A US draft bill calls on the White House to enhance deterrence against a conflict across the Taiwan Strait and cooperation with allies
By Lu Yi-hsuan
and Kayleigh Madjar / Staff reporter, with staff writer
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday thanked the US ambassador to the UN for exposing the truth of China’s “shameful behavior,” after she condemned Beijing for using vaccine diplomacy to coerce other nations.
Speaking at a meeting of the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday, US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield called on Washington to counter Beijing’s growing influence over the global body.
China exerts a “malign influence” on the UN that “promotes an authoritarian approach to multilateralism,” she said.
Its tactics include threatening to cut COVID-19 vaccine supply if countries do not follow China’s lead, she said.
For example, Haiti, a diplomatic ally of Taiwan, has been under “tremendous pressure” by Beijing, she said, calling on Washington to help Taiwan’s allies, as “many of them don’t have the wherewithal to resist the pressure that China is putting on them.”
Ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) thanked Thomas-Greenfield for highlighting China’s use of “vaccine diplomacy” to threaten other nations.
In addition to Haiti, Beijing has also pressured Taiwanese allies Paraguay and Honduras to swap diplomatic recognition in exchange for vaccines, Ou said.
“We sincerely thank the US ambassador for revealing the truth and reiterating US support for Taiwan’s participation in the UN and specialized institutions,” she added.
Ever since a vaccine crisis occurred in Paraguay, China has been attempting to force nations in dire need of help to exchange vaccines for political and diplomatic favors, Ou said.
Vaccines are a matter of life and death, and should not be used as a political tool, she added.
Calling China’s disregard for health needs shameful, Ou reiterated that the ministry condemns the use of vaccines by any country to harm Taiwan’s diplomatic ties.
Taiwan has 15 diplomatic allies worldwide, including nine in Central and South America.
In other news, bipartisan US lawmakers are planning to introduce legislation to the House this week, seeking to boost US support for Taiwan.
The leaders of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Asia subcommittee, Democratic US Representative Ami Bera and Republican US Representative Steve Chabot, are to introduce the Taiwan peace and stability act,” a measure “to support the diplomatic, economic and physical space” of Taiwan.
“Hopefully, we’re able to pass something in a bipartisan way on the House floor,” Bera told Reuters in a telephone interview. “I think this is an area where we can hopefully speak with one voice.”
The draft bill does not advocate a revision of the US’ long-standing position of “strategic ambiguity” toward the status of Taiwan, despite calls from some of the most hawkish members of the US Congress for a clear commitment to defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack.
The draft legislation stresses the importance of stability and calls on the administration of US President Joe Biden to report within 90 days on a comprehensive strategy to enhance deterrence against a cross-strait conflict, stressing cooperation with allies.
The bill also calls on US agencies to analyze ways to help Taiwan economically and expand development.
It recognizes Taiwan as an important contributor to the global community and calls on the Biden administration to submit a strategy for advancing Taiwan’s “meaningful participation” in international organizations.
In Taipei, the ministry expressed thanks for the show of support, saying that it would pay close attention to the bill’s progress.
Additional reporting by Reuters and CNA
Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.