0303: U.S. Delegation to Taiwan, Taiwan’s Sanctions Against Russia, U.S. Urged to Abandon Ambiguity on Taiwan’s Defense

Visiting U.S. Delegation Reiterates Firm Commitment to Taiwan Amid Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

On March 2, Mike Mullen said that the visit of his delegation to Taiwan sent by President Joe Biden was a clear testament to the strong U.S. commitment to Taiwan. While meeting with the delegation, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen pledged that Taiwan would join the collective effort of democracies worldwide to deter any military aggression that threatens the democratic way of life.

Led by former U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Mike Mullen, the delegation arrived in Taiwan on March 1 with four other former U.S. defense and security officials, including former deputy national security adviser Meghan O’Sullivan, former undersecretary of defense Michele Flournoy, and former National Security Council senior directors for Asian affairs Michael Greene and Evan Medeiros.

The American delegation visited Taiwan to voice bipartisan support for the strong and vital partnership between the U.S. and Taiwan, Mullen said when the group met with President Tsai at the Presidential Office on March 2.

“Maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait is not just a U.S. interest, but also a global one,” Mullen said, adding that “[the] United States will continue to oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo and will continue to support a peaceful resolution of cross-strait issues, consistent with the wishes and best interests of the people of Taiwan.”

Democratic partners around the world are facing “sustained and alarming challenges,” Mullen said, mentioning in particular the unfolding crisis in Ukraine.

President Tsai told the delegation that the visit’s timing demonstrates the importance the U.S. places on the bilateral partnership, and highlights Taiwan’s key role in regional and global security.

Besides its sanctions against Russia, Taiwan has begun providing aid to Ukraine, she said. “The crisis in Ukraine has shown the world that cooperation and coordinated action among democratic countries is crucial,” Tsai said, adding that “Taiwan cannot and will not be absent from this effort.”

Tsai also spoke about China’s rising military threat in the Taiwan Strait and the region, the limits placed on Taiwan’s international participation, and China’s use of cognitive warfare and disinformation to divide Taiwanese society and erode Taiwan’s democracy.

Despite the challenges, the Taiwanese “have worked even harder to safeguard our country,” she said. “We in Taiwan want the world to know that we have the determination to defend ourselves, and uphold our free and democratic way of life.”

Tsai added that Taiwan wished to work with the U.S. and other countries to contribute to the stability and security of the Indo-Pacific region.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ralph Johnson recently conducted a “routine transit” through the Taiwan Strait on February 26. The U.S. warship transit was meant as a warning to China not to make any rash moves on Taiwan in the wake of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Taiwanese defense experts said.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202203020007
[2] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2022/03/03/2003774093
[3] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/cross-strait/202202260017

Taiwan to Join International Sanctions Against Russia

Taiwan has joined the United States and other countries in imposing sanctions against Russia in order to compel Russia to halt its military aggression against Ukraine, and to restart peaceful dialogue among all parties concerned as soon as possible.

According to a statement from the Biden administration, the U.S. would impose sweeping financial sanctions on Russia’s largest financial institutions and export control measures that would cut off more than half of Russia’s high-tech imports, as well as restrictions on sales of semiconductors to Russia.

As a member of the global democratic alliance, Taiwan “staunchly defends the core universal values of freedom, democracy, the rule of law, and human rights,” and strongly condemns Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in violation of the U.N. Charter, Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said in a statement on February 25.

Taiwan would continue to coordinate closely with the U.S. and other like-minded countries to adopt appropriate measures, including economic sanctions against Russia, in order to free Ukraine from the horrors of war, as well as restore, at the earliest time, peace and stability to the region and the world, MOFA said.

Taiwan’s semiconductor companies would also comply with government export controls to Russia, Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs said on February 27. Taiwan’s semiconductor manufacturers, such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), “have also expressed that they will abide by the laws and closely cooperate with government measures,” the ministry said.

Taiwan also joined with Western-led allies to block some Russian banks from the SWIFT international payments system and has sent humanitarian aid to Ukraine to show support for the international “democratic camp,” Taiwan’s government said on March 1.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202202250004
[2] Reuters: https://www.reuters.com/technology/taiwan-says-chip-companies-complying-with-russia-export-controls-2022-02-27/
[3] Reuters: https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/taiwan-sends-27-tonnes-medical-supplies-ukraine-2022-03-01/

U.S. Should Abandon Strategic Ambiguity on Taiwan’s Defense: Japan’s Abe

On February 27, former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for the U.S. to make clear that it would defend Taiwan against a Chinese invasion and abandon its “strategic ambiguity” on Taiwan’s defense.

“The U.S. takes a strategy of ambiguity, meaning it may or may not intervene militarily if Taiwan is attacked,” Abe said on a Fuji TV morning talk show. “It is time to abandon this ambiguity strategy,” he said.

“The people of Taiwan share our universal values, so I think the U.S. should firmly abandon its ambiguity [on Taiwan’s defense],” Abe said. “We should make clear that we will not allow the status quo [in the Taiwan Strait] to be altered by force,” he added.

Abe also reiterated that Taiwan’s security is of particular concern to Japan, saying that “a Taiwan contingency is a Japan contingency.” He explained that Japan’s westernmost inhabited island of Yonaguni is just 110 km from Taiwan. If China seized Taiwan, it would first seek to establish air and sea superiority around Taiwan.

“If [China] were to secure wide air superiority, it would also cover Japan’s airspace. [China] would conduct operations in and above the waters too, so this would affect Japan’s territorial waters, or at least our exclusive economic zone.”

Abe’s comments come amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and an increasing worry wondering whether current deterrence measures are sufficient to prevent China from invading Taiwan.

As China continues to intensify its threat to Taiwan, prominent American foreign policy experts such as Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass have called for a shift to U.S. “strategic clarity” on Taiwan’s defense, as have several U.S. members of Congress.

[1] Nikkei Asia: https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/U.S.-should-abandon-ambiguity-on-Taiwan-defense-Japan-s-Abe
[2] Taiwan News: https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/4457017