US 'has faith' Tsai will keep status quo

Senator John McCain said the US had faith that President Tsai would keep the status quo of relations with China, even as the island's Defence Minister said Taiwan would not recognise any ADIZ declared by Beijing.
Senator John McCain said the US had faith that President Tsai would keep the status quo of relations with China, even as the island's Defence Minister said Taiwan would not recognise any ADIZ declared by Beijing.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

TAIPEI • Taiwan's new Defence Minister said the island would not recognise any air defence zone declared by China over the South China Sea, as the island's top security agency warned such a move could usher in a wave of regional tension.

"We will not recognise any ADIZ by China," Taiwan Defence Minister Feng Shih-kuan told Parliament yesterday, referring to the Air Defence Identification Zone that China declared over the East China Sea in 2013, in which aircraft must identify themselves to the Chinese authorities.

China has neither confirmed nor denied it plans such a zone for the South China Sea. "In the future, we don't rule out China designating an ADIZ. If China is on track to announce this, it could usher in a new wave of tension in the region," Taiwan's National Security Bureau said in a report to Parliament.

Mr Feng told lawmakers Taiwan would send additional ammunition to Itu Aba, in the disputed Spratly Islands, for its anti-aircraft guns in the next month. The move is largely symbolic as the guns are not considered advanced weaponry.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen in the meantime called upon the United States to strengthen bilateral military exchange and keep the flow of weapons to Taiwan uninterrupted, as she received US Senator John McCain on Sunday, with the senator suggesting that Taiwan increase its defence spending to 3 per cent of the gross domestic product.

The visit marked the first by a Senate Armed Services Committee chairman to Taiwan in 24 years. The delegation also had the largest number of senators in the past 10 years, with six others besides Mr McCain.

Mr McCain said the US has faith that Ms Tsai will keep the status quo of cross-strait relations, and that Beijing has the obligation not to take actions that may jeopardise cross-strait stability.

But in a sign of still-distrustful ties, China yesterday rejected an offer by Ms Tsai over Facebook last Saturday to share the island's experience of democracy.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei, asked whether China would be willing to learn from Taiwan's democratisation, said the past 30 years had shown China had made the right choice. "The advantages of China's system continue to show themselves," he said.

REUTERS, THE CHINA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 07, 2016, with the headline 'US 'has faith' Tsai will keep status quo'. Print Edition | Subscribe