Taiwan’s presidential office has thanked US Vice President Mike Pence for supporting Taiwan in his speech on US policy towards China on Thursday.

Pence delivered a 40-minute speech at the conservative think tank the Hudson Institute giving the Trump administration’s views on China. He said Beijing was employing a “whole-of-government approach” to advance its influence and benefit its interests in the US, and accused China of meddling in America’s democracy.

Pence mentioned Taiwan several times in the speech, in particular criticising Beijing for pushing three Latin American nations to sever ties with Taipei. “These actions threaten the stability of the Taiwan Strait – and the United States of America condemns these actions,” he said.

Tsai Ing-wen. Photo: Taiwan presidential office.

Taiwan’s presidential office said it noticed Pence’s speech and US concerns over the situation in the region.

“We express our gratitude for the US government’s recognition of Taiwan’s achievements, support for Taiwan’s international space, and its concerns over the region’s security,” a statement from the office said.

Citing a speech by President Tsai Ing-wen on cross-strait relations, it said: “Our goodwill will not change, our commitments will not change, we will not revert to the old path of confrontation, and we will not bow to pressure.”

“As a responsible member of the international community, Taiwan will continuously with different parties in the region, bear firmly the role of defender of the region’s peace and prosperity, contribute to the safety and welfare across the strait and in the region,” it added.

Office of the President, Taiwan. Photo: presidentialoffice.

In the speech, Pence also made reference to Chinese authorities’ threats to US companies – such as Delta Airlines – forcing them to list Taiwan as part of China on their websites.

Pence said the administration will continue to respect the One China Policy, but added: “America will always believe Taiwan’s embrace of democracy shows a better path for all the Chinese people.”

Taiwan has been ruled by the Republic of China government since 1945, after Japan – which had occupied Taiwan for 50 years – was defeated in the Second World War. The People’s Republic of China claims that Taiwan is one of its provinces and does not recognise it as an independent country.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said the US charges were “nothing but speaking on hearsay evidence, confusing right and wrong and creating something out of thin air.”

She said China was a “builder of world peace” with no interest in meddling in US elections.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.