Taiwan Invites Democratic Dignitaries to Shore Up China Deterrence

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Former Prime Minister Taro Aso speaks at an international forum in Taipei on Tuesday.

TAIPEI — Taiwan has been emphasizing unity with other members of the democratic camp, from Japan and the United States to European nations, and strengthening exchanges with dignitaries from these countries because of growing tensions across the Taiwan Strait caused by China’s increasing military intimidation.

China’s Foreign Ministry responded Wednesday to former Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso’s remark in Taipei a day earlier that Japan, the U.S. and Taiwan needed to strengthen deterrence to prevent a Taiwan contingency. Aso made his speech in his capacity as the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s vice president.

The ministry’s spokesperson said that a “certain Japanese politician visited China’s Taiwan region and made irresponsible remarks that sought to hype up cross-Strait tensions, stoke antagonism and confrontation, and blatantly interfere in China’s internal affairs.”

The spokesperson added: “This seriously violates the one-China principle … China has made serious demarches to Japan and strongly condemns this.”

Ahead of Aso’s visit to Taiwan from Monday through Wednesday, China’s military was conspicuously active. Taiwan’s military announced that 24 military aircraft from China had entered Taiwan’s air defense identification zone, and 12 of these planes crossed the median line in the 24 hours leading up to Monday morning, when Aso arrived in Taiwan.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen’s administration has frequently invited U.S. and European government officials and legislators to Taiwan since then U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited in August 2022.

“Taiwan is at the vanguard of preventing China’s authoritarianism and expansionism,” a senior Taiwan official said. “Dignitaries’ visits to Taiwan are the most concrete demonstration of support for Taiwan from various nations.”

Within the democratic camp Japan is geographically closest to Taiwan. Tsai has referred to Japan as the most reliable partner in terms of security. Taipei considers Tokyo an important partner along with Washington in the event of an emergency involving Taiwan.

Taiwan also expects Japan to support its desire to participate as an observer at the general assembly of the World Health Organization and to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

A spokesperson for Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said that Taipei will continue to deepen cooperation with Japan, the United States, the European Union and other like-minded areas to jointly uphold the universal values of international order, democracy and human rights.