SELF-RELIANCE: Taiwan will not rely on others for its defense and is committed to protecting its security and democratic way of life, President Tsai Ing-wen said
/ Reuters, WASHINGTON
Taiwan will not rely on others for its defense, President Tsai Ing-wen （蔡英文） said on Wednesday, while welcoming a US commitment to the nation’s security during what she called Chinese encroachment on its sovereignty.
Tsai’s remarks, pre-recorded and delivered to a US audience at a Washington forum, came after US President Joe Biden last month pledged to defend Taiwan in the event of any “unprecedented attack” by China.
In her address to the Washington-based Global Taiwan Institute think tank, Tsai thanked the Biden administration and the US Congress for upholding the US commitment to Taiwan’s security and for recent US military arms sales.
“But we will not depend on others to come to our own defense,” Tsai said.
“That is why I want to reiterate that Taiwan is fully committed to protecting our security and maintaining our democratic way of life. We’re also working to adapt our defense strategy to the changing threats we face,” she said.
Although the White House has said Biden’s pledge did not signify a change in US policy, critics said he might have undercut — intentionally or not — a US stance of not taking a position on Taiwan’s independence.
China mounted large-scale military drills after an August visit to Taipei by US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Chinese military activities have continued since then, although at a much reduced level. Chinese military aircraft have continued routinely crossing the median line of the Taiwan Strait, which had for years acted as an unofficial barrier.
Taiwan on Wednesday said that eight Chinese fighters flew across the median line.
Tsai said those operations “encroach on Taiwan’s sovereignty and threaten peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.”
“We know from history and current events that threats against any one country or region translate directly and indirectly to increasing threats against its neighbors,” she said.
American Institute in Taiwan Chairman James Moriarty said “strategic ambiguity” over whether Washington would come to Taiwan’s defense had never been stated as policy in any documents.
“It’s never been a policy. It’s been a description of what we do,” Moriarty told the forum.
Referring to the US’ decades-old Taiwan Relations Act, which forms the basis of the US’ unofficial ties with Taiwan, he said: “The original documents make it clear that we would have to do something if there is an attempt to change Taiwan’s status by force.”
Moriarty added that he did not think Chinese President Xi Jinping （習近平） had set a deadline of 2027 to take Taiwan, only that China’s military should have the capability to do so by then.
“We have no idea what impact a slowing economy has on his thinking. We have no idea what impact the Russian failures in Ukraine have on his thinking… So is there a firm deadline? I don’t think so,” he said.