A U.S. official on Wednesday expressed concern over reports the Solomon Islands is considering a shift in diplomatic ties from Taiwan to China, saying that maintaining diplomatic partners is one way for Taiwan to ensure it is not isolated from the international community and ensure peace and stability in the region.
Amid rumors that the Solomon Islands, a diplomatic ally of 36 years standing, could severe ties with Taiwan, David Helvey, the principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, made the comments at the conclusion of a forum held by the Global Taiwan Institute (GTI), a think tank based in the United States that focuses on Taiwan affairs.
Taiwan being able to maintain diplomatic partners is an important part of its ability to contribute to the broader regional peace, Helvey said.
Diplomatic partners also ensure Taiwan is not isolated, he said, adding that the potential Solomon Islands' diplomatic switch reflects China's increasing ambitions and efforts to squeeze Taiwan's international space.
Helvey also said that the Chinese Communist Party under Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) is challenging the rules-based order and working to shape the world order in ways that favor its authoritarian governing model.
Xi's Jan. 2 speech that threatened military force against Taiwan only further damaged cross-strati relations and heightened regional instability, he said.
However, this only increases the importance of U.S. defense engagements with Taiwan, according to Helvey.
Taiwan plays an indispensable role in curbing Chinese aggression and maintaining regional pace and stability and the U.S. will continue to provide weapons of a self defense nature for Taiwan to defend itself, Helvey added.
Commenting on the Solomon Islands' potential diplomatic shift, Michael Green, senior vice president for Asia and Japan Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), and a former White House official, said it would hurt not only Taiwan but also Australia, New Zealand and the United States.
This is because Beijing's strategy in the Pacific islands is designed to damage especially Australian, U.S., Japanese and French interests and because Beijing is adopting a new approach in the Pacific to enhance its military and geopolitical interests.