Taiwan Welcomes AUKUS Pact, Calls For Stronger Ties With Democracies

Under the threat of invasion by China, Taiwan is keen to see stronger strategic and trade partnerships in the Indo-Pacific.
By Raymond Chung and Hwang Chun-mei
Taiwan Welcomes AUKUS Pact, Calls For Stronger Ties With Democracies Taiwan’s navy soldiers stand in front of a Ta Chiang Corvette during an inauguration ceremony in Yilan, Sept. 9, 2021.
Officials and lawmakers in the democratic island of Taiwan have welcomed a trilateral security pact between the U.S., the U.K., and Australia that will help Canberra develop nuclear submarines, saying it hopes to continue to deepen its diplomatic ties with the U.S. and E.U.

Foreign ministry spokesperson Joanne Ou said the Taiwanese government had "taken note" of the AUKUS pact, and that Taiwan held common interests with the three allies.

The new security partnership announced on Sept. 15 is widely viewed as a pushback against growing Chinese military power in the region.

Under the deal, Australia will receive nuclear propulsion systems for submarines, but won't deploy nuclear weapons.

"We are an important member of the Indo-Pacific region ... and we have long shared an interest in Indo-Pacific peace and stability with countries with similar philosophies, like the U.S., Australia and the U.K," Ou told reporters.

Ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmaker Wang Ting-yu said AUKUS is clearly aimed at containing Chinese military power, especially with regard to the international waters of the South China Sea, and the Chinese Communist Party's military threat to invade Taiwan by force.

"This new military alliance ... will act as a check and balance that will improve Indo-Pacific regional stability," Wang told RFA. "It is helpful to peace and stability in this region."

"As far as Taiwan is concerned, we are happy to see this [and] it is necessary for Taiwan to cooperate with these three countries ... so as to balance the CCP's military expansionism."

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen (front row C) poses for photographs during an inauguration ceremony of a Ta Chiang Corvette at a navy base in Yilan, Sept. 9, 2021. Credit: AFP
Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen (front row C) poses for photographs during an inauguration ceremony of a Ta Chiang Corvette at a navy base in Yilan, Sept. 9, 2021. Credit: AFP
Wolf-warrior diplomacy'
DPP secretary general Liu Shih-fang said the move is a direct response to years of "wolf-warrior diplomacy" under the rule of CCP general secretary Xi Jinping.

"Taiwan is a part of the alliance of democratic countries, and we will cooperate with other democratic countries," Liu told RFA. 
"That cooperation could be [in the areas of] trade and the economy, or defense and security, or human rights."

The U.S. and Australian governments appeared to agree, saying they support Taiwan's participation in international organizations and stronger ties with Taiwan.

In a joint statement issued by the two governments at the conclusion of the 31st Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) in Washington, they said Taiwan plays an important role in the Indo-Pacific region.

"The principals emphasized their support for Taiwan's meaningful participation in international organizations, as a member where statehood is not a prerequisite and as an observer or guest where statehood is a prerequisite for membership," it said.

Meanwhile, Taiwan urged the European Union Friday to begin preparations for the possible signing of a bilateral investment deal, as part of the bloc's pledge to seek a trade deal under its newly published Indo-Pacific strategy.

The EU strategy document said the bloc plans to increase its influence in the Indo-Pacific region, in the areas of health, security, data, infrastructure, the environment, oceans, and trade.

"The EU will also pursue its deep trade and investment relationships with partners with whom it does not have trade and investment agreements, such as Taiwan," according to a communique on the strategy.

More joint exercises
The document said the EU intends to work with its Indo-Pacific partners to strengthen and diversify trade ties, which will also involve addressing strategic dependencies in supply chains.

"For semiconductors, for example, it will do so with partners such as Japan, the Republic of Korea and Taiwan," the document said.

The move came as China filed an application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Commerce Minister Wang Wentao submitted China’s application to join the free trade agreement in a letter to New Zealand’s trade minister, Damien O’Connor, the Chinese ministry said in a statement late on Thursday.

The CPTPP was signed by 11 countries including Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan and New Zealand in 2018. Before that, it was known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and seen as an important economic counterweight to China’s regional influence.

Meanwhile, the EU said China's "significant military build-up" and "display of force" as well as the "increasing tensions in regional hotspots" such as in the South and East China Sea and in the Taiwan Strait, may have a direct impact on European security and prosperity.

The EU said it will conduct more joint exercises and port calls with Indo-Pacific partners, including multilateral exercises, to fight piracy and protect freedom of navigation, while reinforcing EU naval diplomacy in the region.

Former Taiwanese Chief of General Staff Lee Hsi-ming warned on Friday that Xi has linked the invasion of Taiwan with his concept of the "Chinese Dream," and the "rejuvenation" of the Chinese nation.

He called for better defenses to deter any such attack.

"The only way to be sure is to make it impossible for him," Lee told an online forum on Friday. "The best way to fight a war is to prevent it from happening in the first place."

Lee called for bigger military reserves and a homeland defense force to boost Taiwan's own defense capabilities.

Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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