TAIPEI (REUTERS) - Taiwan's foreign minister accused China on Saturday (Aug 21) 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 US-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 has 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, Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu expressed his thanks to the United States for upholding the wishes and best interests of Taiwan's people.
"They include democracy and freedom from communism, authoritarianism and crimes against humanity," Mr Wu said.
"China dreams of emulating the Taleban, but let me be blunt: We've got the will and means to defend ourselves," he added, without elaborating.
There was no immediate response from China, whose Taiwan Affairs Office did not answer calls seeking comment outside business hours on Saturday.
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 that Taiwan and China have sparred over.
Taiwan 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 autocratic 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.