Editorial Notes

The relationship between US and Taiwan: Statesman

The paper says America's dealings with Taiwan have been reinforced in the midst of a war in another part of the world.

Former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo with Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen during his visit to the Presidential Office in Taipei on March 3, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

NEW DELHI (THE STATESMAN/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - As the United States of America is riveted to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, there are indications of stepped-up communication between Washington and Taipei.

It thus comes about that a delegation of former US defence officials is currently visiting Taiwan in the midst of looming threats from China. The five-member delegation is being led by the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mike Mullen.

It is a measure of the importance of America's dealings with Taiwan that the delegation will meet President Tsai Ing-wen and other top officials during the two-day visit. The Taiwanese foreign affairs minister, Joseph Wu, who greeted the team at Taipei's Songshan airport, is reported to have bumped elbows with the members of the US delegation.

The visit to Taiwan has been arranged by President Biden and is envisaged to permit an incisive exchange of views on Taiwan-US cooperation in various spheres. It is generally expected in Taiwan that both sides will reinforce Taiwan-US relations, "continue to jointly maintain regional peace and stability, and continue to jointly contribute to global peace and prosperity".

The former US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, will join the delegation later this week. According to Taiwan's foreign ministry, "Mr Pompeo's visit displays fully US bipartisan backing for its rock-solid support for Taiwan".

Indeed the Russian aggression of Ukraine has focused attention on China's threat to use force to annex self-governing democratic Taiwan, which it claims as its own territory. Circumstances are rather different, however. Taiwan is situated 160 km across the Taiwan Strait from mainland China. It enjoys strong support from the United States, which is legally bound to ensure the island can defend itself and treat all threats to it as matters of grave concern.

China is yet to condemn Russia's war against Ukraine and its criticism of sanctions levelled against the Kremlin is viewed as a sign of commitment to the two countries' mutual defence against Washington and the West, despite Beijing's long-standing support for the principle of national sovereignty.

In Beijing, at another remove, China's foreign ministry spokesman, Wang Wenbin, has dismissed the US delegation's visit, saying it was "futile for the US to send anyone to demonstrate its so-called support for Taiwan". China has urged the United States to "stop all forms of official exchange with Taiwan, and handle Taiwan-related issues with caution so as to avoid further serious damage to the overall situation of China-US relations".

Of course, America's dealings with Taiwan have been reinforced in the midst of a war in another part of the world, verily a clash of shields that President Xi Jinping's China appears to have tacitly condoned. Prudence would suggest that Beijing ought not to interfere in Taiwan's renewed dealings with the United States of America.

  • The Statesman is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 23 news media entities.

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