The international community must join together in resisting China’s expansionism and preventing an invasion of Taiwan by sharing intelligence, rethinking Chinese business ties and boosting Taipei’s presence on the world stage, Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said in an interview with the Guardian.
Wu said China’s activities in the South China and East China seas, its border skirmishes with India, and its crackdown on Hong Kong were evidence of it seeking to “expand its authoritarian order,” and that Taiwan was its next target.
Wu warned partners including the US, Europe, Japan and Australia, that if Taiwan were to “fall prey to China” it would greatly expand Beijing’s reach into the Pacific region and significantly affect the world order.
Wu has been at the forefront of Taiwan’s lobbying campaign for international “like-minded” alliances.
In the ornate meeting room of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Taipei, he spoke optimistically about what he hoped other nations might offer, but was careful not to cross into requests for direct military assistance, which could inflame the precarious stability of the Taiwan Strait.
However, he did not shy away from criticizing Beijing, saying its imposition of “authoritarian, even totalitarian rule” threatened to turn even its own people against it.
Beijing has dramatically built up its military capabilities, increased aerial incursions and military drills, and sharpened its rhetoric against Taipei and the US for its support of Taiwan.
In October, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) told troops to prepare for war.
Chinese control of Taiwan would significantly boost Beijing’s regional control and access to the Pacific region.
“If one of the most critical junctures of the first island chain is not in the hands of the like-minded countries, we can imagine what this is going to create in the global strategic picture,” Wu said, referencing McCarthy-era fears of China’s navy reaching the US west coast. “We definitely need to think about how we prevent it from happening.”
Wu said European countries had a renewed interest in the Indo-Pacific region, and Australia was facing “a very complicated Pacific” region.
They and other allies, such as Japan, were not obligated to support Taiwan but if Taiwan fell to China “that might have a significant [global] impact,” he said. “The like-minded countries need to come together, and we will be stronger together.”
He said Taiwan would “appreciate” intelligence information sharing and other non-military forms of support from other allies including Australia and Japan.
Taiwan was working domestically against disinformation campaigns and infiltration, but also sought international partners on hybrid warfare and security cooperation.
Wu said Taiwan wanted to show the international community and China that it was “absolutely determined to defend ourselves,” and that it had the responsibility, will and capability.
Taiwan is hugely outgunned by China. It has made major commitments to boost its defense capabilities and improve the state of its infantry, but relies on billions of US dollars in arms sales from the US.
Under a decades-old agreement the US is obliged to provide Taiwan with necessary defensive materials, but it also maintains a deterrence policy of refusing to say if it would come to Taiwan’s defense in the case of an attack.
Under the administration of US President Donald Trump, sales increased and requests were fast-tracked, something Wu said he believes would continue.
“Considering that China may want to launch an attack a couple or several years down the road in a more massive way, we need to procure more items from the United States,” he said.
Analysts have pointed to China’s military buildup and growing belligerence under the leadership of Xi, as well as its deepening hostilities with the US — a key party in cross-strait relations — to say a confrontation is growing more likely.
“We cannot assume that China will attack Taiwan or will not attack Taiwan, in what period of time,” Wu said. “But if we look at the Chinese preparation in the last couple of years, they have certainly intensified their military deployment against Taiwan, and also intensified their exercises around Taiwan,” he said.
In the past few months China has ramped up its incursions into Taiwan’s air identification zone, to near-daily flights of military jets and spy planes, according to Taiwan’s defense monitors.
Each time Taiwan scrambles its own jets in response, causing wear and tear on the fleet as well as giving China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) information about its tactics.
The PLA has also repeatedly crossed the median line of the Strait, which had until this year represented the “status quo” on maintaining peace and stability in the Strait, Wu said.
Taiwan’s multi-pronged defense strategies are preparing for a variety of Chinese moves including cyberattacks on critical infrastructure, disinformation campaigns, infiltration, large scale military assaults and a Crimea-style annexation of outlying islands, or a combination of them all.
What Taiwan really needs, Wu said, is more support in rejoining international bodies.
Few countries formally recognize Taiwan as a sovereign state and despite China’s increasing isolation on the world stage, it still wields enough power and influence to keep Taiwan out of international organizations like the WHO.
Despite growing calls for its inclusion, Taiwan has not garnered enough support for its admission to the WHO’s assembly.
“We want the international community to understand that excluding 23.5 million people here in Taiwan is definitely not fair to the Taiwanese people, and also, excluding Taiwanese people from participating in the WHO is also not fair to the rest of the international community,” he said, saying that Taiwan had plenty to share about its successful COVID-19 pandemic response.
Wu also pointed to other modes of action other governments could take in resisting Beijing’s advances and supporting Taiwan, including rethinking trades.
“Whoever is affected by Chinese expansionism will turn around and [ask] is it good for me to do business with this country? I’m sure you see that Japan, the United States, India, and now Australia, [as well as] many other countries, including in the European Union, are now saying: ‘Hey, maybe this is the time for us to rethink the strategy for dealing with China,’” Wu said.
However, he acknowledged this often came at a cost, noting China’s willingness to restrict or sanction imports as a dispute tactic, most recently shown with its ban on Australian coal and tariffs on its wine.
However, this is when international alliances were most needed, Wu said.
“Fighting alone is not the way to deal with it,” he said.
Typhoon Chanthu could make landfall as far north as Yilan or Hualien counties late tomorrow night, the Central Weather Bureau (CWB) said yesterday, adding that a land alert could be issued this afternoon or tomorrow morning. The bureau also said that it could possibly issue a sea alert late last night or early this morning. As of 2pm yesterday, Chanthu was 960km southeast of Pingtung County’s Oluanpi (鵝鑾鼻). It was moving northwest at 15kph, but was projected to shift northward as it approached the Taiwan Strait due to a weakening Pacific high-pressure system, the bureau said. The bureau is closely monitoring the typhoon,
The Han Kuang exercises, the nation’s major war games, are to start today and run for five days. The drills are to include a military aircraft emergency takeoff and landing exercise on a regular roadway on Wednesday, featuring all three fighter jet models in Taiwan’s fleet, a military source said last week. The drill is to begin at 6:30am on a 3km section of Provincial Highway No. 1 in Pingtung County’s Jiadong Township (佳冬), and feature an Indigenous Defense Fighter, an F-16V, a Mirage 2000-5 and an E-2K Hawkeye early warning aircraft, the source said. The emergency landing and takeoff drill aims to
MRNA VACCINE: Heart inflammation is rare, but possible after a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 shot, and students need to be aware of possible side effects, an expert said As Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccinations for students aged 12 to 17 are to begin on campuses on Thursday next week, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday urged recipients to be especially watchful for five signs of possible myocarditis or pericarditis, which are rare adverse reactions to some COVID-19 vaccines. The Ministry of Health and Welfare’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices convener Lee Ping-ing (李秉穎) joined the CECC’s daily news briefing to report on possible side effects after receiving a BioNTech vaccine. Lee said that cases of myocarditis and pericarditis have been observed in people in the US who have received mRNA COVID-19
Taiwan on Friday accused China of seeking to use the Honduran election to “create controversy” and undermine Taiwan’s long-standing ties with the country, saying it would strive to win support for Honduras’ relations with Taipei. Honduras’ main left-wing opposition party, the Liberty and Refoundation Party (LIBRE), led by ousted former Honduran president Manuel Zelaya, has said that if it wins November’s presidential election it would seek to “readjust” the country’s debt and establish diplomatic relations with China. Honduras is one of 15 UN member countries that maintain formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which has already warned Honduras not