Taiwan thanks U.S. for maintaining security in Taiwan Strait

·2-min read
Pedestrians wait at an intersection near a screen showing footage of Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) aircraft during an evening news programme, in Beijing

By Sarah Wu

TAIPEI (Reuters) -Taiwan's foreign ministry on Saturday expressed "sincere gratitude" towards the United States for taking "concrete actions" to maintain security and peace in the Taiwan Strait and the region.

U.S. Indo-Pacific coordinator Kurt Campbell said on Friday that China "overreacted" to U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan, which set off days of war games by Beijing around the island, which China views as its own territory.

Taiwan's foreign ministry said in a statement on Saturday that China's "unprovoked military and economy intimidation" had "further strengthened the unity and resilience of the global democratic camp".

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said on Thursday that China's threat of force is undiminished, even though Beijing's largest- ever military drills around the island, following Pelosi's visit last week, seemed to be scaling down.

At a rally on Saturday in southern Taiwan for local elections scheduled for late November, Tsai said they were not just facing rival candidates, "but also pressure from China".

"Taiwanese are very enthusiastic and love freedom and democracy, so many good international friends have come to Taiwan to support us. This is a normal and good thing, but China threatens and intimidates Taiwan," she said.

"However, I would like to reassure everyone that both our government and the military are prepared, and I will definitely take care of Taiwan."

China is continuing its military activity near Taiwan, though on a much smaller scale compared with last week.

Taiwan's Defence Ministry said that on Saturday 13 Chinese air force planes had crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait, which acts as an unofficial barrier between the two sides in normal times.

Taiwan's government says that as the People's Republic of China has never ruled the island, it has no right to claim it or decide its future, which can only be set by Taiwan's people.

The defeated Republic of China government fled to Taiwan in 1949 after losing a civil war to Mao Zedong's Communist Party, which established the People's Republic of China in Beijing.

China has never renounced the use of force to bring democratically governed Taiwan under its control.

(Reporting by Sarah Wu; Writing by David Kirton and Ben Blanchard; Editing by Tom Hogue, Michael Perry and William Mallard)