Joe Biden Warned That Taiwan Must Not 'Fall Prey' to China

Beijing could have unfettered access to the Indo-Pacific if Taiwan were to "fall prey" to Chinese aggression, Taiwan's foreign minister has said while describing regional security as among Joe Biden's "most urgent priorities."

Joseph Wu's remarks also included gratitude to the outgoing administration of President Donald Trump, who he credited with advancing the U.S.-Taiwan relationship "to a level that is stronger than it has ever been."

His conversation with Bonnie Glaser, director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, was broadcast as part of a virtual forum on Wednesday.

Wu said President-elect Biden's call for a coalition of like-minded partners and allies was a "reassuring" message to democracies in the region. He stressed the importance of Taiwan's inclusion in the Indo-Pacific's "security architecture."

Ensuring security and prosperity in the region would be among Biden's "most urgent priorities," Wu said, adding: "If Taiwan were to fall prey to China, it would greatly expand Beijing's reach into the Indo-Pacific region, and significantly upend the rules-based international order."

Describing China as the most obvious "source of instability" in the area and calling the Taiwan Strait a "flashpoint," Tsai Ing-wen's top diplomat said Taiwan's inclusion in regional bodies would allow Taipei to contribute to the wider security dialog on a number of issue areas, including non-traditional fields like media literacy, which deals in the management of misinformation.

"Taiwan is able and willing" to participate in discussions—even unofficially—with coalition bodies such as Quad, which currently includes the United States, Japan, India and Australia, he told Glaser.

"Taiwan can make contributions to regional prosperity and security," Wu added. Participation would allow the Indo-Pacific region to "benefit from Taiwan's strength."

The minister noted that, because of China's preconditions for cross-strait dialog—the Chinese leadership insists on adherence to its one-China principle—Beijing was now "less flexible" in dealing with Taiwan.

"As long as the international community, especially like-minded countries, think that Taiwan can play a positive role in the international community, I think China's heavy-handed way in dealing with Taiwan is not going to work," he said.

Wu revealed that U.S. warships made 13 transits through the Taiwan Strait in 2020 as part of the Navy's freedom of navigation operations.

"It's a show of American determination to make a presence in this region. That kind of presence is being noticed not just by Taiwan, but also by other countries. We appreciate that very much," the foreign minister added, calling Washington the "most important friend and ally of Taiwan."

Wu said ships of other nations were also entering the region for patrols in the South China Sea. He listed vessels from Canada, U.K., France, Japan and Australia.

He said Taiwan appreciated the international effort to "deter aggression" from the Chinese Communist Party, which lays claim to almost all of the South China Sea and its many islands.

Secretary Alex Azar Meets Taiwan's Foreign Minister
File photo: Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar (L) speaks while meeting with Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (R) at a local hotel in Taipei on August 11, 2020. Pei Chen/AFP via Getty Images