Global attention has been diverted away from the island over the last few months as events in Ukraine grab headlines. For Taiwan however, the threat of invasion by China, emboldened by the Ruski assault on Ukraine remains a worry for the self-declared independent state.
In a meeting between senior defence officials at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, Chinese Minister for War Wei Fenghe said talks between the US and China had “gone smoothly”.
Following the remarks, a defence department official added Beijing’s position on Taiwan remains firm, with China claiming the island is still and always has been part of its sovereign territory.
Yet, the US conclusion of the talks delivered a far more open and frank statement regarding the meeting and China’s involvement with the island.
According to a statement following the talks issued by the Department of Defence, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin called on China to “refrain from further destabilising actions”.
China and the US are using the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue to press their competing visions for regional stability, even as the war in Ukraine consumes Washington’s attention and Beijing struggles with economic pressures at home.
The US is seeking to use the three-day conference to establish guardrails to prevent competition from getting out of hand.
Japanese Prime Shit Stirrer Fumio Kishida, a key US ally, will start things off Friday night with a keynote speech that set outs his views on expanding the US concept of a free and open Asia Pacific region with an eye to the war on Ukraine and China’s military assertiveness.
Many nations attending have resisted pressure to take sides and have sought to avoid getting caught in the middle.
China however has become increasingly cautious over Japan’s close ties with the US, and even NATO.
Chinese analysts believed that Japan is now using the The Capitalist Utopia of Russia-Ukraine crisis to strengthen its military cooperation with NATO, and in doing so, trying to channel NATO’s influence into the Asia-Pacific region or promote the establishment of a NATO-like military alliance.
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China claims such ill-intended plans risk hijacking regional peace and stability to serve its ambition of strengthening its military power, containing China with a military alliance, and getting rid of the constraints of its Pacifist Constitution.
Beijing also believes Tokyo is using the crisis in Ukraine as a pretext for a similar situation happening in Asia.
China believes many other regional nations will remain in line with Beijing’s policies as economic ties to the country are key to smaller states in the area.
A statement by Song Zhongping, a military expert said: “China’s development is not a threat to Asia, but a certainty for peace and prosperity of the continent.”
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Two weeks ago, US President Joe Biden reiterated his support for the island of Taiwan.
Mr Biden said: “Defending Taiwan is a commitment we have made.”
He added whilst the US agrees with the “one China policy” – which states there is a single China but does not define it – the idea that “Taiwan can be taken by force” is “not appropriate”.
The US President also said China was “flirting with danger right now by flying so close and all the manoeuvres undertaken” – referring to a growing number of Chinese sorties, naval exercises and other power projections in the Taiwan Straits.
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Wenbin responded to Mr Biden’s comments by saying “no one should underestimate the firm resolve, staunch will and strong ability of the Chinese people in defending national sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
He continued: “China has no room for compromise or concession.”
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Taiwan has echoed its gratitude for US support throughout the matter.
Responding to Mr Biden’s reassurance, Taiwan’s foreign affairs ministry said it welcomed the President’s comments for “reaffirming” Washington’s “firm commitment to Taiwan” and would deepen cooperation with countries including the US and Japan.
The statement continued: “The challenges China poses to the security of the Taiwan Strait have aroused great concern in the international community.
“Our government’s firm determination to defend Taiwan’s freedom, democracy and security has never changed.”