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24 Feb, 2024 21:20

Taiwanese leaders fret over US commitment to Ukraine – media

Officials in Taipei have reportedly raised questions about what wavering support for Kiev means for their security
Taiwanese leaders fret over US commitment to Ukraine – media

US lawmakers who visited Taiwanese leaders this week have reportedly been met with apprehension and questions over Washington’s security commitments amid its stalled support for Ukraine.

“Taiwan is extremely interested in Ukraine, and extremely worried that we might walk away from Ukraine,” US Representative Mike Gallagher, who led the congressional delegation’s visit to Taipei, told reporters on Friday. Gallagher, a Wisconsin Republican who chairs the House Select Committee on China, said the visit was meant to demonstrate Washington’s unflinching support for Taiwan, regardless of who wins the US presidential election in November.

The five-member delegation met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-win and President-elect Lai Ching-te, among other leaders, during a three-day visit to the self-governing island. Such trips in recent years have contributed to a spike in tensions between Washington and Beijing, which has vowed to reunify with its breakaway province, by force if necessary. The Chinese Foreign Ministry called on US lawmakers to cease official contact with Taiwan and “stop sending any wrong signal to the separatist forces.”

Gallagher said US failure to continue supporting Ukraine in its conflict with Russia could have a destabilizing impact in the Taiwan Strait. US President Joe Biden has vowed to continue providing weapons to Kiev for “as long as it takes,” but conservative Republican lawmakers have balked at approving his request for an additional $60 billion in emergency funding. Washington ran out of Ukraine aid funding last month, after exhausting $113 billion in previously approved spending bills.

“The outcome in Ukraine matters not only for Ukraine and American credibility, but for deterrence in the Indo-Pacific, for cross-strait deterrence,” Gallagher said. He claimed that a “de-facto alliance” between Russia, China and Iran has tried to undermine Washington’s structure of international alliances, heightening the importance of steadfast support for Ukraine and Taiwan.

Taiwanese lawmaker Wang Ting-yu told the Wall Street Journal that abandoning Ukraine would “encourage the dictators in Beijing, in North Korea and in other countries. They will realize that the global leader doesn’t have the strength to keep its patience to support its allies.”

Gallagher lamented that the US still hasn’t eliminated a $2 billion backlog of deliveries under its weapons sales to Taiwan. He said Washington’s defense industrial base must be revitalized, and he suggested that setting up manufacturing partnerships in Taiwan could ease the production shortfall.

“Unlike Ukraine, Taiwan is an island and would be harder to resupply,” the congressman said. “We need to learn the lessons of why deterrence failed in Ukraine and apply them to the Indo-Pacific so we don’t find ourselves having to fight a war.”

Gallagher added that he wants the Taiwanese people to have confidence that “America stands with them, even as we sort through a very intense political season domestically.” He also sought to send a message to Beijing, “that if Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party were to ever make the incredibly foolish decision to attempt an invasion of Taiwan, that effort would fail.”