1008: Taiwan Determined to Defend Itself, Biden’s “Taiwan Agreement” Remarks, Rep. Chabot’s interview with CNA, Letter from Reps. to Biden

Taiwan Will Do Whatever It Takes to Defend Itself: Taiwan’s President Tsai

Taiwan’s fall to China would bring “catastrophic” consequences for peace and democracy in Asia, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen warned in an article for Foreign Affairs magazine published on October 5. President Tsai further stated that if its democracy is threatened “Taiwan will do whatever it takes to defend itself.” The article comes right after China sent 149 warplanes intruding into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone in four days from October 1 to 4.

In the article, President Tsai pointed out that the People’s Republic of China has never abandoned its territorial ambitions toward Taiwan, as exemplified by its years of double-digit investment in its military and expansionist behaviors across the Taiwan Strait and in the surrounding maritime area.

“Since 2020, People’s Liberation Army aircraft and vessels have increased their activity in the Taiwan Strait, with almost daily intrusions into Taiwan’s southern air defense identification zone,” Tsai said.

Despite this, Tsai stressed “Taiwan will not bend to [China’s] pressure, but nor will it turn adventurist, even when it accumulated support from the international community.” Taiwan does not seek military confrontation with China, and wants peaceful, stable, predictable and mutually beneficial coexistence with its neighbours, Tsai added.

“But if its democracy and way of life are threatened, Taiwan will do whatever it takes to defend itself,” Tsai said, adding that Taiwanese people have made it clear that democracy is non-negotiable. “A fundamental part of this embrace of democracy is a firm belief that the future of Taiwan is to be decided by the Taiwanese through democratic means,” she emphasized.

To ensure stability, Tsai said, Taiwan will continue to express its openness to dialogue with China, as well as being fully committed to working with other regional actors as Taiwan lies along the first island chain, which, if “broken by force,” would disrupt international trade and destabilize the entire western Pacific.

A failure to defend Taiwan “would overturn a security architecture that has allowed for peace and extraordinary economic development in the region for seven decades,” Tsai wrote. If Taiwan were to fall, “the consequences would be catastrophic for regional peace and the democratic alliance system.” “It would signal that in today’s global contest of values, authoritarianism has the upper hand over democracy,” she added.

Tsai also said that Taiwan should be regarded as part of the solution, particularly as democratic countries seek to find the right balance between the need to engage and trade with authoritarian countries and the need to defend the values and democratic ideals that define their societies.

Taiwan’s success in containing the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that it can respond effectively to a pandemic. “Taiwan is ready to be a global force for good, with a role on the international stage that is commensurate with its abilities,” Tsai said.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202110050017
[2] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2021/10/06/2003765604
[3] Reuters: https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/taiwan-president-warns-catastrophic-consequences-if-it-falls-china-2021-10-05/

Biden Says China Should Abide by “Taiwan Agreement”

On October 5, U.S. President Joe Biden responded to Chinese military sorties near Taiwan for the first time since taking office, saying that he has spoken to China’s leader Xi Jinping and they agreed that the two countries should abide by the “Taiwan agreement.”

“I’ve spoken with Xi about Taiwan. We agree . . . we will abide by the Taiwan agreement,” Biden said. “That’s where we are and we made it clear that I don’t think he should be doing anything other than abiding by the agreement,” he said, without specifying what agreement he was referring to.

Following Biden’s remarks about the “Taiwan agreement,” Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) immediately checked with U.S. officials in Taipei and Washington, who reassured that the U.S. has not changed its policy toward Taiwan, MOFA spokeswoman Joanne Ou said. As the U.S. Department of State’s statement on October 3 shows, the U.S.’ policy toward Taiwan is predicated on its “Taiwan Relations Act” and the “Six Assurances,” Ou added.

Taiwan’s Presidential Office also said in a statement on October 6 that Washington has confirmed to Taipei that the U.S. policy toward Taiwan remains unchanged. The U.S. will maintain its commitments to Taiwan in accordance with the “Taiwan Relations Act” and “Six Assurances,” Presidential Office spokesman Xavier Chang said.

Biden’s comments were made amid increasing tensions between Taiwan and China. Since the beginning of October, China has deployed record numbers of aircraft for military exercises near Taiwan, a move criticized by Taiwan as a provocation and an attempt at intimidation.

On October 6, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. is “very concerned by the People’s Republic of China’s provocative military activity near Taiwan” and “strongly urge[s] Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure and coercion directed at Taiwan.” Blinken said China’s military maneuvers were destabilizing, adding that they could lead to miscalculations and undermine regional peace and stability.

Asked during a press briefing on October 6 to provide more details about the conversation between Biden and Xi, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden had reiterated to the Chinese leader that the U.S. need to uphold its commitment to Taiwan under the “Taiwan Relations Act.”

On October 7, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) sent a letter to President Biden, asking him to clarify his “Taiwan agreement” remarks. “It is critical that the U.S. stands resolute in its support for Taiwan’s territorial integrity and democratic sovereignty,” Rubio concluded. Allowing authoritarian China to annex democratic Taiwan “would not only completely undermine the credibility of the U.S., and our alliance system in the region, it could potentially endanger international supply chains and trade that uphold the American economy,” he warned.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/cross-strait/202110060004
[2] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2021/10/07/2003765670
[3] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202110070007

U.S. Should Continue to Move Forward to Support Taiwan, and Never Be Intimidated by China: Rep. Steve Chabot

In an interview with Taiwan’s CNA on October 3, U.S. Representative, co-founder and current co-chair of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus, Steve Chabot (R-OH), reacted to China’s habitually complaining about expressions of U.S. support for Taiwan: “We’ve seen that many times because virtually everything that Taiwan does, the PRC takes offence at it, and pushes back and tries to block things. So we should never be intimidated by that, and we should continue to move forward.”

Over the past two decades, Chabot introduced or co-signed nearly 100 pieces of Taiwan-friendly legislation, including the “Taiwan Travel Act,” which was signed into law by President Trump in 2018.

The Taiwan Travel Act allows “officials at all levels of the United States Government, including Cabinet-level national security officials, general officers and other executive branch officials, to travel to Taiwan to meet their Taiwanese counterparts.”

The act paved the way for the visit of former U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to Taiwan in 2020, the highest-level visit by an American Cabinet official since the break in formal diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Taiwan in 1979.

Chabot said he is hoping that it could be used more often. “The Biden administration, I also think, has not used it enough. And we’re encouraging them to do that,” he pointed out.

Chabot said he would love to see Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu visit and address the Congress. He also added he would not be satisfied until Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen addresses a joint session of the House and the Senate in the Capitol Building. “I think that’s something that’s long overdue,” he said.

Chabot added that he is “cautiously optimistic” that the Biden administration will approve a name change of Taiwan’s de facto embassy in the U.S. from the existing “Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office” (TECRO) to “Taiwan Representative Office” (TRO).

Chabot said he thinks there is “a real possibility” for the name change: “I think that makes sense. I think we ought to do it. I’ve introduced legislation to do that. And I commend the Biden administration for working in that direction. I hope they follow through.”

Critics of the TECRO name change to TRO have argued that the move is mostly symbolic and has no substance in terms of promoting closer Taiwan-U.S. exchanges.

However, Chabot said when it comes to Taiwan and China, “some symbolism is substance in many ways here.”

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202110040010

U.S. Representatives Express Grave Concern to President Biden About China’s Incursions Into Taiwan’s ADIZ and Call For Establishing U.S.-Taiwan Diplomatic Relations

In a letter to President Biden dated October 5, U.S. Representatives Tom Tiffany (R-WI), Scott Perry (R-PA), Scott DesJarlais (R-TN), and Greg Steube (R-FL) called for the U.S. to take concrete actions to deter China’s aggression toward Taiwan, and to establish diplomatic relations with Taiwan. They wrote:

“In recent months, China’s dictatorship has repeatedly dispatched fighter jets into Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), deliberately destabilizing the situation in the Taiwan Strait. China has sent more than 600 military aircraft into areas near Taiwan in these sorties since January, including a whopping [56] warplanes on Monday alone. This is a reckless provocation on the part of Beijing – one that is clearly designed to trigger a defensive military response from Taipei as a pretense for a Chinese attack.”

“While we share the sentiments expressed by the U.S. Department of State over the weekend regarding these Chinese incursions, it will take more than strongly worded Tweets to deter China’s escalation of tensions in the region. Successful diplomacy must entail more than words – it requires employing the tools at your disposal to discourage China’s destructive behavior.”

“America’s decision to normalize diplomatic relations with Communist China in 1979 was contingent on assurances that Beijing would resolve its differences with Taiwan peacefully. Those assurances were codified by the Taiwan Relations Act, which makes clear that it is the policy of the United States to ‘consider any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means . . . a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific area and of grave concern to the United States.’”

“In recent months (and indeed over the last 30 years through both Democrat and Republican administrations), it has become clear to the entire world that China has no intention of living up to this commitment. Therefore, it is time for the United States to rethink its relationship with Communist China, to consider reversing the Carter-era decision to sever formal U.S. ties with Taiwan at Beijing’s insistence, and to encourage our allies in the region to do the same.”