0224: Taiwan Not a “Provocateur” but a “Peace-Loving Country,” European Parliament’s New Security Policies with Pro-Taiwan Provisions

Taiwan Not a “Provocateur” but a “Peace-Loving Country,” Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Says

Taiwan will not be a “provocateur” across the Taiwan Strait, but will continue to beef up its defense capabilities to protect its democratic way of life in the event of a Chinese invasion, Taiwan’s foreign minister said on February 22.

“Taiwan is a peace-loving country, and we want to maintain our stable line of rhetoric in thinking about cross-strait relations,” Taiwan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu said during a public conversation with Mark Esper, who served as U.S. secretary of defense in the Donald Trump administration.

“We don’t want to be a provocateur in a cross-strait conflict,” minister Wu said during an online appearance with Esper held by the McCain Institute for International Leadership.

As Esper’s guest during the talk, Wu was asked questions covering a wide range of issues, many of which focused on Taiwan’s relations with China and how Taipei perceives Beijing’s intentions.

Asked point blank if and when China might invade Taiwan, Wu stressed that to Taiwan it was not a matter of “if,” but “when,” as China has repeatedly threatened to take military action against the country.

“We don’t count on, you know, the calculation of when that will happen, when the Chinese will attack Taiwan, but we are counting on ourselves to be prepared. Whether it’s tomorrow, or next year, or 10 years from now, we will always be prepared,” Wu said.

To achieve that, Wu said, Taiwan is increasing its defense budget to boost its asymmetrical warfare capabilities and defensive arsenal and also develop a civil defense system so that China understands it will have to pay a heavy price if it initiates a conflict against Taiwan.

Esper asked Wu about the policy debate in Washington on whether the U.S. should have “strategic ambiguity” or “strategic clarity” toward Taiwan’s defense.

Wu said Taiwan saw no ambiguity in U.S. defense commitment to the country. “[The] support is there. And we are seeing more and more support, and that is highly appreciated,” Wu said, adding that “There used to be a ‘Red team’ (Republicans) or ‘Blue team’ (Democrats) in Washington D.C., but now it’s all ‘Taiwan team.’”

Esper also asked Wu about Taiwan’s bid to join the “Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership” (CPTPP), but the foreign minister’s answer focused more on the U.S.’ trade position.

Wu said he hoped the U.S. would reconsider rejoining the regional trade bloc to jointly guard against the expansion of China’s authoritarianism, and reiterated Taiwan’s hope of signing a free trade agreement (FTA) directly with the United States.

[1] McCain Institute: https://www.mccaininstitute.org/resources/events/conversations-with-sec-mark-esper-taiwanese-foreign-minister-joseph-wu/
[2] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202202230006
[3] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2022/02/24/2003773671

European Parliament Adopts Security Policies with Pro-Taiwan Provisions

On February 17, the European Parliament adopted two security policies, including provisions that call for peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and support Taiwan’s meaningful participation in international organizations.

In the newly adopted “Common Foreign and Security Policy” (CFSP), the European Parliament urged the European Union (EU) and its member states to take a proactive role in working with like-minded international partners to pursue peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and to establish partnerships with the democratic government of Taiwan.

In the CFSP report, the parliament also “strongly advocates for Taiwan’s meaningful participation as an observer in meetings, mechanisms and activities of international organizations and for deeper EU-Taiwan cooperation, including a bilateral investment agreement (BIA).”

In the “Common Security and Defense Policy” (CSDP), the parliament expressed increasing concerns about China’s arms build-up and military posture, in particular the reported test of a hypersonic missile and increasing intrusions of Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ).

The parliament said it “calls for all parties concerned to resolve their differences through peaceful means and to de-escalate the tensions as well as to refrain from taking unilateral action to change the status quo.”

The CSDP report further mentioned that any unilateral action that could undermine the status quo in the Taiwan Strait and any change to cross-strait relations, must not be made against the will of Taiwan’s citizens.

Meanwhile, in an interview with Nikkei Asia on February 20, France’s Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian also said that security in the Taiwan Strait is essential for the stability of the Indo-Pacific region, and that Paris is “very keen to act to prevent any conflict.”

“We condemn any attempt to undermine the status quo [in the Taiwan Strait], any action likely to cause an incident that would lead to an escalation,” Le Drain said. “This is a concern we share with our European partners.”

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202202170014
[2] Nikkei Asia: https://asia.nikkei.com/Editor-s-Picks/Interview/France-slams-China-s-attempts-to-break-the-status-quo-on-Taiwan