The United States wants to deepen its relationship with Taiwan and will work to counter Beijing’s “malign” influence, a U.S. diplomat said Friday.
In her first public news conference, Sandra Oudkirk, the new director of the American Institute in Taiwan, the de facto U.S. embassy, reiterated that the United States remains deeply committed to Taiwan and is actively working on new areas of cooperation such as in cybersecurity and supply chains.
“The value of our partnership and our support for Taiwan is rock solid,” Oudkirk said. “We are committed to deepening our ties with Taiwan.”
The U.S. support for Taiwan comes as tensions between Beijing and the island are now at the highest in decades, with the Chinese regime stepping up its military harassment by flying fighter jets toward Taiwan. The communist regime claims the self-ruled island as its own and has never renounced the use of force to seize Taiwan.
Though the United States ended its diplomatic ties with Taiwan in favor of Beijing in 1979, it has continued to maintain a strong unofficial relationship with the self-ruled island.
Oudkirk declined to comment on any security initiatives or give any details about the presence of U.S. troops on the island, after Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen confirmed Thursday that U.S. boots were indeed on the ground, though less than what people would think.
“We are going to continue to advance global and regional goals of the Biden administration, including countering malign PRC influence, recovering from the devastating impacts of the pandemic and addressing the threat of climate change,” Oudkirk said, referring to the People’s Republic of China, the regime’s official name.
Washington has supported Taiwan with arms sales to boost the island’s ability to defend itself, and also routinely navigates the waters around the island in what it calls freedom of operation movements.
Oudkirk, who became director over the summer, also reaffirmed that the United States will support Taiwan in its role on the international stage, without giving details.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday called on other members of the United Nations to support Taipei’s independent participation in international organizations related to transportation, health, climate change, culture, and education. Taiwan, for example, is not a member of the World Health Organization.
Beijing has already slammed Blinken’s statement. On Friday, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said Beijing has the “sole” right representing the self-governed island internationally—a claim denounced by Taiwan.
The Chinese regime has aggressively sought to exclude Taiwan’s participation from international bodies. Since 2017, Beijing has barred Taiwan from participating as an observer in the World Health Organization’s decision-making body, the World Health Assembly.
During the two World Health Assembly sessions held in May and November 2020, exhortations for the WHO to welcome Taiwan into its fold came from leaders and high-level government officials of numerous countries, including the United States, Japan, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Denmark, Netherlands, and Sweden, as well as more than 1,700 parliamentarians.
A major new focus of the U.S.–Taiwan relationship is on supply chains amid the global crunch on computer chips known as semiconductors.
Taiwan is home to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Inc., or TSMC, the biggest contract manufacturer of processor chips in the world. Those chips are used in everything from smartphones and medical equipment to gaming computers.
In recent weeks, local media reported that Taiwanese companies are concerned about a request for information from the U.S. Department of Commerce to chipmakers on potentially sensitive information such as their inventory, production, and their top customers. TSMC, for example, serves clients in China as well as across the world.
“I have stressed that the Department of Commerce’s recent request for information is just that, it is a request,” Oudkirk said in response to those concerns, saying it is voluntary.
The Epoch Times staff contributed to this report.