Taiwan’s president says she has ‘faith’ that US will defend the island against Chinese attack

Tensions have been simmering between Taiwan, China and the US in the recent months

Sravasti Dasgupta
Thursday 28 October 2021 09:59
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File: Taiwan’s President says she believed that the US would come to its defense against China

Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen has said that she believed if the island nation came under attack from China, America and other regional democracies would come to its defence.

The comments came just days after US president Joe Biden’s assertion that America has a strong commitment to defend Taiwan against China.

In an interview with CNN, Ms Tsai said that she believed Taiwan will be defended, “given the long-term relationship we have with the US.”

Ms Tsai added that the island would try and defend itself “as long as we can...But let me reiterate, it’s important that we have the support of our friends, and also like-minded countries.“

Tensions have been simmering between Taiwan, China and the US in recent months.

Mr Biden stated on Wednesday that he was “deeply concerned by China’s coercive and proactive actions... across the Taiwan Strait,” reported AFP.

Mr Biden made the statement at the virtual East Asia summit which Chinese Premier Xi Jingping was also attending.

The two nations also disagreed on Taiwan’s role in the United Nations. While the US has advocated for the country’s inclusion earlier this week, Beijing said on Wednesday that it has no right to join.

Taiwan and China split after a civil war in 1949. The US cut off formal diplomatic relations with Taipei in 1979 in order to recognise Beijing.

However, it has continued to pledge support in helping the country defend itself by supplying arms.

When asked at a CNN Townhall last week if the US would defend Taiwan, Mr Biden said: “Yes, we have a commitment to do that.”

The White House later said that the president’s comments do not signal a change in US policy towards Taiwan.

Ms Tsai also confirmed US troops presence in the island country, becoming the first Taiwanese leader in decades to do so since the last American troops left in 1979.

While she refused to confirm the exact number of troops deployed in the island nation, she said that it is not as many as people thought.

“We have a wide range of cooperation with the US aiming at increasing our defence capability,” she added.

The US has no official diplomatic ties with Taiwan. Its relationship is dictated by The Taiwan Relations Act, which vaguely states that it must provide the means to the island country to defend itself.

Despite this, the US has been vague in the past about how it would help Taiwan in case of an attack under its “strategic ambiguity” policy.

On Tuesday, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken reiterated in a statement that the US still recognises only Beijing but emphasised on including Taiwan in the UN.

Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office in Beijing, hit back on Wednesday saying that the UN is an international governmental organisation of sovereign states while Taiwan is a part of China, reported AFP.

The back and forth comes in the backdrop of escalating tensions between China and Taiwan. China has sent a record number of war planes into international airspace close to the island.

Ms Tsai said that Taiwan needs the support of the global community.

“When authoritarian regimes demonstrate expansionist tendencies, democratic countries should come together to stand against them. Taiwan is on the front lines.”

She added, however, that Taiwan is still open to dialogue with China. “We have said again and again that we want to have dialogue with China and this is the best way to avoid misunderstanding, miscalculation and misjudgment in the management of the cross-strait relations,” she said.

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