Taiwan’s Tsai has ‘faith’ in US help amid new China ‘intrusions’

Taipei’s defence ministry registers a total of 680 incursions in 2021, including three on Wednesday, as diplomatic rhetoric heats up.

Taiwan's president Tsai Ing-wen confirmed for the first time on Wednesday that US troops were training Taiwanese forces on the island [File: Tyrone Siu/Reuters]

Taiwan’s president has said she has “faith” the United States would defend the island against a Chinese attack, as Beijing and Washington trade barbs over Taipei’s place on the global stage.

President Tsai Ing-wen was asked in an interview with CNN if she was confident that the US would defend Taiwan.

Tsai replied: “I do have faith.”

She highlighted the “wide range of cooperation with the US aiming at increasing our defence capability,” including the US military training of Taiwanese forces, an initiative first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Tsai’s comments came after Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defence reported that three more Chinese military planes crossed into its air defence identification zone (ADIZ) for the fourth consecutive day on Wednesday – the 17th “intrusion” during October.

Two People’s Liberation Army Shenyang J-11 fighters and one Shaanxi Y-8 anti-submarine warfare plane reportedly flew into the southwestern corner of the ADIZ, the statement said.

Taiwan dispatched an aircraft in addition to broadcasting radio warnings and deploying air defence missile systems, the defence ministry said.

In all, Taiwan registered a total of 680 incursions in 2021 as of Wednesday, the ministry said.

US President Joe Biden, speaking at a virtual summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) attended by China’s premier, this week rebuked Beijing over its actions near Taiwan.

The two world powers had already faced off over Taiwan’s involvement with the United Nations, with Washington saying the island should be better integrated into the world body for “pragmatic” purposes – and Beijing saying it has no right to join. Taiwan left the UN in October 1971 after the world body voted to recognise the People’s Republic of China rather than the government in Taipei under Chiang Kai-shek.

Diplomatic rhetoric

The latest statements by Beijing, Washington and Taipei add to an escalation of diplomatic rhetoric and military posturing over the self-governing island of 23 million people.

China considers Taiwan – where nationalist forces fled in 1949 after losing a civil war to the communists – part of its territory and has not ruled out the use of force to take control of the island.

On Wednesday, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) was reported as calling Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu of being a “diehard Taiwan independence” advocate.

TAO Spokesperson Ma Xiaoguang said Wu cannot change the “undeniable fact that Taiwan is a part of China”.


Wu, who was in Austria as part of a European tour on Wednesday, meanwhile said that Taiwan is “constantly facing the onslaught of authoritarianism”.

“Our authoritarian neighbour claims that Taiwan is a part of it and has to be taken back, by force if necessary,” he was quoted by Taiwan’s Central News Agency as saying.

At the ASEAN summit, Biden said the United States was “deeply concerned by China’s coercive and proactive actions… across the Taiwan Strait.”

Such actions “threaten regional peace and stability,” Biden told the closed-door session, according to a recording of his remarks obtained by Agence France-Presse news agency.

Biden last week told a televised forum that the United States was ready to defend Taiwan from any Chinese invasion.

Those comments were quickly clarified by the White House, with the US stressing it continued to follow a policy of “strategic ambiguity” over Taiwan.

Tsai told CNN that despite China’s aggressive posturing, she was willing to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping to “reduce misunderstanding” and address the differences in their political systems.

“We can sit down and talk about our differences, and try to make arrangements so that we will be able to co-exist peacefully,” she said.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies