WASHINGTON – The US has said it remains committed to Taiwan and other allies, pushing back at concerns about its resolve after its departure from Afghanistan led to the Taleban taking over Kabul.
“We believe that our commitments to our allies and partners are sacrosanct and always have been,” National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on Tuesday (Aug 17) during a press conference in Washington. “We believe our commitment to Taiwan and to Israel remains as strong as it’s ever been.”
When asked how Washington is countering questions about its resolve from Beijing and Moscow, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said, “We, of course, are in touch with the Chinese and the Russians.”
“Our message is very clear,” Ms Psaki added. “We stand by partners around the world who are subject to this kind of propaganda that Russia and China are projecting. And we’re going to continue to deliver on those words with actions.”
State media outlets in China have said that neither the US nor Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen would fight in the event of a conflict. The Global Times ran an opinion piece on Monday that said Washington abandoned Afghanistan and asked whether Taiwan would be any different.
Comparisons between Taiwan and Afghanistan are difficult, however. Taipei has enjoyed a quarter of a century of democratic rule without internal strife and saw American forces depart more than four decades ago without incident.
Moreover, the need to concentrate extra American forces in the Western Pacific to defend security partners such as Taiwan from Chinese pressure is a major argument of those who support withdrawal from Afghanistan.
China sees Taiwan as part of its territory and has asserted the right to unify both sides by force, if necessary.
Mr Max Baucus, a former US ambassador to Beijing, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television on Tuesday that Chinese President Xi Jinping may be emboldened to test the US over Taiwan.
“The development in Afghanistan is going to cause Xi Jinping to probe a little bit,” he said. “He’s going to test to see the degree to which we are going to stand up for Taiwan.”
Mr Xi will “look for openings”, Mr Baucus said. “He’ll probe here, probe there. That’s their history.”
The People’s Liberation Army has flown about 380 sorties into Taiwan’s air-defence identification zone this year – roughly equalling its total for all of last year – as part of a campaign to pile political, military and economic pressure on the government in Taipei.