Taiwan is presently not seeking formal ties with the US, despite a significant improvement in relations between the two sides, Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said in an interview broadcast on Tuesday.
“We are not seeking full diplomatic relations with the United States at this moment, but certainly, there’s a lot of room for us to explore how to strengthen relations between Taiwan and the United States,” Wu told Washington-based National Public Radio via Skype on Sunday.
“And we have been advocating that Taiwan and the United States should further strengthen their economic relations, trade relations, political relations, even security relations,” Wu said.
There has already been “tremendous advancement” in Taiwan-US relations, he said, apparently referring to US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar’s visit to Taiwan last month, as well as a visit by US Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach last week.
They were the highest-ranking US officials to travel to Taiwan since Washington switched diplomatic allegiance from Taipei to Beijing in 1979.
Wu said that Krach’s visit was “monumental.”
The visits angered Beijing, which reacted by sending dozens of military jets toward Taiwan during the visits, some of which crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait.
Wu said that the Chinese military activities near Taiwan were a concern.
“Crossing the median line of the Taiwan Strait is particularly alarming,” he said.
Hopefully, the US would continue to sell “defensive articles” to Taiwan amid the increasing military threat from China, although the nation is not relying on the US to intervene were armed conflict to begin, he said.
Taiwan does not feel that it is being used as a pawn by the administration of US President Donald Trump amid Washington’s strained ties with Beijing, he said.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus whip Lin Wei-chou (林為洲) yesterday said that the most concrete support Washington can give Taiwan is to resume formal ties and sign a mutual defense treaty.
Those items were in place when Taiwan-US relations were at their best, Lin said.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Wang Ting-yu (王定宇), one of the Foreign and National Defense Committee’s two conveners, said that as relations between two nations involve many aspects, they should not be a “zero-sum game.”
While establishing formal ties would not be a bad thing, it is not the only goal Taiwan should pursue, Wang said.
The priority of Taiwan-US relations should be to deepen cooperation in areas such as technology, national defense and regional politics, he said, urging the KMT to be on the same page, as it would maximize the national interest.
DPP Legislator Tsai Shih-ying (蔡適應) said that while everybody in Taiwan looks forward to cozier Taiwan-US relations, things should proceed step by step.
Restoring formal ties is a good ultimate goal, but it cannot be rushed, he said.
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