Taiwan’s foreign minister reserved special praise for the Trump administration and insisted that he had “confidence in democracy” while discussing the recent election uncertainties on Tuesday.
Foreign Minister Joseph Wu noted that the democratic island has a “very good” foundation on which to build its relations with the new government.
Wu spoke to a group of British Conservative MPs during an online session organized by the China Research Group, which was formed in April to help the UK shape a tougher China policy.
In his opening address, Wu outlined some of the challenges facing Taipei in the Taiwan Strait at a time of growing Chinese influence in the region and escalating military tensions with the People’s Liberation Army, which he said has launched more than 50 incursions into the island’s airspace this year alone.
“Taiwan is at the forefront of Chinese expansionism,” said President Tsai Ing-wen’s chief diplomat. “And what is at stake is not only the future of Taiwan, but also the future of liberal democracies around the world”.
“The military intimidation against Taiwan is making our lives very difficult,” Wu told the group of Tory deputies before praising President Donald Trump and his team for their support of the island’s 23 million inhabitants.
“Fortunately, we have the United States, which is always willing to cooperate with us on security issues. They are willing to provide us with defensive items so that we can defend ourselves,” he said, adding, “The current administration is investing time, energy and resources to strengthen our own defense and ensure that China does not succumb to the illusion that it can take over Taiwan very quickly.
Asked specifically about last week’s presidential elections and how they might affect Taiwan, Wu said, “The current government is investing time, energy and resources to strengthen our own defense: “The United States is an old-style democracy. As a democracy in Taiwan, we believe in institutions.
“Even though there were election uncertainties during this period, we believe in democracy. Democracy will prevail in the end.”
Taiwan, which considers China a breakaway province, ended formal diplomatic relations with the United States in 1979, but Wu said that U.S.-Taiwan relations are “very solid.
Relations between Washington and Taipei are entering a phase that many call “the best ever,” he said. “We have a very good basis for Taiwan to work with the new government from January 20,” he added.
A friend in need
The United States was one of Taiwan’s biggest allies, while President Trump pursued a resolute anti-China policy of his own, including a ban on the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei and increased control of the influential Chinese companies TikTok and WeChat.
Multi-billion-dollar arms sales to Taipei under the provisions of the Taiwan Relations Act have angered the Chinese leadership, which has repeatedly called for a halt to support.
Taiwan’s relations with China are “not very good,” Minister Wu jokingly said as CRG Chairman Tom Tugendhat MP addressed the question of how the Taipei government is coping with its counterpart on the other side of the strait.
“Beijing has its own motives,” he said during the event. “It has different philosophies and values. These values are very different from what we value: freedom, democracy, protection of human rights, a rules-based international order, etc.”.
“We will continue to develop our relations with the United States,” he added.
“We look forward to the new government continuing to support Taiwan’s participation in international organizations or continuing to sell Taiwan defensive weapons and engage in security cooperation so that Taiwan is able to defend itself,” he said.
Wu said it was “desirable and ideal” for Taiwan to “be able to coexist peacefully with China. More than 80 percent of Taiwan’s population – a “near-consensus” in his words – wanted to maintain the status quo, he added.
However, he pointed to the “decline of freedom and democracy” in Hong Kong as proof why the Beijing model of “one country, two systems” would not work for Taipei.
Members of the CRG will be among those in the British Parliament who are e