0212: China’s Coercion of Taiwan, US-Taiwan High-level Engagement

The U.S. Raises Serious Concerns about China’s Coercion of Taiwan

On February 5, Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke tough in a phone call with his Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi. Blinken warned that the U.S. will work together with allies to hold China accountable for “its efforts to threaten stability in the Indo-Pacific, including across the Taiwan Strait,” a State Department statement said. “I made clear the US will defend our national interests, stand up for our democratic values, and hold Beijing accountable for its abuses of the international system,” Blinken tweeted. [1] 

On February 10, President Joe Biden made his first phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping, to offer good wishes to the Chinese people for lunar new year, and also to raise concerns about China’s coercion of Taiwan. “President Biden underscored his fundamental concerns about Beijing’s coercive and unfair economic practices, crackdown in Hong Kong, human rights abuses in Xinjiang, and increasingly assertive actions in the region, including toward Taiwan,” according to a White House account of the conversation. [2]

The Biden-Xi call came just hours after Biden announced the establishment of a Pentagon task force on China to review and counter China’s increasing threat. The latest Pentagon report on China sounded the alarm over China’s rapid military buildup. [3] Late last month, China sent unusual large fleet of fighter jets, bombers, and reconnaissance planes into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on two consecutive days. It was widely interpreted as a message to the newly inaugurated Biden. [4] 

FAPA believes that a crucial piece of the U.S. effort should be continuing to ensure Taiwan’s ability to defend itself and to make clear that the U.S. will help Taiwan counter any potential Chinese invasion. 

U.S. Tweet Signals the Continuation of High-level Engagement with Taiwan

A meeting between Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to the U.S. and a senior State Department official on February 10 and its public announcement indicates continuing US-Taiwan high-level contacts under President Biden’s administration.

The meeting was confirmed by the State Department’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, which tweeted a photo of Hsiao Bi-khim, Taiwan’s representative to the United States, and Sung Kim, acting assistant secretary of the bureau. “The U.S. is deepening ties with Taiwan, a leading democracy and important economic and security partner,” the tweet said.

It was the first formal meeting between Taiwanese and U.S. high officials under the new Biden administration. The background of the tweeted photo indicated the meeting took place at the State Department. And by publicly announcing the meeting between Hsiao and Kim, it is believed that the new U.S. government intends to continue high-level engagement with Taiwan, as was seen under former Trump administration.

As the U.S. decades-old and self-imposed restrictions on official contact with Taiwan have been lifted since January, FAPA urges the new Biden administration to expand high-level visits between the two countries and to fully implement the Taiwan Travel Act, which allows top leaders of Taiwan to come to DC — including Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen.

Source: Focus Taiwan