Era of ‘blind’ China engagement ending, says Pompeo in Taiwan

President Joe Biden has begun moving to a less ambiguous stance, saying in multiple interviews that the U.S. would come to Taiwan’s aid in the event of an attack

September 28, 2022 03:17 am | Updated 03:17 am IST

Taiwan’s Vice President William Lai (R) bumps elbows with former U.S. Secretary of States Mike Pompeo during the Global Taiwan Business Forum in Kaohsiung.

Taiwan’s Vice President William Lai (R) bumps elbows with former U.S. Secretary of States Mike Pompeo during the Global Taiwan Business Forum in Kaohsiung. | Photo Credit: AFP

Former U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo told an audience in Taiwan on Tuesday that the era of “blind engagement” with China is ending, and that Beijing’s increasingly aggressive behaviour has brought like-minded nations closer together.

One of former president Donald Trump’s advisers on China, Mr. Pompeo is the latest in a recent spate of Western politicians to visit Taiwan, often angering Beijing.

Mr. Pompeo’s visit comes ahead of a major gathering of Chinese Communist Party officials next month, where President Xi Jinping is expected to secure an unprecedented third term.

In a speech to a business forum in the city of Kaohsiung, Mr. Pompeo described Mr. Xi’s decade in power as a turning point in relations between Washington and Beijing - as well as many of China’s neighbours. 

“China’s aggressive conduct, diplomatically, militarily, economically... have changed this region. And it brought those who prefer peace and commerce even more closely together,” he said. 

“If we want a free 21st century, and not the Chinese century, the century which Xi Jinping dreams of, the old paradigm of blind engagement must end,” he added, praising countries such as Japan and Australia for boosting their defence spending.

Washington ramped up official contacts with Taiwan under Mr. Trump, especially towards the end of his four-year term as relations with Beijing worsened. 

Washington has long maintained a policy of “strategic ambiguity” on whether it would intervene militarily if China were to invade Taiwan. 

President Joe Biden has begun moving to a less ambiguous stance, saying in multiple interviews that the U.S. would come to Taiwan’s aid in the event of an attack. 

Mr. Pompeo, who since leaving office has advocated for diplomatically recognising Taiwan as an “already independent” nation, criticised what he described as Mr. Biden’s “muddled and confusing statements”. 

“Concerning America’s true commitment to Taiwan the ambiguity that had been American policy has now become even more ambiguous. This concerns me greatly,” he said on Tuesday.

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