Singapore: US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin stressed American support for Taiwan on Saturday, suggesting at Asia’s premier defence forum that recent Chinese military activity around the self-governing island threatens to change the status quo.
Speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, Austin noted a steady increase in provocative and destabilising military activity near Taiwan, including almost daily military flights near the island by the People’s Republic of China.
Our policy hasn’t changed, but unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be true for the PRC, he said.
Austin said Washington remains committed to the one-China policy, which recognises Beijing but allows informal relations and defence ties with Taipei.
Taiwan and China split during a civil war in 1949, but China claims the island as its own territory and has not ruled out using military force to take it.
China has stepped up its military provocations against democratic Taiwan in recent years, aimed at intimidating it into accepting Beijing’s demands to unify with the communist mainland.
We remain focused on maintaining peace, stability and the status quo across the Taiwan Strait, Austin said in his address. But the PRC’s moves threaten to undermine security, and stability, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific.
He drew a parallel with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, saying that the indefensible assault on a peaceful neighbour has galvanised the world and … has reminded us all of the dangers of undercutting an international order rooted in rules and respect.
Austin said that the rules-based international order matters just as much in the Indo-Pacific as it does in Europe.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is what happens when oppressors trample the rules that protect us all, he said. It’s what happens when big powers decide that their imperial appetites matter more than the rights of their peaceful neighbours. And it’s a preview of a possible world of chaos and turmoil that none of us would want to live in. —Agencies