announcement on Thursday, former British Prime Minister Theresa May asked Johnson: “What are the implications of this pact for the position the UK would take in its response if China tries to invade Taiwan?”
In response, Johnson was careful not to discount anything. “The UK remains determined to uphold international law and that is the strong advice we would give to our friends around the world, and the strong advice we would give to the government in Beijing,” he said.
Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry declined to comment on whether or how it sees the UK involved in the conflict eventuality. Foreign Minister Joseph Wu previously told The Guardian that he saw countries like Australia and Japan likely offering logistical or intelligence support, rather than military.
On Friday, Ou said Taiwan welcomed the Aukus formation “but that does not imply that we are asking the UK to get involved in the conflict across the Taiwan Straits.”
“We are responsible for the national security of Taiwan, we are not asking the UK or any other country to fight on our behalf,” Ou said.
“Of course, we would greatly appreciate the support of the international community and like-minded countries, but that is not an imperative.”
Also on Thursday, the European Parliament passed a resolution that included recommendations for the European Union to “urgently” negotiate a trade agreement with Taiwan. Earlier this year, a years-negotiated trade deal between the EU and China was essentially frozen after tit-for-tat sanctions stemming from the EU’s concern over China’s human rights abuses, including in Xinjiang.
The resolution also called for concrete actions to facilitate Taiwan’s inclusion in the United Nations as an observer, and expressed “grave concern over China’s assertive and expansionary policies in the South China Sea, the East China Sea and the Taiwan Strait, especially China’s continued military provocation directed at Taiwan. “
“While China is an important trading partner, it is also a systemic rival that poses a challenge to our way of life and the liberal world order,” Hilde Vautmans, a member of the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee, said in the statement.
Margaret Lewis of Seton Hall Law School in New Jersey said the EU resolution was significant given the recent dispute between China and Lithuania over the latter’s support for Taiwan and to emphasize the importance of Taiwan to the market. global.
“I am encouraged to see vocal support from the EU, in part because as Beijing tries to intimidate Lithuania, it is important to show that this is not going to work,” he said.
“The EU did not need to make this statement; it was a decision to make a statement that they know Beijing would not view favorably.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism