Taiwan not pursuing formal ties with US: Foreign minister

While US-Taiwan relations keep warming, official ties not on table

  3406
Taiwanese and American flags (Getty Images photo)

Taiwanese and American flags (Getty Images photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan has no intention of forging formal diplomatic ties with the United States for the time being, but it is intent on advancing bilateral cooperation, according to Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮).

In a Skype interview with NPR on Sunday (Sept. 20), Wu ruled out full diplomatic relations with the U.S. However, he stressed that Taiwan wishes to further expand ties in the areas of trade, security, and politics.

Bilateral relations have warmed over the past months, peaking with the unprecedented visits of two top American officials. Health Secretary Alex Azar and Under Secretary of State Keith Krach, who traveled to Taiwan in August and September, respectively, were the highest-ranking U.S. officials ever received by the country since Washington switched diplomatic ties to China in 1979.

This cozying up has agitated China, which has responded by ratcheting up military maneuvers in waters off Taiwan, including by sending warplanes across the median line dividing the Taiwan Strait. Wu said the increased activity is alarming, as the median line serves to “maintain peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and China has been violating that status quo,” according to NPR.

Wu believes China will step up its aggression toward Taiwan because of domestic troubles. He said it’s crucial that Taiwan stay vigilant in case Beijing treats it as a scapegoat and decides to resort to military force.

While the U.S. is bound by law to help Taiwan defend itself through arms sales, which have included fighter jets and other weapon systems, Wu stated that Taiwan will not rely on Washington to intervene in the event of a cross-strait conflict. “Taiwan’s defense is our own risk,” he said, adding that the country will increase its preparedness for any future scenario.