0902: U.S. Public Favors Recognizing and Defending Taiwan, Supports for Lithuania’s Taiwan Ties, Taiwan-Japan Ruling Parties Talks

Survey: Most Americans Support Recognizing Taiwan as an Independent Country and Defending Taiwan if China Invades

 A recent survey released by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs shows that majorities of Americans favor a range of U.S. policies in support of Taiwan, including but not limited to, U.S. recognition of Taiwan as an independent country, sending U.S. troops to defend Taiwan if China invades, supporting Taiwan’s inclusion in international organizations, and signing a U.S.-Taiwan free trade agreement.

The poll showed that 69% of the U.S. public believes that the U.S. should recognize Taiwan as an independent country. “While a significant portion of Americans appear unfamiliar with Taiwan, a majority of Americans seem prepared to recognize independence for Taiwan should the U.S. government change its existing policy toward Taipei,” the survey concluded.

The survey found that 52% of Americans support using U.S. troops to defend Taiwan against a Chinese invasion, the highest level of support recorded since the council first asked the question in 1982. The survey also found that 53% of Americans support the United States’ signing a formal alliance with Taiwan, while 46% favor explicitly committing to defend Taiwan if China invades.

Moreover, the survey showed that 65% of the U.S. public agree that the U.S. should help Taiwan join international organizations, and 57% favor the U.S. signing a free-trade agreement with Taiwan. The poll also found that 30% of Americans see Taiwan as an ally and another 30% view it as a necessary partner, while 32% see China as a rival and 29% regard it as an adversary.

“Distrust of China is a significant factor in US public support for Taiwan,” the council said. It said that “US officials often refer to Taiwan as a valued partner in the region,” adding that “the public’s views are broadly similar.”

“I think there’s growing awareness in the United States about Taiwan and the challenges that it faces,” Bonnie Glaser, director of the Asia Program at the Washington D.C.-based German Marshall Fund, told VOA Mandarin. She added that China’s military and diplomatic pressure on Taiwan have been widely reported, making Americans more supportive of Taiwan and more sympathetic to Taiwan’s plight.

[1] Chicago Council Survey: https://www.thechicagocouncil.org/research/public-opinion-survey/first-time-half-americans-favor-defending-taiwan-if-china-invades
[2] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2021/08/28/2003763358
[3] Voice of America: https://www.voanews.com/east-asia-pacific/survey-most-americans-support-defending-taiwan-if-china-invades

International Lawmakers Back Lithuania’s Decisions on Boosting Taiwan Ties and Naming “TRO”

 European and U.S. lawmakers have sent letters and issued a statement supporting Lithuania’s decisions to deepen ties with Taiwan and allow the naming of “Taiwanese Representative Office” (TRO), despite strong political and economic retaliations imposed by China.

After Taiwan announced this July to open a “Taiwanese Representative Office” in Lithuania, China recalled its ambassador to Lithuania and demanded Vilnius do the same on August 10. Since then, China has accelerated its blatant economic coercion by threatening to stop all direct freight trains to Vilnius, and attempting to bar the export of key raw materials to Lithuania.

On August 25, the Formosa Club, a group of pro-Taiwan European lawmakers, sent a joint letter to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union (EU), urging solidarity and support for Lithuania’s efforts to boost ties with Taiwan. The letter said that China’s coercive actions against Lithuania are not only a flagrant violation of international diplomatic norms, but also a brazen attack on sovereignty of Lithuania, which has every right to advance ties with Taiwan and establish respective offices, as the EU and 15 member states have already done.

On August 27, the heads of parliamentary foreign affairs committees in the U.S. and eleven European countries issued a joint statement strongly condemning China’s efforts to “punish” Lithuania. In their statement, the lawmakers (including U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, British MP Tom Tugendhat, and their counterparts from France, Germany, and other countries) said “[China’s] interference in the internal affairs of a [EU] and NATO state (is) neither welcome nor appropriate,” while arguing Lithuania’s decisions to withdraw from China’s 17+1 initiative and to deepen Taiwan ties are “similar to the sovereign decisions taken by other states.”

In an open letter dated August 31, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio applauded Lithuania’s decision to allow Taiwan’s office in Vilnius to be called the “Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania.” “It is important to support the right of the Taiwanese, as a fellow democratic people, to determine how they would like others to refer to them and to choose the appropriate name for their foreign missions that reflects the work that they do,” Sen. Rubio said. He added that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) “does not represent Taiwan,” and thus has “no right to dictate to the rest of the world how we must refer to, or engage with, the people of Taiwan.”

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202108260015
[2] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202108280006
[3] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202109010003

Taiwan and Japan Ruling Parties Hold First Security Talks

 On August 27, the ruling parties of Taiwan (Democratic Progressive Party, or DPP) and Japan (Liberal Democratic Party, or LDP) held their first bilateral security talks, in a move seen as directed at the challenge posed by an increasingly assertive China.

The Taiwanese side was attended by Lo Chih-cheng and Tsai Shih-ying, both of whom are members of the Legislative Yuan and serve on the Foreign and National Defense Committee. The Japanese side was attended by Masahisa Sato, a member of the House of Councilors, and Taku Otsuka, a member of the House of Representatives. Sato and Otsuka are also the respective directors of the LDP’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense divisions.  

Both Taiwanese and Japanese sides hope to strengthen cooperation through exchanges between legislators as official contacts are still impeded by the lack of diplomatic relations, Japan’s LDP representative Masahisa Sato said. He added that such strengthening of cooperation is needed as China’s unilateral actions in the region have altered the status quo and impacted the security of Japan and the Taiwan Strait.

Taku Otsuka echoed Sato and said China’s rising military power has undermined stability in the region and affected the world order. He then said the LDP’s National Defense division has proposed to the Japanese government that it should make bold changes in policies and increase related budgets to help maintain regional stability.

The Japanese representatives also pledged to back Taiwan’s bid to join the “Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership” (CPTPP), as its participation in the organization is an important goal for Taiwan and regional partners, and would improve Taiwan-Japan relations.

Taiwan’s DPP representative Lo Chih-cheng said that both parties have to act together on issues relating to security, environmental protection and economic growth to maintain their free and democratic way of life. He added that today’s dialogue is supported not only by both ruling parties but also both peoples and is certain to produce fruitful results.

Tsai Shih-ying said that the party representatives also agreed to promote coast guard collaborations, and he hoped that this security dialogue can become a regular event and serve as a new channel of communication between both countries.

“The Taiwanese side said they had been waiting and hoping for such a dialogue . . . . [We both] felt it was significant to come up with common goals between the ruling parties that can lead to government policy for both countries,” Sato said, adding that the dialogue would help inform the Japanese ruling party’s policymaking.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202108270012
[2] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2021/08/28/2003763354