Taiwan must not be allowed to go the same way as Ukraine, former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday during a meeting with the island’s president.
“If any of us were mistaken or complacent about the risk to that freedom, I think we need only watch what’s taking place in Europe today to see that this continues to demand deep concerted focus leadership from those of us who cherish freedom,” Pompeo said in a meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen.
“I think these days call for the simple reminder that it is not provocative to say that one demands freedom,” he added warning that “those who desire to destroy freedom, to change human lives” will see silence as “their opportunity”.
Pompeo, one of former president Donald Trump’s most hawkish advisors on China, arrived in Taipei on Wednesday for a visit at a time of rising tensions between Washington and Beijing over the self-ruled island as well as the crisis sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
His visit comes a day after a separate trip by a delegation of former US security officials aimed at assuring regional allies that Washington “stands firm behind its commitments”.
Democratic Taiwan has watched the Ukraine situation closely, as it lives under constant threat of a Chinese invasion, with Beijing claiming sovereignty over the island and vowing to seize it one day — by force if necessary.
Pompeo announced in January last year as the outgoing state secretary that Washington was ending restrictions on official contacts with Taipei island in a move that angered Beijing.
Tsai praised Pompeo for facilitating “multiple breakthroughs” in Taiwan-US relations after conferring him an honorary medal to recognise his contributions.
China has ramped up pressure on Taiwan since the 2016 election of Tsai, who rejects its stance that the island is part of Chinese territory.
Its sabre-rattling has increased considerably over the past year, with warplanes breaching Taiwan’s air defence zone on a near-daily basis.
Just weeks before Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, China and Russia signed a joint statement agreeing to a host of foreign policy goals, including Taiwan being “an inalienable part” of the mainland.
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