The Chinese government on Wednesday accused Taiwan's ruling party of seeking independence, a day after the self-governing island's president lobbied for Australia's support in joining a regional trade pact. Zhu Fenglian, spokesperson for China's Taiwan Affairs Office, also said the recent Chinese military drills around Taiwan were held to combat "the arrogance of Taiwan independence separatist forces." United States and China launch economic and financial working groups with aim of easing tensions China claims Taiwan, an island about 160 kilometers (100 miles) off its east coast, as its territory. The two split during the civil war that brought the Communists to power in China in 1949, with the losing Nationalists setting up their own government in Taiwan. Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, meeting with six visiting Australian lawmakers on Tuesday, sought their country's support for Taiwan's bid to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, an 11-nation free trade agreement. Bangladesh, China to work together to push relations to a new height, says Dipu Moni The Australian parliamentary delegation discussed strengthening economic cooperation with Taiwan, particularly in clean energy, and expressed an interest in Taiwan's semiconductor industry. Zhu said that any participation by Taiwan in a regional economic grouping should be handled in accordance with the "one-China principle," which holds that the Communist Party is the government of China and Taiwan is a part of the country. "The Democratic Progressive Party's attempt to seek independence in the name of economy and trade will not succeed," she said, referring to Tsai's political party. Army Chief leaves for China to attend 19th Asian Games Zhu signaled that China would not ease up on its military activity around Taiwan. "As long as Taiwan independence's provocations continue, the People's Liberation Army's actions to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity will not stop," she said.
China's defense minister defended sailing a warship across the path of an American destroyer and Canadian frigate transiting the Taiwan Strait, telling a gathering of some of the world's top defense officials in Singapore on Sunday that such so-called "freedom of navigation" patrols are a provocation to China. In his first international public address since becoming defense minister in March, Gen. Li Shangfu told the Shangri-La Dialogue that China doesn't have any problems with "innocent passage" but that "we must prevent attempts that try to use those freedom of navigation (patrols), that innocent passage, to exercise hegemony of navigation." U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told the same forum Saturday that Washington would not "flinch in the face of bullying or coercion" from China and would continue regularly sailing through and flying over the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea to emphasize they are international waters, countering Beijing's sweeping territorial claims. That same day, as a U.S. guided-missile destroyer and a Canadian frigate were intercepted by a Chinese warship as they transited the strait between the self-governed island of Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory, and mainland China. The Chinese vessel overtook the American ship and then veered across its bow at a distance of 150 yards (about 140 meters) in an "unsafe manner," according to the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. Additionally, the U.S. has said a Chinese J-16 fighter jet late last month "performed an unnecessarily aggressive maneuver" while intercepting a U.S. Air Force reconnaissance aircraft over the South China Sea, flying directly in front of the plane's nose. Those and previous incidents have raised concerns of a possible accident occurring that could lead to an escalation between the two nations at a time when tensions are already high. Li suggested the U.S. and its allies had created the danger, and should instead should focus on taking "good care of your own territorial airspace and waters." "The best way is for the countries, especially the naval vessels and fighter jets of countries, not to do closing actions around other countries' territories," he said through an interpreter. "What's the point of going there? In China we always say, 'Mind your own business.'" In a wide-ranging speech, Li reiterated many of Beijing's well-known positions, including its claim on Taiwan, calling it "the core of our core interests." He accused the U.S. and others of "meddling in China's internal affairs" by providing Taiwan with defense support and training, and conducting high-level diplomatic visits. "China stays committed to the path of peaceful development, but we will never hesitate to defend our legitimate rights and interests, let alone sacrifice the nation's core interests," he said. "As the lyrics of a well-known Chinese song go: 'When friends visit us, we welcome them with fine wine. When jackals or wolves come, we will face them with shotguns.'" In his speech the previous day, Austin broadly outlined the U.S. vision for a "free, open, and secure Indo-Pacific within a world of rules and rights." In the pursuit of such, Austin said the U.S. was stepping up planning, coordination and training with "friends from the East China Sea to the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean" with shared goals "to deter aggression and to deepen the rules and norms that promote prosperity and prevent conflict." Li scoffed at the notion, saying "some country takes a selective approach to rules and international laws." "It likes forcing its own rules on others," he said. "Its so-called 'rules-based international order' never tells you what the rules are and who made these rules." By contrast, he said, "we practice multilateralism and pursue win-win cooperation." Li is under American sanctions that are part of a broad package of measures against Russia — but predate its invasion of Ukraine — that were imposed in 2018 over Li's involvement in China's purchase of combat aircraft and anti-aircraft missiles from Moscow. The sanctions, which broadly prevent Li from doing business in the United States, do not prevent him from holding official talks, American defense officials have said. Still, he refused Austin's invitation to talk on the sidelines of the conference, though the two did shake hands before sitting down at opposite sides of the same table together as the forum opened Friday. Austin said that was not enough. "A cordial handshake over dinner is no substitute for a substantive engagement," Austin said. The U.S. has noted that since 2021 — well before Li became defense minister — China has declined or failed to respond to more than a dozen requests from the U.S. Defense Department to talk with senior leaders, as well as multiple requests for standing dialogues and working-level engagements. Li said that "China is open to communications between our two countries and also between our two militaries," but without mentioning the sanctions, said exchanges had to be "based on mutual respect." "That is a very fundamental principle," he said. "If we do not even have mutual respect, than our communications will not be productive." He said that he recognized that any "severe conflict or confrontation between China and the U.S. will be an unbearable disaster for the world," and that the two countries need to find ways to improve relations, saying they were "at a record low." "History has proven time and again that both China and the United States will benefit from cooperation and lose from confrontation," he said. "China seeks to develop a new type of major-country relationship with the United States. As for the U.S. side, it needs to act with sincerity, match its words with deeds, and take concrete actions together with China to stabilize the relations and prevent further deterioration," Li said.
Former British Prime Minister Liz Truss warned of the economic and political threats to the West posed by China during a visit Wednesday to Beijing's democratic rival Taiwan. Truss is the first former British prime minister since Margaret Thatcher in the 1990s to visit the self-governing island republic that China claims as its own territory, to be conquered by force if necessary. Still a sitting member of the House of Commons, Truss follows a growing list of elected representatives and former officials from the U.S., EU nations and elsewhere who have visited Taiwan to show their defiance of China’s threats and attempts to cut off the island and its high-tech economy from the international community. “There are those who say they don’t want another Cold War. But this is not a choice we are in a position to make. Because China has already embarked on a self-reliance drive, whether we want to decouple from their economy or not," Truss said in an address to the Prospect Foundation at a hotel in the Taiwanese capital, Taipei. “China is growing its navy at an alarming rate and is undertaking the biggest military build-up in peacetime history,” she said. "They have already formed alliances with other nations that want to see the free world in decline. They have already made a choice about their strategy. The only choice we have is whether we appease and accommodate — or we take action to prevent conflict,” Truss said. Elsewhere, Truss praised her successor, Rishi Sunak, for describing China as “the biggest long-term threat to Britain” in comments last summer and for urging the closure of Chinese government-run cultural centers known as Confucius Institutes, which have been criticized as outlets for Communist Party propaganda. Such services could instead be provided by people from Taiwan and Hong Kong who come to the United Kingdom of their own volition. In Beijing, spokesperson for the Cabinet's Taiwan Affairs Office Mao Xiaoguang accused Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party of "spending the tax money of the Taiwanese people to bribe some anti-China politicians who have stepped down from office to stage a farce of seeking external support for independence in Taiwan." Ma also renewed China's military threats against Taiwan, a day after the Chinese Defense Ministry condemned U.S. military assistance to the island. “If they continue to challenge and force us, we will have to take decisive measures to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Ma told reporters at a biweekly news conference. “No one should underestimate our strong determination, unwavering will and strong ability.” Next year is seen by some as a crucial period for tense relations between the sides, with U.S. and Taiwanese voters going to the polls. Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen has served the maximum two terms and Vice President Lai Ching-te, a strong independence supporter, will be running for the DPP. Meanwhile, the main opposition Nationalist Party, or Kuomintang, on Wednesday nominated local politician Hou Yu-ih as its candidate in the January election. Hou rose to prominence as a top police official but has relatively little experience dealing with China and Taiwan's international partners. Taiwan will also elect a new legislature, which is currently controlled by the ruling party. China's relations with Britain and most other Western democracies have been in steep decline in recent years, largely as a result of disputes over human rights, trade technology and China's aggressive moves toward Taiwan and in the South China Sea. Beijing's relations with London have been especially bitter over China's sweeping crackdown on free speech, democracy and other civil liberties in Hong Kong, a former British colony that was promised it would retain its freedoms after the handover to Chinese rule in 1997. China has said a key previous bilateral agreement on Hong Kong no longer applies and has rejected British expressions of concern as interference in China's domestic political affairs. China has also been angered by a joint Australian-U.S.-British agreement known as AUKUS that would provide Australia with nuclear-powered submarines in part to counter the perceived rising threat from China. Truss, who served an ill-fated seven weeks as prime minister last year, also said China could not be trusted to follow through on its commitments in areas from trade to protection of the environment. And she praised Taiwan as “an enduring rebuke to totalitarianism” whose fate was a "core interest" to Europe. “A blockade or invasion of Taiwan would undermine freedom and democracy in Europe. Just as a Russian victory in Ukraine would undermine freedom and democracy in the Pacific," Truss said. "We in the United Kingdom and the free world must do all we can to back you,” she said. Truss' remarks also stood in stark contrast to published comments from French President Emmanuel Macron last month that elicited doubts about whether Macron’s views were in line with other European countries on Taiwan’s status. “The question we need to answer, as Europeans, is the following: Is it in our interest to accelerate (a crisis) on Taiwan? No,” Macron was quoted as saying in the interview. “The worst thing would be to think that we Europeans must become followers on this topic and take our cue from the U.S. agenda and a Chinese overreaction.” Shortly afterward, Macron denied any change on France's views toward Taiwan, saying, “We are for the status quo, and this policy is constant.”
A delegation of United States defense contractors and a former senior leader of the U.S. Marine Corps pledged the beginning of deeper cooperation with Taiwan on Wednesday. Taiwan has faced increasing pressure from China in the years since Tsai Ing-wen was elected president. China, which claims the island as its territory, has poached Taiwan’s diplomatic allies and sent military planes and ships toward the island on a near-daily basis. It also held large-scale drills modeling a blockade and simulated strikes on important targets on the island twice within the past year. Speaking at a public forum in Taiwan's capital Taipei, retired Lt. Gen. Steven Rudder said the U.S. wants to be part of the defense capabilities of Taiwan and improve the supply chain resilience of the island. He also emphasized how critical the island's position is for security. “For the Asia-Pacific, I would offer there’s not another more important area in the world to maintain peace,” Rudder said Wednesday morning at the Taiwan-U.S. Defense Industry Forum. “So (when) you hear ‘a free and open Indo-Pacific,’ this is a small part of ensuring that shared vision remains intact.” "We want to be part of the self-defense capabilities of Taiwan," he said. ALso Read: US ex-security adviser calls for closer ties with Taiwan Rudder, who was in charge of Marines operations in the Pacific, said the visit was within the U.S.' multiple agreements with China and laws related to Taiwan, such as the Taiwan Relations Act, which requires Washington to ensure Taiwan can defend itself. The legislation was enacted decades ago when the U.S. administration first recognized China and broke off official diplomatic relations with Taipei. The event was co-hosted by a trade group from the U.S. and another from Taiwan as the public-facing portion of the defense contractors' visit. Although it's unclear whether the groups will sign specific deals, local media reported that the United States was looking at cooperation in production of certain products. Part of that cooperation would be ensuring both sides can work together to use the weapons systems Taiwan bought alongside the island's existing self-produced defense capabilities. Washington is Taipei's largest unofficial partner and the supplier of a vast majority of Taiwan's defense purchases. “I’ll say it very simply: The endgame is joint interoperability,” Rudder said. A group of about 20 activists protested outside. “American warmongers are a scourge on Taiwan,” read one of the banners. “They sell all sorts of outdated ammunition to Taiwan and make tens of billions of U.S. dollars from Taiwan every year,” said David T. Chien, vice-chair of the Blue Sky Action Alliance, which supports unification with China. Between 6 a.m. Tuesday and 6 a.m. Wednesday, 27 Chinese warplanes and a drone flew toward Taiwan, according to Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense. The drone encircled the island, according to a flight map from the defense ministry, while seven navy vessels sailed the waters close by.
A former U.S. national security adviser called for deeper interaction between his country and Taiwan during a visit Saturday to the self-ruled island, which has seen increasing military threats from China. John Bolton, a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2024, said at a pro-Taiwan independence event in Taipei that national security teams from both sides must develop contingency plans on how to respond to actions Beijing might take, warning it would be too late once an attack occurs. “And we have to tell China and Russia what the consequences are if they take actions against Taiwan. Not just in the immediate response, but over the longer term, to basically excommunicate China from the international economic system if it did take military actions against Taiwan or attempt to throw a blockade around it," Bolton said. Bolton, former President Donald Trump's hawkish national security adviser, started his week-long trip to Taiwan on Wednesday. The visit reflects the importance of the island's democracy as an issue in the U.S. presidential election next year amid heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing. Taiwan and China split in 1949 following a civil war that ended with the Communist Party in control of the mainland. The island has never been part of the People’s Republic of China, but Beijing says it must unite with the mainland, by force if necessary. The U.S. remains Taiwan’s closest military and political ally, despite the lack of formal diplomatic ties between them. U.S. law requires Washington to treat all threats to the island as matters of “grave concern,” though it remains ambiguous over whether American forces would be dispatched to help defend the island. Bolton said the backlog of U.S. military sales to Taiwan is estimated to be $19 billion and it needs to be resolved. “Part of that is a U.S. problem. Our defense industrial base is not as strong as it used to be. We need to improve that for global reasons, but particularly for Taiwan,” he said. On Friday, the Taiwanese Defense Ministry said China’s military flew 38 fighter jets and other warplanes near Taiwan. That was the biggest such flight display since the large military exercise in which it simulated sealing off the island after the sensitive April 5 meeting between Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. China opposes any exchanges at the official level between Taiwan and other governments. Later Friday, China’s People’s Liberation Army also issued a protest over the flight of a United States Navy P-8A Poseidon anti-submarine patrol aircraft through the Taiwan Strait, calling it a provocation that the U.S. “openly hyped up." But the U.S. 7th Fleet said Thursday’s flight was in accordance with international law and “demonstrates the United States’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.” Bolton is scheduled to join a banquet on Monday organized by the Formosan Association for Public Affairs, a pro-independence organization headquartered in Washington, D.C. Tsai will also attend the event.
Top diplomats from the Group of Seven wealthy democracies are tackling two major worries in Northeast Asia, vowing a tough stance on China’s increasing threats to Taiwan and North Korea's unchecked tests of long-range missiles. Another major crisis, Russia’s war in Ukraine, will also consume the agenda Monday as the diplomats gather in this Japanese hot spring resort town for Day Two of talks meant to pave the way for action by G-7 leaders when they meet next month in Hiroshima. For the American delegation, the meeting comes at a crucial moment in the world’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and efforts to deal with China, two issues that G-7 ministers from Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Canada, Italy and the European Union regard as potent challenges to the post-World War II rules-based international order. Also Read: G7 vows to step up moves to renewable energy, zero carbon A senior U.S. official traveling with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters that the Biden administration’s goal for the talks is to shore up support for Ukraine, including a major initiative on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure launched at last year’s G-7 gatherings in Germany, as well as to ensure the continued provision of military assistance to Kyiv. Ramping up punishment against Russia for the conflict, particularly through economic and financial sanctions that were first threatened by the G-7 in December 2021, before the invasion, will also be a priority, the official said. Ukraine faces an important moment in coming weeks with Russia’s current offensive largely stalled and Ukraine preparing a counter-offensive. The U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss Blinken’s priorities at the closed-door meetings, said there would be discussion about ways to deepen support for Ukraine’s long-term defense and deterrence capabilities. That might also improve Kyiv’s position for potential negotiations that could end the conflict on its terms. The role of Japan — the only Asian member of the G-7 — as chairman of this year's talks provides an opportunity to discuss coordinated action on China. Leaders and foreign ministers of G-7 countries, most recently France and Germany, have recently concluded visits to China, and the diplomats in Karuizawa are expected to discuss their impressions of where the Chinese stand on numerous issues, including the war in Ukraine, North Korea, and Taiwan, which is a particular sore point in U.S.-Chinese relations. At a private working dinner on Sunday night that marked the diplomats’ first formal meeting, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi urged continued dialogue with China on the many global challenges where participation from Beijing is seen as crucial. Among the Chinese interests that are intertwined with those of wealthy democracies are global trade, finance and climate efforts. But the diplomats are also looking to address China’s more aggressive recent stance in Northeast Asia, where it has threatened Taiwan, the self-governing democracy that Beijing claims as its own. Hayashi told ministers that outside nations must continue “building a constructive and stable relationship, while also directly expressing our concerns and calling for China to act as a responsible member of the international community,” according to a summary of the closed-door dinner. China recently sent planes and ships to simulate an encirclement of Taiwan. Beijing has also been rapidly adding nuclear warheads, taking a tougher line on its claim to the South China Sea and painting a scenario of impending confrontation. The worry in Japan can be seen it its efforts in recent years to make a major break from its self-defense-only post-WWII principles, working to acquire preemptive strike capabilities and cruise missiles to counter growing threats. Blinken, the top U.S. diplomat, had been due to visit Beijing in February, but the trip was postponed because of a Chinese spy balloon incident over U.S. airspace and has yet to be rescheduled. Blinken met briefly with China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, on the sidelines of the Munich Security Forum, but high-level contacts between Washington and Beijing have become rare. Thus, Blinken will be seeking insight from his French and German counterparts on their interactions with the Chinese, the senior U.S. official said. Despite indications, notably comments from French President Emmanuel Macron, that the G-7 is split over China, the official said there is shared worry among G-7 nations over China’s actions. The official added that the foreign ministers would be discussing how to continue a coordinated approach to China. North Korea is also a key area of worry for Japan and other neighbors in the region. Since last year, Pyongyang has test-fired around 100 missiles, including intercontinental ballistic missiles that showed the potential of reaching the U.S. mainland and a variety of other shorter-range weapons that threaten South Korea and Japan. Hayashi “expressed grave concern over North Korea’s launch of ballistic missiles with an unprecedented frequency and in unprecedented manners, including the launch in the previous week, and the G-7 Foreign Ministers strongly condemned North Korea’s repeated launches of ballistic missiles,” according to the summary.
French President Emmanuel Macron has defended his recent remarks regarding Taiwan, in which he stated that France should not become involved in an escalation between the United States and China. He made the remarks during a weekend interview following his three-day state visit to China, reports BBC. Being a US ally did not mean being a “vassal”, he also said. Politicians and other public figures on both sides of the Atlantic have criticized his statements.However, on a visit to the Netherlands on Wednesday, he stated that he stood by his views, said the report. Read More: China military displays force toward Taiwan after Tsai trip “Being an ally does not mean being a vassal... doesn’t mean that we don’t have the right to think for ourselves,” Macron told a press conference in the Netherlands. Macron also stated that France’s support for the “status quo” in Taiwan had not altered and that Paris “supports the One China policy and the search for a peaceful resolution to the situation.” Meanwhile, the White House has downplayed the statements, saying the Biden administration is “comfortable and confident in the terrific bilateral relationship we have with France.” Taiwan’s foreign ministry took a similar approach but stated that it “noted” Macron’s remarks.A top Taiwanese official, on the other hand, was “puzzled” by the comments. Read More: China's military announces 'combat readiness patrols' around Taiwan “Are ‘liberté, égalité, fraternité’ out of fashion?” – wrote Taiwan’s parliament speaker You Si-kun on social media, referring to France’s motto. According to some analysts, Macron’s remarks signal that the US is equally to blame for the escalating tensions over Taiwan, making it more difficult for the EU to take a tougher stance with Beijing. Meanwhile, China has appreciated Macron’s statements and stated that it is not surprised by the criticism, added the report. “Some countries do not want to see other nations become independent and self-reliant, and instead always want to coerce other countries into obeying their will,” China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said. Read More: Australia won’t promise to side with US in Taiwan conflict Taiwan, with its own constitution and democratically chosen leaders, sees itself as different from the Chinese mainland. However, Beijing regards Taiwan as a breakaway province that will inevitably fall under Chinese rule and has never renounced the use of force to achieve this. While the United States diplomatically recognizes China’s view that there is only one Chinese government, President Joe Biden has pledged to engage militarily to support Taiwan if it is attacked, the report said. Beijing began practising the encirclement of Taiwan earlier this week during days of military manoeuvres regarded as retaliation to the recent meeting between Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen and US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Read More: Anger spreads in France over Macron's retirement bill push President Tsai said on Saturday that her administration will continue to collaborate with the US and other democracies while the island faces “continued authoritarian expansionism” from China.
China’s military sent several dozen warplanes and 11 warships toward Taiwan in a display of force following its president’s trip to the U.S., the island's Defense Ministry said Monday. The Chinese military earlier had announced three-day “combat readiness patrols” as a warning to Taiwan, a self-ruled island which China claims as its own. The actions follow President Tsai Ing-wen’s delicate diplomatic mission to shore up Taiwan's dwindling alliances in Central America and boost U.S. support, a trip capped with a sensitive meeting with U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California. A U.S. congressional delegation also met with Tsai over the weekend in Taiwan after she returned. China responded to the McCarthy meeting by imposing a travel ban and financial sanctions against those associated with Tsai’s U.S. trip and with increased military activity. Between 6 a.m. Sunday and 6 a.m. Monday, a total of 70 planes were detected and half crossed the median of the Taiwan Strait, an unofficial boundary once tacitly accepted by both sides, according to Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense. Among the planes that crossed the median were 8 J-16 fighter jets, 4 J-1 fighters, 8 Su-30 fighters and reconnaissance planes. That followed a full day between Friday and Saturday, where eight warships and 71 planes were detected near Taiwan, according to the island's Defense Ministry. The ministry said in a statement it was approaching the situation from the perspective of “not escalating conflict, and not causing disputes.” Taiwan said it monitored the Chinese moves through its land-based missile systems, as well as on its own navy vessels. In addition to combat readiness patrols, China's People's Liberation Army would hold “live fire training” in Luoyuan Bay in China's Fujian province opposite Taiwan, the local Maritime Authority announced over the weekend. China’s military harassment of Taiwan has intensified in recent years with planes or ships sent toward the island on a near-daily basis, with the numbers rising in reaction to sensitive activities. Taiwan split with China in 1949 after a civil war. China's ruling Communist Party says the island is obliged to rejoin the mainland, by force if necessary. Beijing says contact with foreign officials encourages Taiwanese who want formal independence, a step the ruling party says would lead to war.
he Chinese military announced exercises around Taiwan on Saturday in a new act of retaliation for a meeting between the U.S. House of Representatives speaker and the president of the self-ruled island democracy claimed by Beijing as part of its territory. The People’s Liberation Army said the three-day “combat readiness patrols” were a warning to Taiwanese who want to make the island’s de facto independence permanent. It gave no indication whether they might include a repeat of previous exercises that included firing missiles into the sea, which disrupted shipping and airline flights. Speaker Kevin McCarthy held talks with President Tsai Ing-wen on Thursday in California, adding to a series of foreign lawmakers who have met Tsai to show support in the face of Chinese intimidation. Beijing responded Friday by imposing a travel ban and financial sanctions against American groups and individuals associated with Tsai’s U.S. visit. Taiwan split with China after a civil war in 1949. The ruling Communist Party says the island is obliged to rejoin the mainland, by force if necessary. Beijing says contact with foreign officials encourages Taiwanese who want formal independence, a step the ruling party says would lead to war. “This is a serious warning against the collusion and provocation between the ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist forces and external forces,” said a PLA statement. The “Joint Sword” exercises are a “necessary action to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity.” Chinese President Xi Jinping's government has stepped up efforts to intimidate the island by flying fighter jets and bombers nearby and firing missiles into the sea. The United States has no official relations with Taiwan's government but maintains extensive informal and commercial ties. Washington is required by federal law to ensure the island of 22 million people has the means to defend itself if China attacks. “We will never leave room for ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist activities in any form and will definitely take resolute measures to defeat any foreign interference,” said a spokesperson for the Cabinet’s Taiwan Affairs Office, Zhu Fenglian, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. “Complete reunification of our country must be realized, and it can, without doubt, be realized,” Zhu was quoted as saying Friday.
The Australian defense minister says his country has made no promises to the United States that Australia would support its ally in any future conflict over Taiwan in exchange for American nuclear-powered submarines. U.S. President Joe Biden and the leaders of Australia and the United Kingdom announced in San Diego last week that Australia would purchase nuclear-powered attack submarines from the U.S. to modernize its fleet amid growing concern about China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific. Australian critics of the deal argue that the United States would not hand over as many as five of its Virginia-class submarines without assurances that they would be made available in the event of a conflict with China over Taiwan. Beijing says the self-ruled island democracy, which split with China in 1949 after a civil war, is obliged to unite with the mainland, by force if necessary. Also Read: Chinese ships cut internet of Taiwan's outlying islands But Defense Minister Richard Marles said his government had given the United States no assurances over Taiwan. “Absolutely not, and I couldn’t be more unequivocal than that,” Marles told Australian Broadcasting Corp. ’s “Insiders” news program on Sunday. Also Read: US approves selling Taiwan munitions worth $619 million “I want to make it really clear that the moment that there is a flag on the first of those Virginia-class submarines in the early 2030s is the moment that that submarine will be under the complete control of the Australian government of the day and again, no one would have expected that to be any different. I mean, that is obviously the basis upon which this is happening,” he added. Australia, like the United States, has a policy of “strategic ambiguity" in refusing to say how it would react to a Chinese attack on Taiwan. Australia and the U.S. have also shared a bilateral defense treaty since 1951 that obliges them to consult if either comes under attack but does not commit them to the other's defense. Former Australian Prime Ministers Paul Keating and Malcolm Turnbull are among the critics who question how Australia could maintain its sovereignty with such heavy reliance on U.S. technology and military personnel under the submarine deal. The AUKUS deal — named after Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States — provoked an angry reaction from China, which accused Australia of going down a “path of error and danger." Marles said while the submarines could be used in the case of a conflict, the main intention was for them to protect vital trade routes through the South China Sea and contribute to regional stability. “Nuclear-powered submarines have obviously the capacity to operate in the context of war, but the primary intent here is to make our contribution to the stability of the region,” Marles said.