Taiwan has welcomed support from its key allies after a US-Australian ministerial forum pledged closer ties with the island and the European Parliament called for a bilateral trade deal.
A spokesperson for the Foreign Office also cautiously noted the British Prime Minister’s refusal to rule out any involvement in a war with China over the island, but said Taiwan was not asking anyone to fight. in his name.
The statements come as the international community grows worried about China’s aggression in the Indo-Pacific region and a day after the United States, United Kingdom and Australia announced the pact. Aukus, an important new security partnership, widely seen as a measure designed to counter Beijing.
During the annual United States-Australia (Ausmin) ministerial consultation on Friday, senior ministers declared their mutual intention to “strengthen ties with Taiwan”, which they described as “a leading democracy. and an essential partner for both countries ”.
“The United States and Australia reiterated their continued support for a peaceful resolution of cross-strait issues without resorting to threats or coercion,” the joint statement said.
In response, the Taiwanese Foreign Ministry “sincerely thanked” the United States and Australia for their “firm and open” support.
“Building on the strong existing foundations, our government will continue to work closely with the United States, Australia and other like-minded countries to expand Taiwan’s international space, safeguard democracy and shared values, as well as a rules-based international order, and jointly safeguard peace, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region, ”ministry spokesperson Joanne Ou said.
Taiwan is seen as threatened with attack or invasion by China, which claims it as a province, although the potential nature and timing are debated. Unification is a key objective of Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who has not ruled out taking Taiwan by force. Beijing views Taiwan’s democratically elected government as separatist, but Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen has said Taiwan is already a sovereign country that does not need to declare independence.
Ausmin’s statement from government officials was also very critical of China regarding its actions in the South China Sea and human rights violations. In response, the Chinese Embassy in Canberra said it would “strongly oppose and reject the baseless accusations and flawed remarks.”
“This small gesture to put pressure on China will be of no use but a staged farce. “
China on Thursday accused the newly formed Aukus of having “an obsolete zero-sum Cold War mentality and narrow geopolitical concepts.” Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the decision to give Australia – a signatory to the non-proliferation treaty – nuclear technology was an “extremely irresponsible” case of double standards.
As China’s aggression in the region escalated and Taipei sought alliances, Western countries pushed for greater inclusion of Taiwan in the global diplomatic arena and showed growing support for its defense. against China.
None of the Aukus nations recognizes Taiwan as a country. Instead, they only have formal ties with the government of the People’s Republic of China, which claims Taiwan as a Chinese province under its “one-China principle.”
Various other nations have their own “One China” policies, which define the level of recognition their governments give to Beijing’s policies. The United States and Australia, for example, recognize but do not recognize Beijing’s claim on Taiwan.
Following Aukus’ announcement on Thursday, former British Prime Minister Theresa May asked Johnson: “What are the implications of this pact for the position that would be taken by the United Kingdom in its response if China attempted to to invade Taiwan?
In response, Johnson was careful not to rule anything out. “The UK remains committed to standing up for international law and this is the strong advice we would give to our friends around the world, and the strong advice we would give to the Beijing government,” he said.
The Taiwanese Foreign Ministry did not want to say whether or how it considered the UK involved in the event of a conflict. Foreign Minister Joseph Wu previously told the Guardian that he has seen countries such as Australia and Japan likely offer logistical or intelligence support, rather than military.
On Friday, Ou said Taiwan welcomes the formation of Aukus “but that does not imply that we are asking the UK to get involved in the conflict across the Taiwan Strait.”
“We are responsible for Taiwan’s national security, we are not asking the UK or any other country to fight on our behalf,” Ou said.
“Of course, we would very much appreciate the support of the international community and of like-minded countries, but it is not an imperative. “
Also Thursday, the European Parliament adopted a resolution containing recommendations for the European Union to negotiate “urgently” a trade agreement with Taiwan. Earlier this year, a years-negotiated trade deal between the EU and China was essentially frozen after tit-for-tat sanctions resulting from EU concerns over China’s human rights violations, including in Xinjiang.
This week, China applied to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement on Trans-Pacific Partnership, a key Asia-Pacific trade pact signed by 11 countries in 2018.
The European resolution also called for concrete actions to facilitate Taiwan’s inclusion in the United Nations as an observer, and expressed “grave concern over China’s authoritarian and expansionist policies in the South China Sea, the East China Sea and the Taiwan Strait, in particular China’s continued military provocation aimed at Taiwan.
“While China is an important trading partner, it is also a systemic rival which poses a challenge to our way of life and to the liberal world order,” said Hilde Vautmans, member of the Parliament’s foreign affairs committee. European, in the press release.
Margaret Lewis of Seton Hall Law School in New Jersey said the EU resolution was important given the recent feud between China and Lithuania over the latter’s support for Taiwan, and to highlight the importance of Taiwan in the world market.
“I’m encouraged to see the EU’s vocal support in part because, as Beijing tries to intimidate Lithuania, it’s important to show that it won’t work,” she said.
“The EU did not need to make that statement – it was a decision to make a statement that they knew would not be viewed favorably by Beijing. “