By Minister Jaushieh Joseph Wu
In the past few days, China has conducted large-scale joint military exercises around Taiwan, gravely threatening regional peace and security. I want to take this opportunity to convey Taiwan’s position.
China’s decision to carry out military exercises in areas surrounding Taiwan is a gross violation of Taiwan’s rights under international law, particularly in the way it designated the zones for its exercises. Furthermore, it has hindered the normal operations of one of the busiest air and shipping routes in the Indo-Pacific region. This has had a serious impact on international transportation and trade, and undermined regional peace and security. Taiwan thus strongly condemns China’s extremely irresponsible behavior.
China’s targeted, large-scaled military exercises are a serious provocation. China has used Speaker Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan as a pretext, but is pursuing its true intentions in a number of ways.
Firstly, China has threatened Taiwan militarily for years, and it continues to upgrade its efforts. This is a fact. China has openly declared its ownership over the Taiwan Strait. It aims to influence the international community’s freedom of navigation in the waters and airspace of the Taiwan Strait by denying the status quo that it is an international waterway. On this occasion, China has also taken specific actions to break the long-standing tacit agreement on the median line of the Taiwan Strait. And after the drills conclude, China may try to routinize its action in an attempt to wreck the long-term status quo across the Taiwan Strait.
Secondly, China has used the drills in its military playbook to prepare for the invasion of Taiwan. It is conducting large-scale military exercises and missile launches, as well as cyberattacks, disinformation, and economic coercion, in an attempt to weaken public morale in Taiwan.
Thirdly, in terms of the range of its missile tests, China is clearly trying to deter other countries from interfering in its attempt to invade Taiwan. Its rehearsal of anti-access and area-denial (A2/AD) tactics gives us a clear image of China’s geostrategic ambitions beyond Taiwan. In other words, China’s real intention behind these military exercises is to alter the status quo in the Taiwan Strait and the entire region. This has already brought significantly unstable elements into the mix, threatening regional security.
Taiwan certainly has the right to maintain relationships with other countries and to participate in and contribute to the international community. The people of Taiwan also have the right to express their collective will through a democratic system. China has no right to interfere in or alter this.
The government of Taiwan has consistently upheld its four commitments – namely, a commitment to a free and democratic constitutional system; a commitment that the ROC(Taiwan) and the PRC are separate jurisdictions, with neither subordinate to the other; a commitment to resist annexation or encroachment upon our sovereignty; and a commitment that the future of Taiwan must be decided in accordance with the will of the Taiwanese people.
Taiwan is grateful to all of its friends around the world who have stood up courageously to condemn China’s actions and support of Taiwan. The support of so many nations lets Taiwan people know that we are not alone. It also sends a message to the world that democracy will not bow to the intimidation of authoritarianism.
Although China seems to be targeting Taiwan now, its activities around the world have shown that its motivation is far beyond Taiwan. China is now determined to link the East and South China Seas through the Taiwan Strait so that this entire area becomes its internal waters. And its intentions are not likely to stop there, as the PLA has crossed the first island chain multiple times to conduct military exercises in recent years. In addition, in May this year, China signed a security agreement with the Solomon Islands, and intended to do the same with more Pacific countries. China’s influence also extends into Southeast Asia, South Asia, and even Africa and Latin America. China’s behavior towards Taiwan is merely a pretext. Its ambitions and impact is extending far beyond Taiwan. It is thus critical that all freedom-loving nations work together to explore means to respond to the expansion of authoritarianism.
In facing China’s joint military exercises, Taiwan’s people, society, military and government have displayed resilience and confidence and remained calm. China’s continued attempts to intimidate Taiwan will not panic us, nor will they defeat us. To Taiwan, the values of freedom and democracy cannot be taken away; they are built into our DNA. Taiwan will continue to staunchly uphold its free and democratic way of life. Acting upon its beliefs with the same determination, Taiwan will continue to defend its sovereignty, its freedom, democracy, and prosperity. We also hope that the international community will support Taiwan in unison and put a stop to China’s irresponsible threats and ambitious expansion, and jointly safeguard a free and open, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific.