Without Taiwan, the US could lose the Indo-Pacific region, former US ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft told an online forum yesterday, advocating Taiwan’s participation in the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) that comprises the US, Japan, India and Australia.
Craft made the remarks at the Ketagalan Forum — 2021 Asia-Pacific Security Dialogue. The event, held online, was cohosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Prospect Foundation.
Craft had planned to visit Taiwan from Jan. 13 to 15, shortly before she left office after former US president Donald Trump’s election defeat, but the US Department of State abruptly canceled the plan, as well as all other official visits, citing a need to focus on the transition to the administration of incoming US President Joe Biden.
Photo copied by Lu Yi-hsuan, Taipei Times
In her keynote speech, Craft said that what happens in Afghanistan has implications for people everywhere and “we should be worried.”
She condemned China’s Global Times for trying to cast doubt over the US’ commitment to Taiwan.
“Shame on them for using the lives of brave men and women as propaganda. I am here to assure you that they are wrong,” Craft said, after quoting a paragraph from the newspaper’s English-language editorial “Afghan abandonment a lesson for Taiwan’s DPP” published on Aug. 16.
“I was proud to support our commitment to Taipei during the Trump administration and as an American, I am proud to see Biden continuing that policy,” she said. “If Taiwan is lost, we lose, too.”
Taiwan should be included in the Quad as a “plus one” member, Craft said, adding that Taiwan should also participate in Japanese naval exercises.
She advised Taiwan to reinforce its relationships with Quad members, be it bilateral or trilateral, as well as its role in the 5G Clean Network led by the US.
While her title has changed, she has not given up on her fight for Taiwan’s inclusion in the UN and other international organizations, Craft said, calling on the WHO and the International Civil Aviation Organization to include Taiwan.
Speaking in a panel discussion, Project 2049 Institute chairman Randall Schriver — a former US assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific security affairs under Trump — also stressed Washington’s commitment to Taiwan.
“Our competition with China is about freedom and order in the Indo-Pacific [region],” Schriver said.
The Pentagon is becoming more serious about strengthening its deterrence capabilities in the region, he said.
About 52 percent of Americans responding to a poll supported US troops defending Taiwan if it were to be invaded by China, which is an all-time high, Schriver said, citing a survey by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs released last week.
If Taiwan is lost, it would be incredibly difficult to defend the first island chain, the Miyako Strait and freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, he said.
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in her speech underscored Taiwan’s contributions to the world.
With the revival of the Quad and the EU’s proposed “Europe Asia Connectivity Strategy,” Taiwan is well positioned to serve as an indispensable partner on democratic renewal, and in sectors such as biotechnology, renewable energy and the semiconductor industry, Tsai said.
“We are willing to shoulder our share of the burden and we will not take our security partner’s cavalry for granted,” Tsai said.
Taiwan is also fully committed to collaborating with its neighbors to prevent armed conflict in the Taiwan Strait, and the East and South China seas, she said.
“We will always defend our democracy and way of life,” Tsai said.
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