Shortly before speaking by phone with China’s Xi Jinping, U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday signed a law passed by Congress which aims to strengthen Taiwan’s alliances amid increased pressure from the communist on the mainland.
Even amid the coronavirus outbreak, China in recent weeks has reportedly stepped up its military drills around Taiwan. China has also blocked Taiwan from participating in bodies like the World Health Organization (WHO).
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen posted a picture on her Twitter page of Taiwan’s flag fluttering next to the U.S. one under the words “Friends in freedom, partners in prosperity”, to welcome Trump’s signing of the law, Reuters reported.
It was “a testament to Taiwan-U.S. friendship & mutual support as we work together to address global threats to human health & our shared democratic values”, Tsai wrote in English.
The United States, like most countries, has no official relations with Taiwan, but the Trump administration has increased official backing for Taipei with arms sales and laws to help Taiwan deal with pressure from China.
The Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative (TAIPEI) Act requires the U.S. State Department to report to Congress on steps taken to strengthen diplomatic relations with the island nation.
Under the TAIPEI Act, the U.S. will consider reducing its economic, security and diplomatic engagement with nations that take significant actions to undermine Taiwan.
China’s Foreign Ministry called the law a “severe violation of the one-China principle.”
China considers Taiwan part of its territory with no rights of an independent state.
“We urge the United States to correct its mistakes, not implement the law, or obstruct the development of relations between other countries and China, otherwise it will inevitably encounter a resolute strike back by China,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said.
China for years has also been “poaching the dwindling number of countries that maintain formal ties with Taipei,” the Reuters report said. Taiwan now only has diplomatic relations with 15 countries, almost all small and developing nations like Nauru, Belize and Honduras.
The TAIPEI Act – written by Sens. Cory Gardner, Colorado Republican, and Chris Coons, Delaware Democrat, says the U.S. should back Taiwan as it reaches out to potential allies around the world amid what the senators said were “bullying tactics” by Beijing.
“The United States should use every tool to support Taiwan’s standing on the international stage,” Gardner said in a joint announcement with Coons. “This bipartisan legislation demands a whole-of-government approach to ramp up our support for Taiwan, and will send a strong message to nations that there will be consequences for supporting Chinese actions that undermine Taiwan.”
“I’m pleased the President signed this bill into law,” said Coons. “The TAIPEI Act sends a clear message that the United States stands with Taiwan’s free-market democracy. I look forward to finding additional ways to support the positive role Taiwan plays in international affairs.”