TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The U.S. has always lauded Taiwan as a democratic leader and will continue to call on regional allies to deepen ties with it, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink said Monday (April 25).
Having just wrapped up a trip to the South Pacific, Kritenbrink said Taiwan remains a strong partner to many Pacific Island nations, including the Marshall Islands, Palau, Nauru, and Tuvalu, the Liberty Times reported. The U.S. has emphasized that Taiwan is a democratic leader and an important economic and security partner, and there is much to be gained from cooperation with the East Asian democracy, he added.
Kritenbrink also mentioned that the U.S. will not ask countries to choose sides between it and China, adding that it hopes all countries can make decisions without coercion.
The assistant secretary of state and National Security Council Coordinator for the Indo-Pacific Kurt Campbell led a delegation to Fiji, Papa New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands from April 23-25. Kritenbrink said they had made it clear to Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare that the U.S. “respects the right of nations to make sovereign decisions in the best interests of their people,” according to a U.S. State Department press release.
The delegation expressed concerns over potential regional security implications of the recently finalized Solomon Islands-China security agreement for the U.S. and its allies and partners. The U.S. delegation outlined its worries about “the purpose, scope, and transparency of the agreement,” per the press release.
Sogavare assured the U.S. that there would be no military base, no long-term Chinese troop presence, and no opportunity for Beijing to project power under the agreement. The delegation said it will follow developments closely with regional partners.