China revealing its plan for Taiwan invasion, island’s foreign minister says. Source: DW Daily Bulletin

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China revealing its plan for Taiwan invasion, island’s foreign minister says

In an exclusive interview with DW, Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said China’s growing military aggression toward Taiwan reflects Beijing’s future strategy to invade the democratic island.

Wu said he was alarmed by China’s military aggression following Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei

As countries around the world grow increasingly concerned about the tension across the Taiwan Strait, Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu has said China was revealing its strategies for a future invasion of Taiwan. He warned that Beijing’s attempt to change the status quo across the Taiwan Strait could be “destabilizing, provocative and very dangerous.”

“In the first part of August, China conducted missile tests, large-scale air and sea exercises, cyberattacks, disinformation campaigns, and economic coercion against Taiwan. If you put all these [moves together], it is part of their playbook for the future invasion of Taiwan,” Wu said in an exclusive interview with DW.

“The situation is still very tense and China is trying to destroy the status quo or at least the symbol of the status quo, which is the median line of the Taiwan Strait. The status quo across the Taiwan Strait has been seen as the interest of all parties concerned in this area, or globally. When China is trying to destroy the status quo, it’s not in the interest of us or the international community,” he said.

A map of the Taiwan Strait, showing the island of Taiwan and the eastern coast of China

Since the controversial trip to Taiwan by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in early August, China has escalated its military threats against the democratic island. It staged a seven-day military exercise surrounding Taiwan and repeatedly dispatched military aircraft as well as naval vessels to cross the median line of the Taiwan Strait, an unofficial demarcation between China and Taiwan that the former does not recognize.

Wu said China was trying to use Pelosi’s visit as a pretext to justify its military threats against Taiwan, but said  Taiwan wouldn’t bow down to the increasing pressure from Beijing.

“What I would say is that Speaker Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan is a morale boost for the Taiwanese people. Taiwan has been facing the threat from China all this time, but the Chinese military threat won’t stop Taiwan from making more friends. It also will not stop international friends to come to Taiwan and show their support to us.”

‘China’s authoritarian expansion won’t stop with Taiwan’

Since the war broke out in Ukraine in February, the international community has been drawing some parallels between the Russian invasion of Ukraine and a potential Chinese invasion of Taiwan.

Wu said that despite coming under attack from Russia, Ukrainians had displayed tremendous bravery that inspired many Taiwanese people.

0:48 min

Taiwan’s Foreign Minister says China aiming for ‘reunification of their country’

“[The bravery the Ukrainians have displayed] is inspirational to the Taiwanese people, because we understand that the Chinese can also do the same thing to Taiwan. By that time, we want to show to the international community that we are just about the same degree of bravery in fighting for our country and our democratic way of life,” he told DW.

Wu added that since China imposed the National Security Law on Hong Kong more than two years ago, which has fundamentally transformed civil society in the former British colony, the international community has been talking about Taiwan as the next target of China’s expansion. “Is Taiwan going to be the last target of the Chinese authoritarian expansion? I would say no,” Wu said.

“China claims the East China Sea and they have been conducting military exercises or sending their ships to the disputed water. They have also claimed the South China Sea, and the daily patrol of the South China Sea either by their bombers or by their warships is so frequent these days. If we don’t stop it, the Chinese government is going to sign more security agreements with more Pacific countries,” he added.

In the face of heightened tension across the Taiwan Strait, Taiwan has announced a record increase in its defense budget for 2023, bringing the island’s annual defense spending to $19.41 billion (around €19.35 billion), a 13.9% year-on-year increase. Wu said Taiwan’s defense budget increase had been steady and the island was also closely working with partners like the United States to refine its defense strategies and enhance its defense capabilities.

“Other than increasing our military budget, we also conducted the reform of our military strategy. We are also discussing with the US about how we can best approach the strategy of asymmetric warfare,” he told DW. “We also have the special budget that is used for items like missiles and jet planes, and the government is determined to increase our military budget.”

4:56 min

DW’s Richard Walker on Kinmen Island

Unwavering faith in US commitment to Taiwan

At a time of increasing uncertainty in the region, many people wonder whether the US would come to Taiwan’s defense if China ever launched a military invasion. In May, President Joe Biden said the US would intervene militarily if China ever attacked Taiwan. However, the public comments were swiftly walked back by the White House, which emphasized that Washington’s official policies toward Taiwan had not changed.

While Biden’s comments created confusion about Washington’s stance on the issue of Taiwan, Wu said Taipei knows clearly that the responsibility of defending the island lies with the Taiwanese people and that the US is committed to ensuring Taiwan has the capabilities to protect itself through supplying weapons.

“We don’t doubt the US commitment to Taiwan. It’s been very clear. The defense of Taiwan is our own responsibility. If we are not committed to our own defense, we don’t have the right to ask others to sacrifice,” he explained.

Wu pointed to the recent example of two US naval vessels sailing through the Taiwan Strait as proof of Washington’s support. “This is the way that the US is showing its presence in this region. By doing that, the US is showing its commitment to peace and stability in this region,” he said.

Taiwanese opposition chastise government for risky approach

Despite the warming ties between Taiwan and the US, opposition leaders in Taiwan have criticize the current government for failing to maintain dialogue with China, saying the lack of communication with Beijing is putting Taiwan in a dangerous situation.

“Their policy is no contact, no communication, and no dialogue,” Eric Chu, chairman of Taiwan’s largest opposition party Kuomintang, told DW. “It’s totally putting Taiwan into dangerous situations. If our government is a responsible one, [they should] still maintain the dialogue with China.”

Wu said while China is Taiwan’s top trading partner, it is Taiwan’s “only source of threat.”

“The Taiwanese government has been open to dialogue with China. The president says that and the government officials have been repeating that,” he said. “As long as China is willing to discuss with Taiwan without any preconditions, Taiwan will be very forthcoming in engaging in dialogue with China.”

“When China is threatening Taiwan to such a degree, we have to look around and see who else can provide Taiwan with support. We see the United States and we see other democracies. This is what we can count on,” he added.

As the question of Taiwan’s status becomes ever more imminent, Wu reiterated that the current government is committed to maintaining the status quo, as he believed that will serve the best interests of all parties concerned. “The status quo is that the Republic of China Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China have no jurisdiction over each other,” he told DW.

“The status quo is that Taiwan is already a democracy and that Taiwanese people have a say over Taiwan’s future. That’s the policy we are pursuing,” Wu said.

Interview conducted by: Richard Walker, Tsou Tzung-Han

Edited by: Wesley Dockery

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