TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Analysts say peace and security in the Taiwan Strait have become bigger priorities on Washington's agenda, elevating Taiwan from being an "invisible teammate" into a "close teammate," due to the mounting military threat from Beijing.
In a recent feature run by VOA, political experts said the steady expansion of U.S.-Taiwan engagement was demonstrated by increasing defense cooperation and economic ties, which signifies two things: First, there is a change in the interpretation of the status quo in the Taiwan Strait; second, it is clear that Taiwan has become a close teammate for the U.S. in its Indo-Pacific strategy.
Tan Jing-yuan (唐靖遠), a China affairs specialists and a senior commentator for NTDTV, said Washington has taken a more proactive role in helping Taiwan enhance its deterrence capabilities, in response to the growing threat from Beijing. However, he added this does not mean Washington is giving up its "one China policy" or has altered its stance on the status quo across the Taiwan Strait.
"The notion of the status quo across the Strait has moved from being relatively static to relatively dynamic, meaning Washington is today responding more quickly, decisively, and sometimes strongly, to the growing threat from Beijing, rather than being less confrontational like it used to be," said Tan.
Taiwan, in return, is taking a tougher stance toward Beijing, said Yang Sen-hong (楊憲宏), who heads the Taiwan Association for China Human Rights. This can be observed from events such as President Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) statement on Sept. 14 that Taiwan will strengthen its deterrence capabilities instead of depending on allies, plus the participation of Taiwan's top diplomats and security officials in defense and security meetings with top American officials.
"It's worth mentioning that recent high-level meetings between Taiwan and the U.S. have been made known to the public by Washington rather than staying low profile. Monterey Talks, Defense Review Talks, Political and Military Dialogue are good examples of these high-profile meetings," Yang added.
"Given Taiwan's geopolitical importance in the Asia-Pacific region, Washington knows that losing Taiwan as an ally could adversely affect its strategic interests in the region running between the East China Sea and South China Sea that accounts for 35% to 40% of global GDP."
Yang described the change as a sign that Taiwan has been elevated from the invisible teammate it was for decades, to a close teammate today. This means Taiwan needs to be protected, given the constant intrusions into Taiwan's air defense identification zone (ADIZ) by China's military.