TAIPEI, Taiwan — President Tsai Ing-wen responded to Chinese military provocations Tuesday asserting that Taiwan’s military stands ready to defend the island nation if necessary following Beijing’s decision to fly military aircraft near Taiwan this week.
The president said in her opening address :
As you may be aware, Chinese forces yesterday sent a large number of their military aircraft and vessels into our vicinity. Their actions threaten Taiwan and other like-minded countries in the region. I want to tell you that Taiwan is not intimidated. These actions only serve to strengthen our resolve. Our military forces have the capacity, determination, and commitment to defend Taiwan and not allow coercion to dictate our future.
Her statement follows a year in which Communist Party leader Xi Jinping has escalated violent rhetoric against Taiwan. In January, Xi called Taiwan’s sovereignty a “dead end” and warned, “We make no promise to abandon the use of force, and retain the option of taking all necessary measures.”
Technically called the “Republic of China,” Taiwan is a democracy and capitalist society that celebrates freedom as compared with the communist mainland, which under Xi Jinping is an authoritarian regime that represses free speech and religion with the state controlling most commerce. The United States has deep unofficial relations with Taiwan, codified in the Taiwan Relations Act passed in 1979 when then-President Jimmy Carter switched U.S. diplomatic ties to deal with the People’s Republic of China in Beijing over the Republic of China here in Taiwan.
Mainland China refuses to have official diplomatic relations with any country that has official diplomatic ties to Taiwan, so the United States operates unofficially here through a non-profit called the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT). AIT is opening a brand new compound here on Taiwan that hosted a reception Monday evening attended by a bipartisan U.S. congressional delegation, led by former House Speaker Paul Ryan and Reps. Don Bacon (R-NE) and Hank Johnson (D-GA) among others.
Breitbart News is among a group of international media outlets which sent journalists invited for a series of economic, security, and cultural briefings by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) in the United States. TECRO is Taiwan’s counterpart to AIT, a de facto embassy of Taiwan in the U.S.
Multiple officials in Taiwan say that relations between the United States and Taiwan have grown measurably stronger under President Donald Trump’s administration, especially as Trump and his administration has awakened the world to the rising threat of communist China’s economic and security practices. Tsai, Taiwan’s president, announced at the conference here on Tuesday that the United States has just made a major arms sale to Taiwan.
The collaboration includes, according to Tsai, training of Taiwan Air Force officials by their U.S. Air Force counterparts.
“At this critical moment, we have received notification of the Trump administration’s third arms sale to Taiwan,” Tsai said. “This arms sale is on the training of our Air Force pilots and air space. It trains our pilots to be the same caliber of their American colleagues. It enhances their ability to defend our air space. I want to express my appreciation to the U.S. government for their announcement. I look forward to our best and brightest receiving the very best training in the world.”
Ryan, in his remarks to the conference, was similarly critical of the Chinese military actions designed to scare Taiwan. He said:
Just yesterday, as President Tsai mentioned, numerous Chinese aircraft flew maneuvers through airspace separating Taiwan and the Philippines, a maneuver that was clearly meant to intimidate Taiwan. Chinese military planes have completely circled Taiwan at least 20 times since November 2017. A Chinese aircraft carrier has circled Taiwan a total of five times since 2013. On March 31, two Chinese fighter jets crossed the median line in the Taiwan Strait, in China’s first incursion across the line in two decades. These kinds of things should stop. They are irresponsible and they undermine the framework that has enabled peace and stability and development for decades. It’s counterproductive. It is self-evident that perhaps the most destabilizing element of cross-Strait relations is Beijing’s refusal to renounce the use of force to complete its goal of reunification. The world is watching. The world is watching whether Beijing treats Taiwan with the dignity and respect it deserves, and make no mistake about it—this is a crucial test whether China is qualified to take on the leadership role internationally that it believes is befitting its size and stature.
Brent Christensen, the AIT director which is essentially a de facto U.S. ambassador to Taiwan, said in his remarks to the conference that the Chinese actions this week were unacceptable.
“Yesterday’s exercise, conducted near Taiwan, is the latest example of counterproductive and provocative action,” Christensen said. “As National Security Adviser John Bolton wrote, Chinese military provocations won’t win any hearts and minds in Taiwan but they will strengthen the resolve of people everywhere who value democracy.”
This piece is the first of many to come from Breitbart News’ latest reporting trip to Taiwan.