U.S. reaffirms its defense obligations to Taiwan - Focus Taiwan

U.S. reaffirms its defense obligations to Taiwan

Acting U.S. Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan
Acting U.S. Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan

Singapore, June 1 (CNA) The United States said Saturday it would continue to meet its defense obligations to Taiwan at the 18th Shangri-La Dialogue-the leading security forum in the Asia-Pacific region.

Acting U.S. Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan made the remark during the three-day dialogue, which gathers defense ministers and high-ranking military officials from around the world.

Commenting on the U.S.' cooperation with countries in the Asia region, Shanahan said Washington would continue to meet its obligations under the Taiwan Relations Act to make defense articles and defense services available to Taiwan for its self-defense.

"This support empowers the people of Taiwan to determine their own future," he said.

The U.S. maintains that any resolution of differences across the Taiwan Strait must occur in the absence of coercion and accord with the will of the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, the Pentagon chief added.

Shanahan did not name any country specifically but said that some nations were using a toolkit of coercion to destabilize the region, including deploying advanced weapons systems to militarize disputed areas and promoting state-sponsored theft of other nations' military and civilian technology.

Shanahan later suggested that China was responsible for destabilizing activities in the region at Asia's biggest security gathering.

"China can and should have a cooperative relationship with the rest of the region ... but behavior that erodes other nations' sovereignty and sows distrust of China's intentions must end," he said.

Until China changes, he said, the U.S. stands against a myopic, narrow, and parochial vision of the future, and stands for the free and open order that has benefited us all - including China.

In response, Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) on Saturday expressed its appreciation for the continued support of the U.S. as the two countries celebrate the 40th anniversary of the enactment of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA).

The TRA was enacted by the U.S. Congress in 1979 after Washington cut diplomatic relations with Taiwan and forms the cornerstone of bilateral relations.

Since U.S. President Donald Trump took office on January 20, 2017, MOFA said, Washington has reaffirmed its commitment to Taiwan under the TRA and Six Assurances for three consecutive years.

As a responsible member of the Indo-Pacific region, Taiwan will continue to strengthen security cooperation with countries such as the U.S. and to contribute to the long-term stability, peace and prosperity of the region, it said.

The "Six Assurances" were issued by then U.S. President Ronald Reagan in 1982, stipulating that the U.S. would not set a date for termination of arms sales to Taiwan; alter the terms of the TRA; consult with China in advance before making decisions about arms sales to Taiwan; mediate between Taiwan and China; alter its position about the sovereignty of Taiwan or pressure Taiwan to enter into negotiations with China; or formally recognize Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan.

According to Singapore's Chinese language paper Lianhe Zaobao, Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe (魏鳳和) and Shanahan met on the sidelines of the forum on Friday, adding that Wei emphasized the issue of Taiwan during the exchange, citing Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian (吳謙).

(By Huang Tzu-chiang, Elaine Hou and Chung Yu-chen)


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