China’s threat to Taiwan is “more serious than ever,” but the island will stand firm in defending its independence and democracy — welcoming those who support it, Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu told CNN in an interview Monday.
Wu’s message came as China said it was counterintuitive Military drills around the autonomous island, then a A four-day show of force Following US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taipei last week.
“China has always threatened Taiwan for years and has become more serious in recent years,” Wu said. “Whether or not Speaker Pelosi visits Taiwan, the Chinese military threat to Taiwan is always there and that is a fact that we must face.”
Welcoming foreign allies to the island was an important part of Taiwan’s strategy to counter China’s efforts to isolate Taiwan from the international community. – Wu said, regardless of the possible reaction from Beijing.
“(China) cannot dictate to Taiwan not to welcome anyone who likes to come and show support for Taiwan,” Wu said. Foreign Minister of Taiwan From 2018.
Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan – was the first by a sitting House Speaker on the island in 25 years Strongly opposed by China’s ruling Communist Party, which considers Taiwan its territory even though it never controlled it.
In the wake of Pelosi’s visit, Beijing has stepped up pressure on Taiwan, including Financial penaltyMissile launch on the island For the first time, and there were drills that Taipei said “Simulate” the attack Against his main island and navy.
Although the drills were originally expected to end on Sunday, drills around Taiwan continued on Monday, according to an announcement by China’s military.
But as live-fire drills sparked global fears of a possible military conflict, the mood in Taiwan remained calm, with life going on as usual with packed restaurants and crowded public transport.
For Wu, the threat has become more serious as Taiwan continues to build its international relations and demonstrate that it is not intimidated.
“I worry that China will really start a war against Taiwan,” he said. “But what it’s doing right now is trying to scare us, and the best way to deal with that is to show China that we’re not scared.”
Although her journey was long and Much discussedTaiwanese officials received short notice of her arrival, Wu said.
“Her travel is always subject to a lot of considerations, especially security considerations … We didn’t find out until the very last minute when she set her plans,” Wu said, adding that Taipei knew the itinerary a few days in advance, but not the exact time of her arrival.
The visit by the speaker and an accompanying congressional delegation included meetings with Taiwan’s legislature and the office of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, where Pelosi said she came to send an “unequivocal message” that “America stands with Taiwan.”
Wu said his most memorable impression of the trip was greeting Pelosi and the delegation at the airport, where she “showed her charm” by saying she had been looking forward to her visit for a long time.
“And by the time she left, she not only said goodbye to me, but to the ground crew, the security people and the people taking care of the airport one by one,” Wu said.
Asked if the United States would increase its support for Taiwan after the visit, Wu said the US had always been “very supportive” of Taiwan – but the current support was “unprecedented”.
In an exclusive interview with CNN last October, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen Confirmed Some US military instructors were in Taiwan – the first time a Taiwanese leader had acknowledged their presence since Washington and Taipei severed diplomatic ties in 1979.
But understanding the American support Beijing was furious Opposing the speaker’s visit, China’s foreign ministry issued a statement on the heels of Pelosi’s arrival on Tuesday evening, saying her visit would “seriously affect the political foundation of Sino-US relations” and “seriously undermine peace and stability in Taiwan.” Strait.”
Beijing announced large-scale military exercises in six zones around the island of Taiwan shortly after Pelosi’s arrival in response to China’s alleged violation of “sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
While the US and many of its allies condemned the drills, China defended its actions as “legal and just”, saying it was the US, not China, that was “rejecting and destabilizing peace in the Taiwan Strait”. China claims “sovereign rights and jurisdiction”.
Taiwan and China have been governed independently since 2008 End of Civil War Seven decades ago, in which defeated nationalists fled to Taipei. Taiwan Transition from authoritarian rule to democracy In the 1990s, and now Freedom House, a US-based non-profit organization ranks it as one of the freest jurisdictions in Asia.
In recent years, as his power grows, Chinese leader Xi Jinping has made clear his ambition to “reunify” the island – by force if necessary.
Wu accused China of trying to change the situation in the Taiwan Strait with recent military exercises. across the midline – the halfway point between the island and mainland China that was formerly the unofficial but largely respected boundary of control between Beijing and Taipei.
According to Taiwan’s Defense Ministry accounts, dozens of Chinese warplanes crossed the median line between Thursday and Sunday. While the unofficial median line has maintained peace in the Taiwan Strait for decades, China now openly denies its existence.
“This kind of behavior disturbs the status quo and destroys peace and stability in the region and should not be accepted,” Wu said, adding that China had sought to declare the Taiwan Strait as its internal waters “for some time”. Before Pelosi’s visit.
As China seeks to expand its influence in the western Pacific, it has implications beyond Taiwan, Wu said. But he also noted that he is optimistic about the future.
He said, “Democracy is going to win. “If you look at a dictatorship, it is not flexible. It may appear firmer and appear to be expanding. But it is not flexible and will break at some point. ”
When asked whether the situation can be called a crisisWu said it was finally up to Beijing.
“It is up to the will of Chinese leaders to see whether relations with Taiwan are to continue in a peaceful and stable manner.”
Wu said he did not know if Chinese leaders had “made up their minds” to use force to take over Taiwan, but that Taiwanese officials were “looking at many different scenarios,” particularly because of concerns that Beijing could distract domestically. Troubled by creating a crisis in the Taiwan Strait.
“The important thing for us is that we have to be prepared,” Wu said. “We want to protect the freedom and democracy we enjoy here. No one can take that away from us.”