Taiwan could play a pivotal role in coast guard activities and cybersecurity in the Asia-Pacific region, Taiwanese academics said on Saturday.
They made the remarks following reports that Taiwan might participate in activities of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, a security grouping between Australia, India, Japan and the US also known as the “Quad.”
Leaders of the four nations issued a joint statement after a meeting in Washington on Friday saying that they were committed to “promoting the free, open, rules-based order, rooted in international law and undaunted by coercion.”
“We stand for the rule of law, freedom of navigation and overflight, peaceful resolution of disputes, democratic values and territorial integrity of states,” they said.
The formation of AUKUS — a trilateral security alliance between Australia, the UK and the US — as well as an earlier joint statement by Quad members showed that the US seeks to expand the grouping, said Kuo Yu-jen (郭育仁), a political science professor at National Sun Yat-sen University.
Although the latest joint statement did not specifically mention Taiwan, the issue of Taiwan’s possible role in an expanded “Quad Plus” grouping, and the nation’s cooperation with the coast guards of the US and Japan were discussed at the meeting in Washington, he said.
“AUKUS was formed specifically as a military alliance, so its likely that the US intends the Quad to be something different — more of a mechanism for the four member countries to cooperate on a variety of issues,” he said.
Aside from cooperation on coast guard affairs, Taiwan could work with the Quad on the detection of submarines, Internet security and logistics affairs, he said.
Lai I-chung (賴怡忠), a consultant at the Taiwan Thinktank, said that the nation is likely to play a key role in international cooperation on technology and medicine involving the Quad members, as Taiwan excels in the two sectors.
Lai said that 5G mobile networks and other technology, supply chains, and vaccines were mentioned in Friday’s Quad statement, which indicates that Taiwan could also play a role in these areas.
“As the formation of AUKUS frees up Quad nations’ capacities, it can now focus its efforts on other areas that will strengthen the freedoms of other regional countries,” he said. “This will attract more countries to participate in a Quad Plus.”
Asked whether Taiwan could participate in military drills with Quad countries, Lai said that such maneuvers would not make use of Taiwan’s strengths.
However he said that by “improving its defensive capabilities, Taiwan would be contributing to regional stability.”
Under AUKUS, Australia would likely commit its troops to helping Taiwan should a war break out in the Taiwan Strait, he said, adding that Japan would likely also commit its military to the cause.
“Taiwan just needs to focus on its asymmetrical warfare capabilities, strengthen its defenses and work out how to coordinate its defenses with the US, Japan and Australia,” he said.
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