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International relations

Taiwan tells Biden emissaries it will deter China threats with US

Tsai to work with 'like-minded' countries to counter Beijing's 'adventurous maneuvers'

Former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage speaks at a meeting with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in Taipei on April 15.   © Pool photo/Reuters

TAIPEI (Reuters) -- Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen told emissaries visiting at U.S. President Joe Biden's request on Thursday that the island would work with the United States to deter threats from Chinese military activities.

Former senior U.S. officials, including former U.S. Senator Chris Dodd and former Deputy Secretaries of State Richard Armitage and James Steinberg, are visiting Taipei in a trip to signal Biden's commitment to Taiwan and its democracy.

Tsai told the U.S. delegation in a meeting at the Presidential Office that Chinese military activities in the region have threatened regional peace and stability.

"We are very willing to work with like-minded countries, including the United States, to jointly safeguard the peace and stability of the Indo-Pacific and deter adventurous maneuvers and provocations," Tsai said.

She vowed to continue to cooperate with the United States to counter "cognitive warfare" and misinformation, but did not elaborate.

Dodd told Tsai the Biden administration would be Taiwan's "reliable, trusted friend," which will help the island expand its international space and support its investment in self defense.

He added the U.S. partnership with Taiwan is "stronger than ever" and that the visit was to reaffirm Biden's commitment to the island.

Tsai also told the delegation that Taiwan looks forward to resuming trade talks with the United States as soon as possible. Taipei has long sought a free trade deal with Washington.

Dan Biers, director of the State Department's Office of Taiwan Coordination, is also part of the delegation.

Taiwan is China's most sensitive territorial issue and a major source of contention with Washington, which is required by U.S. law to provide the island with the means to defend itself.

Taiwan has complained over the last few months about almost daily missions by China's air force near its air defence identification zone (ADIZ). Twenty-five Chinese aircraft, including fighters and nuclear-capable bombers, entered Taiwan's ADIZ on Monday in the largest reported incursion to date.

China announced on Wednesday it would begin five days of live-fire drills off a part of its coast facing Taiwan, which Taiwan's Defence Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng told reporters the country would pay close attention to.

"There's some psychological impact, but don't get too worked up about this. Everyone should have confidence in the armed forces," he said.

Chiu will meet with the visiting Americans, his deputy Chang Che-ping told lawmakers.

The unofficial U.S. visit, which a White House official called a "personal signal" of the president's commitment to Chinese-claimed Taiwan, is further straining Sino-U.S. relations.

China on Wednesday described its military exercises near Taiwan as "combat drills" and said the meeting of the U.S. officials with Tsai "will only exacerbate the tense situation in the Taiwan Strait". 

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