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U.S. to continue pursuit of strong partnership with Taiwan: Pentagon

2019/06/01 14:52:35

Washington, May 31 (CNA) The U.S. Department of Defense said Friday that it will continue to build a strong partnership with Taiwan in the Indo-Pacific region as part of its efforts to maintain security in the region.

In its Indo-Pacific Strategy Report released Friday, the Pentagon said at a time when China is escalating its pressure against Taiwan, the Washington-Taipei partnership has been critical to the region and the U.S. will continue to ensure Taiwan will have sufficient capability to defend itself.

"The United States has a vital interest in upholding the rules-based international order, which includes a strong, prosperous, and democratic Taiwan," the report said.

"The United States is pursuing a strong partnership with Taiwan and will faithfully implement the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), as part of a broader commitment to the security and stability of the Indo-Pacific," the report added. "Our partnership is vital given China's continued pressure campaign against Taiwan."

The TRA, which provides the legal basis for unofficial relations between the U.S. and Taiwan, was signed into law on April 10, 1979 by then U.S. President Jimmy Carter, several months after the U.S. switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing.

The report mentioned that Taiwan lost three diplomatic allies -- the Dominican Republic, Burkina Faso, and El Salvador -- in 2018, and some international forums continued to deny participation to Taiwan's representatives.

Although China has maintained it will pursue peaceful unification with Taiwan, Beijing has never given up the use of military force to reach the goal of unification by continuing to develop and deploy military capability against Taiwan, the report said.

"The salience of defense engagements has increased as the PLA (The Chinese People's Liberation Army) continues to prepare for contingencies in the Taiwan Strait to deter, and if necessary, compel Taiwan to abandon moves toward independence," the report said.

"As part of a comprehensive campaign to pressure Taiwan, China has increased military exercises in the vicinity of Taiwan, including circumnavigation flights by the PLA Air Force and naval exercises in the East China Sea.," the report added.

According to the Pentagon, the goal for the U.S. Department of Defense's defense engagement with Taiwan is to ensure that Taiwan remains secure, confident, and free from China's coercion, and to enable Taipei to engage Beijing peacefully and productively on its own terms.

"The Department is committed to providing Taiwan with defense articles and services in such quantity as may be necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability," the report said.

"DoD is continually engaged in evaluating Taiwan's defense needs to assist Taiwan in identifying capabilities that are mobile, survivable, and effective in resisting the use of force or other forms of coercion," the report added.

Since 2008, the U.S. administrations have notified the U.S. Congress of more than US$22 billion in arms sales to Taiwan.

In the report, the Pentagon also cited U.S. Vice President Mike Pence as saying: "America will always believe that Taiwan's embrace of democracy shows a better path for all the Chinese people."

(By Chiang Ching-yeh and Frances Huang)
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