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21 Feb, 2023 05:07

Taiwan boosting military ties with Washington – president

The comments follow reports about a senior US military official’s visit to the island
Taiwan boosting military ties with Washington – president

Taiwan has said it is steadily improving military relations with the US. President Tsai Ing-wen claimed that Taipei and Washington are working together to confront ‘authoritarians’ abroad.

Speaking to a group of visiting US lawmakers who arrived in Taiwan over the weekend for a five-day stay, President Tsai said security ties with the US have continued to grow stronger.

“Taiwan and the United States continue to bolster military exchanges, and going forward Taiwan will cooperate even more actively with the United States and other democratic partners to confront such global challenges as authoritarian expansionism and climate change,” she told the lawmakers during a meeting in Taipei.

Though Tsai offered no details about the improved military cooperation, her statement follows reports that the Pentagon’s top China official – Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Michael Chase – traveled to Taiwan last week for high-level security talks. He is the most senior US military official to travel to the island since 2019, when Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia Heino Klinck met with Taiwanese officials for a quiet round of talks. 

According to the Financial Times, Taiwan’s foreign minister and national security adviser visited Washington for “secret” meetings over the weekend, with officials reportedly keeping the trip under wraps to avoid provoking a reaction from Beijing, which considers Taiwan part of its sovereign territory.

Though Chinese officials have not commented on the purported meetings in the US capital, nor the latest delegation of US lawmakers visiting the island, Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin condemned Chase’s recent trip, insisting Beijing remains “firmly opposed to official interaction and military contact between the US and the Taiwan region.”

Democratic Representative Ro Khanna, who is leading the American delegation in Taiwan, argued that the trip is “in no way provocative of China,” telling the Associated Press the visit is “consistent with the president’s foreign policy that recognizes the importance of the relationship like Taiwan, while still seeking ultimately, peace in the region.”