Washington, Oct. 16 (CNA) The top U.S. diplomat for East Asia, David Stilwell, condemned Beijing's bullying of Taiwan Wednesday and pledged continued U.S. support for Taiwan's defense needs.
Stilwell, the assistant secretary of the State Department's Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, made the remarks at a Senate hearing that discussed the implementation of Washington's Asia Reassurance Initiative Act (ARIA).
In his testimony, Stilwell condemned Beijing's efforts to bully Taiwan through exerting economic pressure, constraining Taiwan's international space and poaching Taiwan's diplomatic allies.
"These actions undermine the cross-strait status quo that has benefited both sides of the strait for decades," Stilwell said.
As the U.S. has an abiding interest in maintaining peace across the strait, the U.S. will continue to support Taiwan's defense capabilities to "meet the existing and likely future threats from the People's Republic of China," Stilwell said, citing a passage from ARIA.
Stilwell's testimony also rebutted claims that U.S. arm sales to Taiwan violate the 1982 U.S.-China Joint Communique, which mentions the gradual reduction of arms sales to Taiwan.
Citing recently declassified memos of former U.S. President Ronald Reagan, Stilwell said that "in short, the U.S. willingness to reduce its arms sales to Taiwan is conditioned absolutely upon the continued commitment of China to the peaceful solution of the Taiwan- PRC differences.... In addition, it is essential that the quality and quantity of the arms provided to Taiwan be conditioned entirely on the threat posed by the PRC."
In order to meet those needs, the U.S. has approved and notified Congress of potential sales of more than US$10 billion-worth of military equipment to Taiwan this year to preserve peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, said Stilwell.
On the topic of U.S.-Taiwan cooperation, Stilwell spoke of two new joint initiatives that the U.S. and Taiwan have launched in 2019 -- the U.S.-Taiwan Consultations on Democratic Governance in the Indo-Pacific and the U.S.- Taiwan Pacific Islands Dialogue.
The former aims to "explore ways to prevent election interference and promote adherence to the rule of law in the region," Stilwell said, while the latter seeks to "help prevent Taiwan's remaining diplomatic allies in the Pacific from taking on unsustainable and opaque debt from China."
Taiwan has lost two of its diplomatic allies -- the Pacific island nations of Kiribati and the Solomon Islands -- in recent weeks amid a diplomatic pressure campaign from China, reducing its total number of allies to 15.