Biden, Suga discuss Taiwan Strait situation at G7 Summit

06/13/2021 05:18 PM
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Photo from https://www.facebook.com/G7
Photo from https://www.facebook.com/G7

Washington, June 12 (CNA) United States President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Saturday discussed the Taiwan Strait situation, among many global challenges, on the sidelines of the Group of Seven summit in the United Kingdom.

"President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. spoke today with Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide of Japan at the G7 to discuss shared challenges in the Indo-Pacific and the world," said a press readout published Saturday by the White House on its website.

These include "COVID-19, climate change, North Korea, China, and preserving peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait," the White House said.

It added that Biden affirmed his support for strengthening the U.S.-Japan alliance, extending cooperation to new areas like the Build Back Better World (B3W) initiative and strengthening shared ties with other allies and partners.

The G7, an organization of leaders from the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and Japan opened this year's three-day summit in Cornwall, England on Friday.

According to an earlier news report by the Tokyo-based Nihon keizai shinbun (Nikkei), Washington and Tokyo will seek to include words underscoring peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and encouraging the peaceful resolution of cross-strait issues in the G7 joint declaration.

The Taiwan Strait is considered one of the potential flashpoints in the region by security analysts, as cross-strait relations have continued to deteriorate following the reelection of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) from the independent-leaning Democratic Progressive Party in 2020.

Since then, China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) has increased military exercises near Taiwan and the intrusion of military planes into Taiwan's air defense identification zone (ADIZ).

According to data from Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense, the PLA flew more than 2,900 sorties into Taiwan's ADIZ in 2020 while more than 300 PLA sorties have occurred in the first five months of 2021.

The maneuvers of these Chinese military aircraft have often prompted Taiwan's Air Force to scramble its interceptors, raising the possibility of unplanned encounters.

Meanwhile, Suga expressed his support for Taiwan's bid to participate in the World Health Assembly (WHA) as an observer during the second day of the G7 Summit, another report from Nikkei said on Sunday (Tokyo time).

Suga stressed that the world should not leave any "geographical vacuums" in addressing health issues such as infectious disease control, the report said.

In response, Taiwan's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Suga's statement highlights the need for and urgency of Taiwan's participation in the World Health Organization (WHO).

The ministry thanked Japan for its vaccine donation earlier in the month and lauded Japan as an "important partner and precious friend."

The WHA is the decision body of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Taiwan, whose formal designation is the Republic of China, left the WHO in 1972, a few months after withdrawing from the United Nations.

Since then, Taiwan has not been able to participate in the WHA, even as an observer, due opposition from Beijing, except from 2009-2016, when cross-strait relations were warmer under the then-Kuomintang government.

(By Chiang Chin-yeh and Emerson Lim)

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