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Government thanks US for Mike Pence’s praise

BEACON:The US vice president said ‘Taiwan’s embrace of democracy shows a better path,’ before turning his focus to China’s suppression of free speech and religion

Staff writer, with CNA

Presidential Office spokesman Xavier Chang smiles at a news conference in Taipei on Jan. 21.

Photo: CNA

The government yesterday expressed gratitude to the US after US Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday praised Taiwan as a beacon of Chinese culture and democracy.

Taiwan would continue to work with like-minded nations to protect democracy and the international order, Presidential Office spokesman Xavier Chang (張惇涵) said.

The US continues to voice support for Taiwan on public occasions and demonstrates that it has attached great importance to security across the Taiwan Strait and in the region through concrete action, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement, adding that whatever measures Beijing takes to subdue Taiwan on the global stage, Taipei would never cave.

Pence reaffirmed the US’ support for Taiwan in a speech at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington.

The US has “stood by Taiwan in defense of her hard-won freedoms,” Pence said. “We’ve authorized additional military sales and recognized Taiwan’s place as one of the world’s great trading economies, and beacons of Chinese culture and democracy.”

Meanwhile, in China, millions of ethnic and religious minorities are struggling against the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to eradicate their religious and cultural identities, he said.

Furthermore, China has been turning up the pressure on the democracy in Taiwan over the past year, using checkbook diplomacy to induce two more nations to switch diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing, Pence said, referring to the Pacific nations of the Solomon Islands and Kiribati.

“The international community must never forget that its engagement with Taiwan does not threaten the peace, it protects the peace on Taiwan and throughout the region,” Pence said.

“America will always believe that Taiwan’s embrace of democracy shows a better path for all the Chinese people,” he added.

However, Pence reaffirmed the US’ “one China” policy, saying that it was built on the basis of the Three Joint Communiques with China and the Taiwan Relations Act.

It was Pence’s second public criticism of China in a year, following his remarks in October last year at the Hudson Institute on US policy toward China.

In his speech on Thursday, Pence again blasted Beijing as suppressing freedom of speech and religion, engaging in unfair trade practices and stealing US intellectual property.

China has also broken its 2015 pledge not to “militarize” the South China Sea, he said, adding that Beijing has deployed advanced anti-ship and anti-air missiles at military bases constructed on artificial islands in the area.

“But nothing in the past year has put on display the Chinese Communist Party’s antipathy to liberty so much as the unrest in Hong Kong,” Pence said, referring to months-long protests in the territory.

Nonetheless, the US is not seeking confrontation with China, but rather wants to see a level playing field, open markets, fair trade and respect for US values, he said.

“We are not seeking to contain China’s development,” Pence said.

“We want a constructive relationship with China’s leaders, like we have enjoyed for generations with China’s people. And if China will step forward and seize this unique moment in history to start anew by ending the trade practices that have taken advantage of the American people for far too long, I know [US] President Donald Trump is ready and willing to begin that new future,” he said.

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