2024-0614: Taiwan Is Already Independent, Lai Says; Biden Reaffirms Possibility of Defending Taiwan Militarily; U.S. Arms Sales to Taiwan

Taiwan Is Already a Sovereign, Independent Country: Taiwan President Lai

Taiwan’s President Lai Ching-te (or William Lai) said Taiwan is “already a sovereign and independent country” and he is not the first to express that Taiwan and China are not subordinate to each other, in his first media interview since taking office on May 20, featuring on the cover of the latest edition of Time Magazine published on June 13.
Responding to a question about Beijing’s ire at his inauguration speech in which he stated that the Republic of China (ROC, Taiwan’s official title) and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) are not subordinate to one another, Lai said his comments were a truth that others had expressed previously.
“My intention was not to provoke. During her 2021 National Day Address former President Tsai [Ing-wen] said as part of her Four Commitments that the ROC and PRC are not subordinate to each other. Former President Ma Ying-jeou had also once said the ROC is a sovereign and independent state and that neither side of the strait is subordinate to the other,” Lai said.
“I stated this in accordance with Articles 2 and 3 of the ROC Constitution, given that on Taiwan we have our own people, land, sovereignty, and government. According to international law, we are already a sovereign and independent country,” Lai stressed, “My goal is to bring the people of Taiwan together.”
Asked to comment on China’s aggressive courting of the Global South to get diplomatic support for its so-called “reunification” of Taiwan, Lai called on all countries to “respect the choice of Taiwan’s people.”
“The will of the [Taiwanese] people should not be subject to decisions made by a majority or show of hands [in international fora]. Neither should our people be threatened by violence or the threat of war,” he said, before expressing his hope that the international community would “continue to assist, understand, and support Taiwan.”
Lai said he would continue to uphold former president Tsai Ing-wen’s “Four Commitments.” The term refers to Taiwan’s commitments to a democratic constitutional system, not being subordinate to China, protecting Taiwan’s national sovereignty, and the right of the Taiwanese people to determine Taiwan’s future.
Lai urged Chinese President Xi Jinping to understand that initiating a Taiwan Strait conflict and disrupting peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region “will not be accepted by the international community.”
He said his administration’s policy is to entrench Taiwan’s democracy, maintain regional peace, and bolster the nation’s global outreach.
“Taiwan will continue to move in the direction of democracy, peace, and prosperity, linking us with the international community,” Lai said, adding that the nation’s engagement with the international community advances global prosperity and development.
Lai is the third national leader on the cover of Time Magazine this year, following United States President Joe Biden and Thailand’s Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin.

[1] Focus Taiwan
[2] Taipei Times

Biden Reaffirms Possibility of Using U.S. Military to Defend Taiwan

U.S. President Joe Biden said he is “not ruling out using U.S. military force” to defend Taiwan in response to a potential Chinese invasion.
In an interview with Time magazine published on June 4, Biden said whether the United States would use military force to help protect Taiwan will depend on whether “China unilaterally tries to change the status [quo]” across the Taiwan Strait.
Biden said he has made clear to Chinese President Xi Jinping that the U.S. is not seeking independence for Taiwan as Washington had agreed with Beijing.
However, if China tries to change the status quo unilaterally, “we’re continuing to supply capacity [to Taiwan],” Biden said. “We’ve been in consultation with our allies in the region.”
In the case of a Chinese invasion, Biden said he is “not ruling out using U.S. military force” to defend Taiwan, adding that there’s “a distinction between deploying on the ground, air power and naval power, etc.”
Time cited CIA director Bill Burns as saying Xi has ordered the Chinese military to be ready to conduct a successful invasion of Taiwan by 2027.
Prior to the interview Biden had said on at least four separate occasions that the U.S. would defend Taiwan in the event of attacks by China, since taking office in 2021.
On August 19, 2021, Biden told ABC News that the U.S. had “made a sacred commitment” to defend its NATO allies, and the same held for Taiwan.
At a CNN town hall event on October 21, 2021, when asked whether the U.S. “would come to Taiwan’s defense if China attacked,” Biden replied: “Yes, we have a commitment to do that.”
On May 23, 2022, speaking at a news conference in Tokyo during his visit to Japan, Biden said “yes” when asked whether he was willing to get the U.S. involved “militarily” to defend Taiwan if China invaded. “That’s the commitment we made,” he added.
In a pre-recorded interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes” program that aired on September 18, 2022, Biden said the U.S. would defend Taiwan militarily “if in fact, there was an unprecedented attack.”

[1] Taipei Times
[2] Japan Times
[3] FAPA

U.S. Approves US$300 Million Sales of F-16 Parts to Taiwan

The U.S. Department of State has approved two potential sales to Taiwan of F-16 parts and related equipment worth a total of US$300 million, the Pentagon announced on June 5.
The deals would represent the 14th U.S. arms sale to Taiwan since President Joe Biden took office in 2021.
In two press releases, the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said the packages would include standard (US$220 million) and non-standard (US$80 million) spare and repair parts, components, consumables, and accessories for F-16 aircraft, as well as other technical and logistics support services.
The proposed sales would “improve [Taiwan’s] ability to meet current and future threats by maintaining the operational readiness of [Taiwan’s] fleet of F-16 aircraft,” the DSCA said.
They would also help improve the security of Taiwan and assist in maintaining political stability, military balance, and economic progress in the region, the DSCA said.
The DSCA said it had notified the U.S. Congress of the potential sales. The approval does not indicate that a contract for the equipment has been signed.
In response, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) said on June 6 that the sales would help maintain Taiwan’s combat capabilities, as China continues to suppress Taiwan’s air and maritime training space and response time through “gray-zone” tactics, restricting Taiwan’s right to self-defense.
The MND urged China to cease “all irrational actions” against Taiwan, stressing that stability in the Taiwan Strait requires the joint efforts of both sides.

[1] Focus Taiwan
[2] Taipei Times