Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said on Wednesday that she, Vice President William Lai and Premier Su Tseng-chang will each donate one month’s salary to aid humanitarian relief efforts for Ukraine as it seeks to repel an invasion by Russia.
The war has generated widespread sympathy in Taiwan for Ukraine’s people, due to the threat the island says it faces on a daily basis from giant neighbour China. Beijing views Taiwan as its own territory and has stepped up its military pressure to assert those claims.
Tsai, whose government this week send its first batch of aid in the form of 27 tonnes of medical supplies, told a meeting of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party that the determination of Ukraine’s people has moved the world and Taiwan’s people too.
Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation”.
The forces of global democracy supporting Ukraine are growing stronger, Tsai said.
“As a member of the global partners of democracy, Taiwan is not absent, and we fully support Ukraine.”
The Foreign Ministry will provide details of a bank account set up by Taiwan’s Relieve Disaster Association for Ukraine relief donations into which Tsai said she, Lai and Su will each donate a month’s salary.
Taiwan last week also announced it was joined Western-led sanctions on Russia, though its own trade with the country is minimal.
“I hope that our compatriots, as well as all our party partners in public office, can fully respond to this action and firmly express to the world that Taiwan stands with Ukraine, and Taiwan stands with democracy and freedom,” Tsai said.
Taiwan is largely excluded from global organisations like the United Nations due to Chinese pressure, but aspires to show it is a responsible member of the international community despite its diplomatic isolation.
The United States stands firmly behind its commitments to Taiwan, a visiting U.S. delegation said on Wednesday, as Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen vowed to work more closely with allies in response to what she called China’s growing military threat.
The delegation of former U.S. top security and defence officials has been sent by President Joe Biden and is visiting Chinese-claimed Taiwan against the backdrop of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which is being closely watched on the democratic island.
Collaboration between the United States and Taiwan is stronger and more expansive than ever before, said former chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen, who is leading the delegation.
“The United States will continue to oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo and will continue to support a peaceful resolution of cross-strait issues, consistent with the wishes and best interests of the people of Taiwan,” Mullen told Tsai in a meeting broadcast live.
“I do hope by being here with you, we can reassure you and your people, as well as our allies and partners in the region, that the United States stands firm behind its commitments.”
Taiwan, claimed by China as its own territory, is on alert in case Beijing tries to use the opportunity of the Ukraine crisis to make a move on the island, though the government has reported no unusual Chinese activity.
Beijing has vowed to bring the island under its control, by force if necessary, and has increased its military and political pressure against Taiwan to try and force the island to accept China’s sovereignty.
Taiwan has vowed to defend itself if attacked.
“China’s military threat to the Taiwan Strait and to the region continues to rise,” Tsai told the U.S. delegation.
“We look forward to working even more closely with the U.S. and other stakeholders in the region, collectively responding to challenges and unilateral actions that could impact security, in order to maintain regional peace and stability,” she said.
She said the United States visit during the crisis in Ukraine demonstrated the “rock-solid” ties between Taiwan and the United States and highlighted the island’s role in regional and global security.
Under long-standing U.S. policy, the United States has only unofficial relations with Taipei and recognises China diplomatically.
However, U.S. law requires it to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself and the Biden administration has vowed to continue former President Donald Trump’s policy of stepping up engagement with the island.
The trip comes days after a U.S. warship sailed through the sensitive Taiwan Strait, the waterway between China and Taiwan. The U.S. military described its passage as routine but Beijing said it was “provocative”.
China describes Taiwan as the most sensitive and important issue in its ties with the United States, and any high-level interactions that the island has upset Beijing.
China denounced the Mullen’s visit on Tuesday, with its foreign ministry spokesperson, Wang Wenbin, saying “whoever the United States sends to show support for Taiwan is bound to fail”.
Photo – Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. EPA-EFE/RITCHIE B. TONGO