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Foreign minister: Taiwan vulnerable without US

Taiwan Foreign Minister Joesph Wu tells CNN's Matt Rivers that without continuing US military support, Taiwan would be vulnerable to an armed takeover from Beijing.

Posted: Jul 23, 2018 9:07 PM
Updated: Jul 23, 2018 9:14 PM

Without continuing US military support, Taiwan would be vulnerable to an armed takeover from Beijing, the island's foreign minister told CNN in an exclusive interview.

Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu told CNN the Taiwan government felt relations with the United States had grown stronger in recent years, but it was vital for Washington to continue to support Taipei militarily and diplomatically.

"(If) the Chinese see vulnerability of Taiwan not getting US support, then they would be thinking about starting scenarios where they would be able to take Taiwan over," he said.

Despite Taiwan being self-governed for almost seventy years, the mainland Chinese government continues to view the island as an integral part of its territory.

Beijing has been ramping up pressure on the Taiwan government since President Tsai Ing-wen's Democratic Progressive Party, which traditionally favored independence, took power in 2016.

The Chinese navy has been conducting the latest in a series of live-fire military drills in the Taiwan Strait from Wednesday until Monday, which an expert quoted in state media tabloid Global Times said was "tailored for Taiwan separatists."

Wu said the live-fire drills were part of a campaign to "intimidate the Taiwanese people."

"We are trying to maximize our cooperation with like-minded countries, try to engage security cooperation with the US to prevent China from thinking that they can take Taiwan over just overnight," he said.

Beijing provoking 'hatred'

Beijing has long dreamed of reuniting Taiwan with the Chinese mainland. In a nationalistic speech in March, President Xi Jinping described unification as "the aspiration of all Chinese people," while during a visit by US Secretary of Defense James Mattis in June, Xi said China would not give up "any inch of territory."

But Wu said China's actions against Taiwan were undermining any support for Xi's reunification efforts and turning public opinion against Beijing.

"They say they want to win the hearts and minds of Taiwanese people but what they're doing ... is to create hatred among the regular Taiwanese people of the Chinese government. It is pushing Taiwan further and further away," he said.

Early in the Trump administration there were questions over whether Taiwan would be used as a pawn between Washington and Beijing, given the latter's keen interest in returning the island to the fold.

But more than a year-and-a-half later, Wu said Taiwan is pleased with the growing closeness of Taiwan US relations under the Trump administration.

"President Trump maintains very good relations with Taiwan ... they told us that they believe Taiwan is not tradeable, and democracy is not tradeable," he said.

Asked whether President Tsai, leading the traditionally pro-independence DPP party, would push for Taiwan independence, Wu said Tsai was determined to maintain "the status quo" with its mainland neighbor.

"We want to maintain peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait ... By itself, Taiwan exists outside China, Taiwan exists by itself, so there's no need for Taiwan to go beyond what it is right now," he said.

Diplomatic battle

As part of their campaign of pressure, the Chinese government has been slowly chipping away at Taiwan's small number of remaining diplomatic allies around the world. In May, both the Dominican Republic and Burkina Faso severed ties with Taipei in exchange for Beijing.

But despite their dwindling number of allies globally, Wu insists the Taiwan government is not preparing for a time when they no longer have any diplomatic partners.

"Some countries (who switched) are coming back to us and saying they didn't get what China promised, they didn't get what China promised financially and they're not getting what China promised politically," he said.

"What China gave them is something which is easily destroyable."

The most symbolic country which still recognizes Taipei over Beijing is the Vatican, the tiny nation home to the leadership of the Catholic Church.

In the past six months, rumors have leaked out suggesting the Holy See might be considering switching its allegiance to the Beijing government but Wu said Taiwan still hoped the Vatican could remain their diplomatic partner for the long term.

"We stay in very close contact with Vatican officials, telling them what they want is to allow freedom of religion to prevail in mainland China, and Taiwan has been serving as a beacon in that aspect," he said.

"Therefore maintaining good relations with Taiwan is the key to have Taiwan as an example to the Chinese people, especially Chinese Catholics, that they can have freedom of religion one day."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 701971

Reported Deaths: 13187
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion958051716
Lake51105939
Allen38867670
Hamilton34212404
St. Joseph33638539
Elkhart27021431
Vanderburgh22016393
Tippecanoe21602212
Johnson17408373
Porter17157297
Hendricks16711310
Clark12640190
Madison12287337
Vigo12139244
Monroe11336166
LaPorte10760204
Delaware10288184
Howard9606211
Kosciusko9051113
Hancock7922139
Bartholomew7839153
Warrick7671155
Floyd7533176
Wayne6871198
Grant6755168
Boone6517100
Morgan6362138
Dubois6068117
Marshall5743108
Dearborn566975
Cass5668102
Henry5558100
Noble536983
Jackson491869
Shelby476895
Lawrence4324118
Gibson426889
Harrison426070
Montgomery416286
Clinton415053
DeKalb405483
Huntington376480
Whitley374939
Miami371365
Knox364889
Steuben361357
Putnam351760
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Ripley333268
Jefferson310779
White307154
Daviess288699
Wells284780
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Fayette276962
Greene269985
Posey268133
Scott259853
Clay252044
LaGrange250970
Randolph234380
Washington230329
Spencer227431
Jennings224447
Fountain207445
Sullivan207342
Starke201152
Owen191456
Fulton190439
Jay185529
Carroll185220
Perry179136
Orange176253
Rush170224
Vermillion165643
Franklin165135
Tipton160843
Parke143716
Blackford132631
Pike130034
Pulaski112945
Newton102834
Brown99340
Crawford96914
Benton95613
Martin82215
Warren78715
Switzerland7698
Union69510
Ohio55511
Unassigned0405

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1045945

Reported Deaths: 18917
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1214131352
Cuyahoga1060882061
Hamilton778281165
Montgomery49815988
Summit45000907
Lucas39675760
Butler37582568
Stark31296894
Lorain24038472
Warren23805291
Mahoning20777583
Lake19885362
Clermont19387228
Delaware17933130
Licking16066206
Fairfield15618196
Trumbull15500459
Medina14787259
Greene14593236
Clark13542288
Wood12664184
Portage12277194
Allen11281229
Richland11001198
Miami10500212
Muskingum8676127
Wayne8523209
Columbiana8515226
Pickaway8414120
Tuscarawas8347239
Marion8342135
Erie7509153
Ross6687145
Hancock6666123
Geauga6520146
Ashtabula6436164
Scioto6271100
Belmont5578158
Union555147
Lawrence5454102
Jefferson5271147
Huron5265113
Darke5256121
Sandusky5158119
Seneca5084118
Washington5056107
Athens497454
Auglaize473984
Mercer470084
Shelby454689
Knox4363108
Madison420458
Putnam419398
Ashland411586
Fulton406266
Defiance399496
Brown384855
Crawford3848100
Logan371976
Preble369298
Clinton359359
Ottawa354278
Highland345759
Williams321674
Champaign317856
Jackson306151
Guernsey305348
Perry289249
Fayette276748
Morrow274139
Henry262866
Hardin262663
Coshocton257857
Holmes252399
Van Wert238562
Gallia232946
Pike232331
Adams227152
Wyandot225553
Hocking208458
Carroll188547
Paulding168238
Meigs141138
Noble132537
Monroe128741
Morgan106423
Harrison104936
Vinton81314
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