Pentagon affirms commitment to Taiwan's self-defense amid tensions

10/13/2021 12:22 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Washington, Oct. 12 (CNA) The United States Department of Defense has reaffirmed its pledge to help Taiwan defend itself against Chinese military coercion, after Taiwan's defense chief warned last week that Taiwan Strait tensions are at their "grimmest in more than 40 years."

Asked at a news briefing Tuesday about the People Liberation Army's (PLA's) recent activities near the Taiwan Strait, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said the military maneuvers would only create uncertainty in a region where the U.S. wants to see stability and peace.

"The PRC [People's Republic of China] has stepped up efforts to intimidate and pressure Taiwan and other allies and partners, including increasing their military activities conducted in the vicinity of Taiwan, the East China Sea and the South China Sea," Kirby said.

The U.S. believes that those activities "are destabilizing and only increase the risk of miscalculation," he said.

Despite the recent Chinese show of force, Kirby said the U.S. remains committed to keeping the peace in the Taiwan Strait.

"We will continue to support a peaceful resolution of cross-strait issues, consistent with the wishes and best interests of the people of Taiwan," Kirby said.

"Our commitment to Taiwan is rock solid and contributes to the maintenance of peace and stability across the strait and within the region."

Maintaining that peace and stability, Kirby said, is "why we're going to continue to assist Taiwan in maintaining a sufficient self-defense capability."

Asked if the Pentagon would take any concrete actions to defend Taiwan and whether such actions would require congressional approval, the spokesman said he would not answer hypothetical questions.

He reiterated that Washington is acting in accordance with the U.S.' one-China policy, which is different from from Beijing's one-China principle under which the Chinese communist party asserts sovereignty over Taiwan.

"We take no position on sovereignty over Taiwan," he said.

Kirby's comments came amid increasing PLA incursions into Taiwan's air defense identification zone (ADIZ) in recent weeks.

In the first five days of October, a total of 150 Chinese aircraft entered Taiwan's ADIZ, with 56 planes on Oct. 4, the largest number of incursions in a single day since Taiwan's military began releasing data on such incursions in September 2020.

The military maneuvers led to a warning on Oct. 6 issued by Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正), who said the current tensions across the Taiwan Strait "are really the grimmest I have seen in more than 40 years of military service."

Chiu also warned that while invading Taiwan right now would incur a high cost for China, by 2025, Beijing would be able to lower that cost and launch a full-scale invasion.

(By Chiang Ching-yeh and Joseph Yeh)


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