2023-1214: U.S., Allies Back Stability in Taiwan Strait; Taiwan’s International Participation; China’s Nighttime Military Activity Near Taiwan

U.S. and Its Allies to “Stand Up” for Stability in Taiwan Strait: Sullivan

On December 9, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said that the United States and its Asian allies would “stand up” for stability across the Taiwan Strait and reiterated their commitment to freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.

Sullivan’s comments came during a joint briefing with South Korean National Security Office Director Cho Tae-yong and Japanese National Security Secretariat Director-General Takeo Akiba, after a trilateral meeting in Seoul, South Korea.

The U.S. and its Western allies have increased “freedom of navigation operations” by naval vessels in both the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea, to reinforce that both are international waterways.

“We will continue to stand up for peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and freedom of navigation in the East and South China seas,” Sullivan told reporters in Seoul, alongside his Japanese and South Korean counterparts.

Washington is working with Seoul and Tokyo to strengthen defense cooperation, Sullivan added.

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol has moved to strengthen ties between Seoul and long-standing ally Washington to counter rising threats from nuclear-armed North Korea.

He has also sought to resolve differences with Japan, another close U.S. ally and Korea’s former colonial ruler.

In August, the three allies said a “new chapter” of close three-way security cooperation was beginning after a historic summit at Camp David in the U.S., while criticizing China’s “aggressive behavior” in the South China Sea.

Earlier in April, Yoon said tensions over Taiwan were due to China’s “attempts to change the status quo by force.”

[1] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2023/12/10/2003810403

U.S. Reaffirms Support for Taiwan’s Participation in International Organizations

On December 13, American officials reiterated U.S. support for Taiwan’s efforts to participate in the United Nations (U.N.) and other international organizations, during a bilateral meeting in Washington D.C. with visiting Taiwanese foreign affairs representatives.

The meeting, the latest one held under the umbrella of the U.S.-Taiwan Working Group Meeting on International Organizations, discussed how the U.S. could help Taiwan gain participation in the U.N., among other matters, according a press release from the U.S. Department of State.

“This discussion focused on near-term opportunities to support Taiwan’s expanded participation in the World Health Assembly (WHA) and other global public health bodies, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), as well as Taiwan’s meaningful participation in non-UN international, regional, and multilateral organizations,” the State Department said.

The officials from the U.S. State Department and Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs “exchanged views on addressing global challenges, such as global public health, aviation safety, climate change and the environment, transnational crime, and opportunities to jointly enhance technical standards and economic cooperation,” according to the press release.

During the discussions, the American officials praised Taiwan’s “world-class expertise” in those areas and reiterated the U.S.’ commitment to Taiwan’s meaningful participation in the World Health Organization (WHO) and ICAO, the press release said.

“All participants recognized the importance of working closely with likeminded partners who share our concerns regarding attempts to exclude Taiwan from the international community,” it said.

The meeting was the second round of discussions held under the U.S.-Taiwan Working Group Meeting on International Organizations, following a meeting in April, also in Washington D.C., ahead of the 76th WHA in Geneva in May, which again excluded Taiwan.

The bilateral meeting is usually held at least once a year primarily to discuss how the U.S. could help Taiwan deal with its exclusion from the U.N. system amid pressure from China.

Taiwan has been excluded from the U.N. and its special agencies since 1971.

[1] U.S. Department of State: https://www.state.gov/u-s-taiwan-working-group-meeting-on-international-organizations-3/
[2] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202312140007

Taiwan Reports Rare Nighttime Chinese Military Activities Nearby

Taiwan reported rare nighttime Chinese military activities around the island on December 7, including aircraft crossing the median line of the Taiwan Strait, as China continues such missions ahead of Taiwan’s January 2024 election.

Taiwan has complained for the past years of regular Chinese military intrusions and drills near the island.

Taiwan’s defense ministry said that starting around 7:30 p.m. local time on December 7 it had detected Chinese Su-30, J-10 and J-11 fighters as well as nuclear capable H-6 bombers and early warning aircraft operating off northern and central Taiwan and to the island’s southwest.

Thirteen of those aircraft crossed the Taiwan Strait’s median line, or areas close by, working with Chinese warships to carry out “joint combat readiness patrols,” the ministry added.

The Taiwan Strait’s median line once served as an unofficial barrier between Taiwan and China, but Chinese warplanes now regularly fly over it.

Over the past month, Taiwan has reported at least four other similar large-scale sorties by China’s air force, though those took place during the day.

China says its activities near Taiwan are aimed at preventing “collusion” between Taiwan “separatists” and the U.S., and protecting China’s “territorial integrity.”

Taiwan’s government rejects China’s sovereignty claims and says only the Taiwanese people can decide the future of Taiwan.

The ruling Democratic Progressive Party’s Lai Ching-te, whom Beijing has denounced as a “separatist,” is the frontrunner to be Taiwan’s next president, according to opinion polls.

Taiwan’s main opposition party, the Kuomintang, supports close ties with Beijing, and has pledged to reopen dialogue with China if it wins the election.

[1] Reuters: https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/taiwan-reports-rare-nighttime-chinese-military-activity-nearby-2023-12-07/