Newly-appointed U.S. envoy to Taiwan pledges to help the island with self-defence as threats from China loom

The U.S., like most countries, does not recognize Taiwan as a country. But it's the island's main partner and is bound by U.S. laws to provide it with the means to defend itself

Updated - July 10, 2024 01:36 pm IST

Published - July 10, 2024 12:07 pm IST - Taipei (Taiwan)

Taiwan’s President William Lai Ching-te, right pose for photos with American Institute in Taiwan’s (AIT) director Greene F. Raymond in Taipei, Taiwan on July 10, 2024.

Taiwan’s President William Lai Ching-te, right pose for photos with American Institute in Taiwan’s (AIT) director Greene F. Raymond in Taipei, Taiwan on July 10, 2024. | Photo Credit: AP

The United States' new top envoy to Taiwan promised on July 10 that Washington will help the self-ruled island defend itself as China ramps up its military threats.

Raymond Greene, who assumed his new role as director of the American Institute in Taiwan on July 8, met with Taiwanese President Lai Ching-te.

“First of all, and the most important thing, the U.S. will strongly support Taiwan's self-defense capabilities,” Mr. Greene said. “We both have common and long-term interests in peace and stability over the Taiwan Strait.”

Also Read: Where do China-Taiwan relations stand? | Explained

Mr. Lai said Taiwan will strive to maintain the status quo with Beijing, which claims the island democracy of 23 million people as its own territory, to be reclaimed by force if necessary.

Taiwan's Defense Ministry also said Wednesday it detected 36 Chinese military jets, including J-16 fighters and H-6 bombers, flying south and southeast of the island and headed into the Western Pacific to carry out drills with China's Shandong aircraft carrier.

The U.S., like most countries, does not recognize Taiwan as a country. But it's the island's main partner and is bound by U.S. laws to provide it with the means to defend itself. Less than a month ago, the U.S. State Department approved the sale to Taiwan of missiles and drones for an estimated $360 million.

In April, the House of Representatives approved an $8 billion military aid package for Taiwan.

“Taiwan and the U.S. are solid partners to each other who strive to maintain regional peace and stability,” Mr. Lai said Wednesday.

The Chinese government didn't immediately comment on the meeting.

Also Read:Preventing a China-Taiwan conflict

The American Institute in Taiwan functions as a de facto embassy. Taipei also operates an Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the U.S. and similar de facto embassies in other countries.

China has ramped up its military pressure against the island since Lai took office in May. Beijing sees Lai as a separatist and refuses to speak with him.

In late June, Beijing threatened to hunt down and execute “hardcore” Taiwan independence supporters. In response, Taipei urged its citizens to avoid traveling to China and the semi-autonomous Chinese territories of Hong Kong and Macao.

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