The US and Australia on Tuesday reaffirmed Taiwan’s vital role in the Indo-Pacific region, and expressed concern about China’s efforts to erode Hong Kong’s autonomy.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper hosted Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne and Australian Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds in Washington for the 30th Australia-US Ministerial Consultations.
They issued a joint statement afterward to declare their shared commitments in regional and global issues.
They reaffirmed that the Indo-Pacific is the focus of their alliance, and that the US and Australia are working side by side, including with ASEAN, India, Japan, South Korea and their other “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing partners (Canada, New Zealand and the UK), to maintain a region that is secure, prosperous, inclusive and rules-based, the statement said.
They expressed concerns about China’s efforts to erode Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedoms, as well as its campaigns repressing Uighurs and other minority groups in Xinjiang, it said.
They also reaffirmed Taiwan’s important role in the region, adding that they would maintain “strong unofficial ties with Taiwan” and support the nation’s membership in international organizations where statehood is not a prerequisite, the statement said.
“Where statehood is a prerequisite for membership, both sides support Taiwan’s meaningful participation as an observer or guest,” it said. “They reiterated that any resolution of cross-strait differences should be peaceful and according to the will of the people on both sides, without resorting to threats or coercion,” it said.
“They also committed to enhancing donor coordination with Taiwan, with a focus on development assistance to Pacific island countries,” the statement said.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) yesterday thanked the US and Australia for publicly supporting Taiwan, which she said marks the success of the government’s New Southbound Policy.
It covers 10 Southeast Asian nations, six South Asian nations, and Australia and New Zealand.
Taiwan’s location is critical in East Asia and the western Pacific, and it would continue to work with the US, Australia and other like-minded partners to foster peace, stability and prosperity in the region, while defending democratic systems and a rules-based international order, Ou said in a statement.
Ou also thanked New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for reiterating her support for Taiwan’s bid to join the WHO.
Taiwan and New Zealand have successfully contained the COVID-19 pandemic, while further cooperation between the two countries would contribute more to the world’s health systems, she said.
During her speech at the China Business Summit in Auckland on Monday last week, Ardern spelled out New Zealand’s differences from China, but said that they would manage those differences well.
“As you know, this has come to the fore recently around developments like Hong Kong’s new security law, the situation of the Uighur people in the Xinjiang region, and Taiwan’s participation in the World Health Organization. This is important to who we are as New Zealanders,” she said.
However, she said that New Zealand and China would support “the WHO-led COVID-19 review.”
Describing New Zealand-China ties as “mature,” she said: “I expect that we will continue to have these [different perspectives] into the future. That is normal.”
New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters on Tuesday announced that the country had suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong.
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