Taiwan’s foreign minister has urged the international community to defend his country against an increasing military threat from China for fear of a “real possibility” of war.
Minister Joseph Wu’s comments come ahead of the expected arrival of US Secretary of State for Economic Affairs Keith Krach on Thursday in Taiwan with a delegation for a two-day visit.
In an editorial late Wednesday, the Chinese Times said Taiwan “is destroying its strategic maneuverability by standing up completely for the US”
Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said it trusted the visit would “deepen friendship and strengthen relationships between like-minded partners.”
Wu’s comments echoed previous calls by President Tsai Ing-wen for a coalition of countries to oppose “authoritarian aggression” as China increases military and economic pressure in the region.
There were reports of unprecedented US arms sales to Taiwan, including mines, cruise missiles and drones, on the eve of Krach’s visit.
Wu told France 24 TV that Taiwan was “on the front lines defending democracies from being taken over by communist China” and needed help.
“We have worked hard in recent years to improve our own defense capabilities, while at the same time we want to make it clear to the international community that Taiwan, as a democracy, has been threatened by China, an authoritarian country trying to expand its influence,” said Wu . He cited China’s actions in the South China Sea, in Hong Kong and on the disputed border with India as examples.
“We believe that like-minded countries or other democracies should pay more attention to this area and help each other so that China’s expansionist motivation can be deterred.”
Although the Chinese Communist Party never ruled Taiwan, Beijing regards Taiwan as part of China and accuses the Tsai-led government of separatism. Beijing has never ruled out taking Taiwan by force, and defense structures and military exercises have increased in recent months. Wu said more than 30 People’s Liberation Army aircraft recently flew into Taiwan’s air defense zone.
The minister said Taiwan appreciates that the US “continues to have a presence in the region,” adding, “I think this is a show for the Chinese side that their military threat to other peace-loving countries would not have been tolerated.”
The U.S. does not have formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan, but under Donald Trump, Tapei has given increasing support, both for his successful response to the pandemic and for his stance on China’s aggression.
On Thursday, Reuters reported that the US plans to sell up to seven weapon systems to Taiwan, a rare concentration of sales by far after years of transactions.
According to the Taiwan Relations Act, the US supplies the Taiwanese government with weapons, the quantity and quality of which the then President Ronald Reagan described in 1982 as “entirely determined by the threat posed by the PRC” [People’s Republic of China]”.
According to a 2019 Department of Defense report, the US has announced more than $ 23 billion in arms sales to Taiwan over the past 10 years.
Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense declined to comment on the reported arms sales as it would keep such conversations cautious and confidential and would wait to receive formal notification of any sales to Congress.
Earlier this month, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi accused the US of directly meddling in territorial and maritime disputes in the region, flexing its muscles and stepping up its military presence. “Such acts are becoming the biggest contributor to militarization in the South China Sea,” said Wang.
Krach is said to attend a memorial service for the late Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui and discuss how bilateral economic cooperation can be strengthened, the US State Department said.
Krach’s visit follows the announcement of a new economic dialogue between the two governments, a high-profile visit by US Health Secretary Alex Azar and the Czech Speaker of Parliament, whose visit sparked a diplomatic dispute with China that attracted other European nations.