US stands by Taiwan in defense of freedoms: Mike Pence

US vice president reiterates support for Taiwan in major China policy speech

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U.S. Vice President Mike Pence addresses Wilson Center on Oct. 24. (AP photo)

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence addresses Wilson Center on Oct. 24. (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Retaining a harsh tone against Beijing in a speech on China policy similar to the one he made a year ago, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday (Oct. 24) expressed concern over the Chinese government’s pressure on Taiwan, adding that the U.S. stands by the island nation in defense of freedom and democracy.

In a major policy speech at the Washington-based Wilson Center, Pence said the U.S. does not seek to contain China’s development and desires instead to build a constructive relationship with Chinese leaders. Nevertheless, he unreservedly touched on issues known to sting Beijing, expressing support for Hong Kong’s anti-government protests and Taiwan’s defiance of China.

The vice president blasted China for poaching Taiwan’s allies through “checkbook diplomacy,” which he says threatens Taiwanese democracy. He went on to encourage the international community to engage with the island nation, as “it protects peace on Taiwan and throughout the region.”

“Under this administration, we’ve authorized additional military sales and recognized Taiwan’s place as one of the world’s great trading economies and beacons of Chinese culture and democracy,” said Pence. “We’ve stood by Taiwan in defense of her hard-won freedoms,” he added.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its appreciation for the U.S.’s support via a statement on Friday. It vowed to continue collaborating with the U.S. and other nations sharing similar values in spite of Beijing’s multifaceted suppression schemes and to do its part to ensure regional peace and stability.

In his speech, Pence also criticized China for “curtail[ing] the rights and liberties” of Hong Kong’s people. He urged Beijing to uphold its obligations under the Sino-British Joint Declaration, the international treaty signed with the U.K. before the 1997 handover.

“The United States will continue to urge China to show restraint, to honor its commitments, and respect the people of Hong Kong,” said Pence. He cautioned that the use of violence by Hong Kong authorities against protestors could hinder the progress of trade negotiations between the U.S. and China.