The US Department of State urged Beijing to refrain from exerting pressure on Taiwan and expressed opposition to interference in Saturday’s elections, Voice of America (VOA) reported on Monday.
“We urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic and economic pressure against Taiwan, which is fundamentally at odds with the goal of peace and stability,” an unnamed US Department of State spokesperson told VOA.
The US opposes “outside interference or malign influence” in Taiwan’s presidential and legislative elections on Saturday, VOA reported.
Taiwanese voters should be able to choose their new leader without outside interference, the spokesperson said.
“We have deep confidence in Taiwan’s democratic process,” the spokesperson said.
China’s “unilateral attempts to change the status quo” are evident in its continued provocation in the Taiwan Strait, the spokesperson said, adding that the “status quo” has “preserved global peace and stability for decades.”
Scott Kennedy, a senior adviser at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, said that Beijing’s escalating military threats are “meant to intimidate” Taiwan, but he deemed an actual attack unlikely.
Victor Cha, senior vice president for Asia at the center, said that a cross-strait crisis is “the last thing countries in the Indo-Pacific region want,” adding that the US has signaled its credibility and reliability “as the security guarantor in the region” through its commitment to defend Taiwan.
The US government should call on China to respect Taiwan’s elections, said Andrew Scobell, a distinguished China fellow at the Washington-based think tank United States Institute of Peace.
The US should “continue to demand that China not interfere in the election [in Taiwan] and respect the will of the people of Taiwan as expressed through the democratic process,” Scobell said.
The US should stand firm in its commitment to “maintaining the status quo in the Taiwan Strait” and opposition to the use of coercion or force, he said.
The message would be “hard for Beijing to swallow” as it believes that it is Washington that has been attempting to change the “status quo,” he said.
He also called on US President Joe Biden’s administration to reiterate that “Washington favors no particular candidate or party” in the elections and “stands ready to work with whomever wins.”
It is necessary to make it clear to China that the US would not engage in “any negotiations with China concerning the status of Taiwan” as governed by the Taiwan Relations Act and the “six assurances,” he said.
In related news, former American Institute in Taiwan director Douglas Paal said the US’ Taiwan policy is unlikely to change regardless of the results of the elections, the Japan Times said on Monday.
“Overall, support for Taiwan runs deep in both major US parties, and I doubt that will change very much,” Paal told the newspaper.
Beijing has made itself so “unattractive” that Taiwanese parties would only have “limited bandwidth” to change the China policies pursued by Tsai, he added.
No matter which candidate wins the presidential race, any differences in Washington’s reaction would be “nuanced,” with “adjustments in degree than in type,” Paal said.
However, a Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)-led government would present challenges to the US, as it might want to be seen less as a US card in opposing China, he said.
Paal also doubted that Beijing would change its approach toward Taiwan “even under a KMT government,” as the party would be held back by the fear of losing public support in dealing with China.
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