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Taiwan to bolster military ties with US

February 21, 2023

A US congressional delegation to Taiwan has reaffirmed military commitments between the two sides at a time when US-China relations are worsening.

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen at right speaks with California Rep. Ro Khanna during a meeting at the Presidential Office in Taipei, Taiwan
There has been an increase in visits from high-ranking US officials to Taiwan since 2022Image: Taiwan Presidential Office/AP/picture alliance

Taiwan and the United States will deepen military cooperation in an effort to curb "authoritarian expansionism," Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said on Tuesday, after meeting with a delegation of US lawmakers.

"Taiwan and the US (will) continue to bolster military exchanges," Tsai said. "Going forward, Taiwan will cooperate even more actively with the US and other democratic partners to confront such global challenges as authoritarian expansionism and climate change."

The president did not give more details on what these exchanges will look like.

The five-day long US congressional visit comes amid strained relations with China. 

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen, center, meet with a U.S. delegation led by California Rep. Ro Khanna, third from left during a meeting at the Presidential Office in Taipei, Taiwan
The US diplomatically recognises Taiwan as China's territoryImage: Taiwan Presidential Office/AP/picture alliance

Chip politics

The delegation was led by California representative Ro Khanna to expand "the partnership on military and defense" and to improve ties with the island's world-leading semiconductor industry. Khanna also met Morris Chang, founder of Taiwan Semicondictor Manufacturing Company — the world's largest contract chipmaker.

A pandemic-induced slowdown hit the global semiconductor chip industry hard, leading to a shortage of chips and delayed production of cars, TVs, and computers. 

Global chip shortage amid Taiwan drought

Tense relations

Relations between the US and China dipped to a low point last year when China staged military drills near Taiwan in response to a visit from then speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi. Taiwan has since seen a string of visits from high-ranking US officials, drawing China's ire.

Direct relations between two of the world's largest economies soured even more after the US spotted an alleged Chinese spy balloon flying over the west of the country and shot it down earlier in February.

Taiwan, a self-ruling island which seperated from China in 1949 after a civil war, is a geopolitical sore point. China claims Taiwan as its territory and has vowed to sieze it in the future. It opposes any official exchanges with the democracy and generally responds to visits from foreign delegations with fresh military drills in the region. 

Wu: China aiming for 'reunification'

The US officially recognizes Taiwan as part of Chinese territory but has increased its support of the island's right to self-rule at the same time.

While China and the US have at times signaled a reset in relations, little progress has been made. Russia's invasion of Ukraine has become another point of division between the two. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday warned that Beijing could be considering providing weapons to Russia for the Ukraine war.

Meanwhile, China's top diplomat was expected in Moscow on Tuesday, with a possibility of meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

Separately, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang told a security conference in Beijing that China was "deeply" concerned about the war in Ukraine and wanted a role in settling the conflict.

mk/nm (AFP, AP)