China Trots Out Putin to Defend Illegal Taiwan Claims

KUBINKA, RUSSIA - AUGUST 15: (RUSSIA OUT) Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during the opening ceremony of the International Military Technical Forum 'Army 2022', on August 15, 2022, in Kubinka, outside of Moscow, Russia. Putin hailed on Monday the Russian military's action in Ukraine, which has triggered the massive Western …
Contributor/Getty Images, Chien Chih-Hung/Office of The President via Getty Images

Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Tuesday described U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) visit to Taiwan on August 2 as “a brazen demonstration of disrespect for other countries and their own international commitments,” referring to China’s illegal territorial claims to the sovereign island nation of Taiwan, Russia’s official government website reported.

Speaking in a video address to the participants and guests of the tenth Moscow Conference on International Security on August 16, Putin reportedly stated the following:

[T]he US has recently made another deliberate attempt to fuel the flames and stir up trouble in the Asia-Pacific. The US escapade towards Taiwan is not just a voyage by an irresponsible politician, but part of the purpose-oriented and deliberate US strategy designed to destabilise the situation and sow chaos in the region and the world. It is a brazen demonstration of disrespect for other countries and their own international commitments. We regard this as a thoroughly planned provocation.

Russia and China share the world’s sixth-largest international border. Moscow and Beijing maintain formal diplomatic ties with each other and have grown increasingly close in recent months following Russia’s decision to launch its latest war with neighboring Ukraine on February 24 – though, notably, China has refused to endorse the Ukrainian invasion. Putin declared prior to launching a full-scale invasion on Ukraine that the country had “no tradition” of sovereignty and was rightfully part of Russia. Beijing has emphasized Ukraine’s sovereignty in public statements on the issue.

“Taiwan is for sure not Ukraine,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in February. “Taiwan has always been an inalienable part of China’s territory. This is an indisputable historical and legal fact.”

The U.S. government imposed a raft of financial sanctions on Russian companies and entities in response to the war and successfully encouraged its political allies to follow suit. The ongoing financial sanctions campaign started on February 24. It has encouraged Moscow to turn away from traditional business and political prospects in the West in favor of alternative options in the East, especially those presented by China and India.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the G20 Foreign Ministers Meeting in Bali, Indonesia, on July 7.

“Wang repeat[ed] China’s claim to hold an ‘objective and impartial’ position on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, while also confirming deepening bilateral cooperation with Russia,” according to the website of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, which is an independent agency of the U.S. government.

Pelosi became the highest-ranking U.S. government official to visit Taiwan in 25 years when she landed in its capital of Taipei on August 2. Her visit lasted through August 3 and included a personal meeting and joint press conference with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on August 3.

During the joint press event, Pelosi addressed the “One China Policy,” stating:

Four decades ago, the Taiwan Relations Act was built – in building a strong bond between our two countries: advancing our shared interests of governance, economy and security, while respecting the ‘One China’ policy. Our solidarity with you is more important than ever, as you defend Taiwan and their freedom.

Pelosi referred to Washington’s “One China Policy,” which is the U.S. government’s interpretation of the Chinese Communist Party’s “One China Principle.” Beijing’s “One China Principle” states that the Chinese Communist Party is the “sole legitimate government representing the entire people of the People’s Republic of China.” Beijing considers Taiwan to be a part of China, thus preventing any foreign government that has established formal diplomatic relations with China from doing the same with Taipei. The U.S. government maintains formal diplomatic ties to China’s central government with its “One China Policy,” which states that only one nation on earth is named “China,” but does not necessarily include Taiwan as a part of that China.

“The United States has a longstanding one China policy, which is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the three U.S.-China Joint Communiques, and the Six Assurances. We oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo from either side; we do not support Taiwan independence; and we expect cross-Strait differences to be resolved by peaceful means,” the U.S. State Department wrote in a fact sheet published on May 28.

Beijing has increasingly threatened to “reunify” Taiwan with the Chinese “mainland,” i.e. China, as the island nation lies off China’s southeastern coast. The Chinese Communist Party reacted to Pelosi’s symbolic visit to Taiwan in early August by launching days-long, live-fire military drills in the water and airspace immediately surrounding Taiwan, which is separated from China by the Taiwan Strait. The Taiwan Strait is just 86 nautical miles wide at its narrowest point, “comparable to the distance between Key West [Florida] and Cuba,” Forbes observed in June.

 

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