September 15, 2021
TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan is a “sea fortress” blocking China’s expansion into the Pacific and is willing to share with other democracies its knowledge of countering Beijing’s efforts to undermine it, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu told a U.S. audience on Wednesday.
The United States, like most countries, does not have formal diplomatic ties with Chinese-claimed Taiwan, but is the democratically ruled island’s most important international backer and arms supplier.
China has stepped up military and diplomatic pressure against Taiwan since President Tsai Ing-wen first won office in 2016, seeking to force Taipei to accept Beijing’s sovereignty claims, to the alarm of both Taipei and Washington.
Addressing an online forum organised by the Global Taiwan Institute on Taiwan-U.S. relations and attended by several former senior U.S. officials, Wu said Taiwan played a “significant role” in ensuring freedom of navigation in the strategically important Taiwan Strait and South China Sea.
“Both of them are critical to peace and stability in the Indo Pacific region,” he said. “Most importantly, a democratic Taiwan serves as a sea fortress to block China’s expansionism into the wider Pacific.”
China claims Taiwan as its territory to legitimise its aggression and expansionism, Wu said, adding: “Isn’t this irredentism precisely what gave rise to the Second World War?”
Taiwan faces not only military threats from China, but also cyber attacks, disinformation campaigns and other “grey zone” tactics, he added.
“Taiwan has learned valuable lessons and developed various means to tackle the threat to democracy, and we are more than willing to share this knowledge with fellow democracies.”
There was no immediate response to his comments from China.
Earlier on Wednesday, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office repeated warnings for Taipei’s government not to try and seek formal independence for the island, saying such “wanton provocations and evil acts” would only threaten peace and stability.
China says Taiwan is the most important and sensitive issue in its relations with the United States.
Taiwan says only its people can decide the island’s future.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Bernadette Baum)