Taiwan must invest in building its own strengths, vice president-elect says

Taiwan must invest in building its own strengths, vice president-elect says
Taiwan must invest in building its own strengths, vice president-elect says

TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan is grateful for continued US security assistance but must invest in building its own “strengths” first and show the world its support for the island is worth it, Vice President-elect Hsiao Bi-khim said on Monday.

Hsiao, who takes office with President-elect Lai Ching-te on May 20, is Taiwan’s former de facto ambassador to Washington, and is expected to play a key role in further strengthening ties with the United States given her fluent English and deep ties in the US capital.

The United States is Chinese-claimed Taiwan’s most important supporter and arms supplier, despite the lack of diplomatic ties.

Speaking to a think-tank forum, Hsiao expressed appreciation for US President Joe Biden last month signing into law legislation to boost Taiwan’s defenses, part of a broader package of assistance for Ukraine and Israel.

“This bill demonstrates the US’ continuing commitment to supporting allies and partners in the face of geopolitical challenges,” she said.

“But beyond thanking our international friends for their support, it is important that as Taiwanese we invest in building our own strengths first,” she said.

“Through our own efforts in building a resilient Taiwan, we must have the confidence that Taiwan is worthy of galvanizing international support.”

China has ramped up its military pressure against Taiwan over the past four years. Taiwan’s government rejects Beijing’s sovereignty claims.

Hsiao and Lai – who have pledged to continue President Tsai Ing-wen’s defense self-sufficiency and modernization program – take power just months before the US presidential election in November.

Former President Donald Trumpwhose administration strongly supported Taiwan and is the presumptive Republican candidate this time round, has said US allies like European members of NATO have to spend more on defense and not just rely on the United States shouldering the burden.

Trump has also been critical of US support for Ukraine following its invasion by Russia.

In the audience for Hsiao’s speech was James Gilmore, Trump’s ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, who is backing Trump’s election campaign.

Before Hsiao arrived, Gilmore told the forum, run by Taiwanese think-tank Center for Asia-Pacific Resilience and Innovation, that there was a “deliberate effort to inject fear” about Trump among US allies.

“That bill probably could have been stopped,” he said, referring last month’s security assistance package.

But Trump backed US House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson, who wanted the bill passed despite objections from some Republican lawmakers, Gilmore added.

“That would not have happened if we had a potential president there that was going to be a problem for our allies and for the rest of the world.”

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Michael Perry)

The article is in Dutch

Tags: Taiwan invest building strengths vice presidentelect


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