A top Japanese defense official on Friday urged US president-elect Joe Biden to “be strong” in supporting Taiwan in the face of an aggressive China, calling the nation’s safety a “red line.”
“We are concerned China will expand its aggressive stance into areas other than Hong Kong. I think one of the next targets, or what everyone is worried about, is Taiwan,” Japanese State Minister of Defense Yasuhide Nakayama said in an interview.
Nakayama urged Biden to take a similar line on Taiwan as US President Donald Trump, who has significantly boosted military sales to the nation and increased engagement with it.
Japan’s engagement with Taiwan has also flourished in the past few years on a largely non-governmental basis.
Tokyo maintains a “one China” policy, delicately balancing its relationships with neighboring giant China and its longtime military ally in Washington.
Japan shares strategic interests with Taiwan, which sits in sea lanes through which much of Japan’s energy supplies and trade flow.
“So far, I haven’t yet seen a clear policy or an announcement on Taiwan from Joe Biden. I would like to hear it quickly, then we can also prepare our response on Taiwan in accordance,” Nakayama said.
During the presidential campaign, Biden called for strengthening ties with Taiwan and other “like-minded democracies.”
Decades ago as a US senator, Biden questioned whether the US had an “obligation” to defend Taiwan, but many in his foreign policy circles acknowledge that US imperatives have changed as a rising, authoritarian China has become more assertive and sought to shape global institutions.
An official in Biden’s transition team said that the president-elect believes US support for Taiwan “must remain strong, principled and bipartisan.”
“Once in office, he will continue to support a peaceful resolution of cross-strait issues consistent with the wishes and best interests of the people of Taiwan,” the official said.
Beijing has been angered by increased US support for Taiwan, including arms sales and visits to Taipei by senior US officials, further straining already poor US-China ties.
“Taiwan is China’s internal affair,” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) said on Friday. “We firmly oppose interference in China’s internal affairs by any country or anyone by any means.”
In Taipei, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said that there was strong bipartisan US support for Taiwan based on the “shared language” of freedom and democracy.
“Taiwan looks forward to working closely with the Biden team, to continue to steadily improve Taiwan-US relations on the basis of the existing solid friendship,” she said.
US officials in Tokyo could not be reached as the embassy was closed for Christmas.
“There’s a red line in Asia: China and Taiwan,” Nakayama said, citing a red line that former US president Barack Obama declared over Syria’s use of chemical weapons — a line Damascus then crossed.
Biden was Obama’s vice president.
“How will Joe Biden in the White House react in any case if China crosses this red line?” said Nakayama, who attended a memorial for former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) in August, before taking his defense position.
“The US is the leader of the democratic countries. I have a strong feeling to say: America, be strong,” Nakayama said.
BUSY DAY: The same day the USS ‘Barry’ passed through the Strait, Taiwan was ending its Han Kuang military exercises, while China said it conducted an exercise near Taiwan A US Navy ship on Friday sailed through the Taiwan Strait, marking the ninth time a US military vessel has transited the Strait since US President Joe Biden took office in January. The USS Barry, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, conducted a “routine” transit through the Strait, the US Navy said in a statement, adding that the journey through international waters was conducted “in accordance with international law.” “The ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the US Navy said. “The United States military flies, sails and operates anywhere international law allows.” The Ministry
FRUIT SPAT: The COA said China had not given evidence for halting wax and custard apple imports, adding that it would spend NT$1bn on promoting sales of the fruit Taipei threatened to take China to the WTO yesterday after Beijing said it would suspend wax apple and custard apple imports from Taiwan due to pest concerns. China’s customs administration earlier yesterday said it had repeatedly found pests called Planococcus minor, a type of mealybug, on wax and custard apples from Taiwan. It asked its Guangdong branch and all affiliated offices to stop clearing the products from today. China had acted unilaterally, without providing scientific evidence, Council of Agriculture (COA) Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) told a news conference, criticizing the announcement’s timing, as it came during the Mid-Autumn Festival, celebrated in Taiwan
ON ALERT: A woman who tested positive for COVID-19 while abroad last year tested negative twice in Taiwan before showing a positive result on Sunday, the center said The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported two locally transmitted COVID-19 infections, four imported cases and no deaths. The CECC meanwhile warned nearly 500 people to monitor their health after a woman tested postive. The center also reported that a previous local case — a female worker at Taoyuan International Airport Services (桃園航勤), who had the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 — likely contracted the disease from the same source as a previous imported case from Turkey. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that the two local cases were reported in Taipei, and are a
CLOSED DOORS? The new US rules, which are to be implemented in November, have sparked concern in Taiwan, given its low fully vaccinated coverage rate The US plans to allow entry to most foreign air travelers as long as they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 — while adding a testing requirement for unvaccinated Americans and barring entry for foreigners who have not received shots. The measures announced on Monday by the White House mark the most sweeping change to US travel policies in months, and widen the gap in rules between vaccinated people — who would see restrictions relaxed — and unvaccinated people. The new rules would replace existing bans on foreigners’ travel to the US from certain regions, including Europe. While the move would open the