Envoy: Taiwan Working to Avoid Conflict with China

WASHINGTON (Jiji Press) — Taiwan aims to deter threats from China and prevent conflict with the country, Taiwan’s representative to the United States, Hsiao Bi-khim, has said.

“[China] is continuing dangerous behavior and provocations in the region,” Hsiao, head of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States, said in a recent interview with Jiji Press in Washington. “Everything we are trying to do now, including strengthening Taiwan’s own self-defense, is to have the ability to prevent a conflict from happening to deter a threat.”

Her comments came ahead of the one-year anniversary on Feb. 24 of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which the United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission says has increased the risk of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. The commission, created by the U.S. Congress in 2000, is tasked with monitoring and investigating national security implications on the United States of its trade and economic relations with China, and submitting an annual report to the legislature.

“I think the tragedy of Ukraine is a very painful reminder to all of us that the threat to use force, by authoritarian regimes that choose to violate the rules based on international order, is a very serious challenge for all of us,” Hsiao said.

The diplomat said that Taiwan wants to prevent more tragedies, such as a possible contingency in the Taiwan Strait, by boosting Taiwan’s defense capabilities through, among other things, extending the period of its conscription system and seeking opportunities for Taiwan to “continue to engage with the world.”

Hsiao welcomed Japan’s revision of its three key national security documents late last year and its decision to acquire counterstrike capabilities, saying, “We welcome the alignment of interests, to the extent that our partners in the region are equally concerned about maintaining peace and stability in the region.”

On this year’s summit of the Group of Seven major powers in Hiroshima in May, she said, “I think we all count on Japan’s important leadership role in” discussions over “maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and in the Indo-Pacific region.”

Hsiao noted that the G7 members — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States plus the European Union — are taking into consideration “the changing global circumstances and the need to reiterate the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.”

The U.S. and Taiwan governments are currently negotiating a trade framework. Hsiao accused China of trying to “isolate and marginalize Taiwan,” and said that Taipei is aiming to strengthen economic and trade ties with the United States as well as participate in regional trade and economic frameworks such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which has Japan and other countries as members.

U.S. media outlets have reported that U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy is planning a visit to Taiwan, after his predecessor Nancy Pelosi paid a visit last August.

While Pelosi’s visit heightened military tensions between Beijing and Taipei, Hsiao said Taiwan “will continue to welcome congressional delegations.”

“[Taiwan is] always happy to have international friends, especially friends who intend to support Taiwan and stand with Taiwan to engage with us,” she added.

Hsiao assumed the post of Taiwan’s representative to the United States in July 2020.

In August, 2022, the Chinese Communist Party added Hsiao to its blacklist of “stubborn Taiwan secessionists.”

Hsiao was born to a Taiwanese father and an American mother in Kobe in August 1971 and grew up in the southern Taiwan city of Tainan. She later earned a master’s degree at Columbia University in the United States.