TAIPEI • Taiwan's foreign minister accused China yesterday of wanting to "emulate" the Taleban, saying the island that Beijing claims as sovereign Chinese territory did not wish to be subject to communism or crimes against humanity.
The rapid fall of the United States-backed Afghan government has sparked heated debate in Taiwan about whether it could suffer the same fate in a Chinese invasion, while state media in China said Kabul's fate showed Taiwan it cannot trust Washington.
Writing on Twitter in response to the US State Department reiterating a call for China to stop pressuring the island, Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu expressed his thanks to the US for upholding the wishes and best interests of Taiwan's people. "They include democracy & freedom from communism, authoritarianism and crimes against humanity," he said.
"China dreams of emulating the Taleban, but let me be blunt: We've got the will & means to defend ourselves," he added.
China has sought to build ties with the Taleban despite its own worries about the possible effect on what Beijing sees as Islamist extremists operating in China's Xinjiang. Afghanistan has become the latest issue Taiwan and China have sparred over.
Taipei has complained of stepped-up Chinese diplomatic and military pressure in recent months, including repeated air force and navy drills near the island, prompting concern in Washington and other Western capitals.
Taiwan is a rambunctious democracy whose people have shown little interest in being ruled by China. Beijing has also been angered by US support for Taiwan even in the absence of formal diplomatic ties between Washington and Taipei, including regular US arms sales.