The US remains committed to help Taiwan defend itself, Washington’s de-facto ambassador to the island has said, a day after China called on the Americans to refrain from any military contact with Taipei.
“The United States has a commitment to help Taiwan provide for its self-defense, and that’s part of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA). It’s a commitment we take very seriously,” the new director of the American Institute in Taiwan, Sandra Oudkirk, said during her first press conference in this capacity on Friday.
Oudkirk added that the US commitment to Taipei’s security is “rock solid,” and noted that Washington engages regularly with partners there “to assess ways we can support Taiwan in mounting its own self-defence.” This approach, according to her, has contributed to stability and security, “not just across the Taiwan Strait, but throughout the Indo-Pacific over the past several decades.”
US President Joe Biden, speaking via video link at the East Asia Summit this week, expressed concern over China’s “coercive and proactive” actions across the Taiwan Strait that, in his words, threaten regional peace and stability. It came a few days after he said the US would defend Taiwan in case of an attack from China, though the White House quickly said there would be no change in policy.
Tensions between the US and China have recently been on the rise. After Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, confirmed that a small number of American troops were stationed on the island, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson warned the US against any military contact with Taipei and “interference in China’s internal affairs.”
The US has billions of dollars’ worth of defense contacts with Taiwan, which makes it a key supplier of military equipment to the island. Its unofficial diplomatic contacts with Taipei, as well as US warships passing through the Taiwan Strait, have long been an annoyance for China, which considers Taiwan an integral part of the country. In response, China has been sending military aircraft into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone, and has held massive beach drills directly across the strait from the island.
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