(AFP) Taiwan will strengthen its military ties with the United States to contain “authoritarian expansionism,” President Tsai Ing-wen announced Tuesday (21), after meeting with U.S. lawmakers visiting the Southeast Asian island.
This five-day stay by members of the US Congress comes after the arrival on Friday of US Assistant Secretary of Defense Michael Chase to the island territory, according to the British newspaper Financial Times.
“Taiwan and the United States will continue to strengthen military exchanges,” Tsai said after receiving the lawmakers at her office in Taipei.
“In the future, Taiwan will cooperate even more actively with the United States and other democratic partners to address global challenges such as authoritarian expansionism and climate change,” he added.
Tsai did not provide details on what kind of military exchanges may occur in the future, but said it is time to “explore more possibilities for cooperation” between the island and the United States.
“Together we can continue to protect the values of democracy and freedom,” he said.
Wang Wenbin, spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, accused the Taiwanese leadership of “provocation,” warning that “any futile separatist plot or plan that relies on foreign forces to undermine cross-Strait relations will be counterproductive and will never succeed.”
Taiwanese authorities “cannot change the inevitable general trend toward Chinese unification,” Wang said at his regular press conference.
- Military and defense association –
China estimates that Taiwan, with a population of 23 million, is one of its provinces, which has failed to reunify with the rest of its territory since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949.
Beijing opposes any official or military contact between the island’s authorities and foreign countries.
However, in recent years, several official trips by U.S. officials have drawn Beijing’s ire.
Relations between China and the United States deteriorated after the United States destroyed a Chinese balloon in early February over American territory, presented by Washington as a spying device and by Beijing as a civilian airship.
In Taipei, California Representative Ro Khanna, a member of the new House committee on strategic competition with the Communist Party of China, said the purpose of the visit was to expand the “defense of the military and security partnership” and consolidate U.S. ties with the island, a leader in the semiconductor industry.
The Democratic congressman said he “particularly appreciated” his meeting with Morris Chang, founder of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the world’s largest chipmaker.
The semiconductor industry has been rocked by a global economic slowdown, which has reduced demand, and a series of U.S. export controls to limit Beijing’s ability to buy and manufacture next-generation chips.