Taiwan’s highest-ranking official in the Unites States said China’s aggressive behavior in response to visits by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other U.S. officials will only draw the island closer to its allies.
“The more they bully us, the more we need friends,” Bi-khim Hsiao said in an interview with The Hill on Wednesday, just hours before the U.S. and Taiwan announced plans to formally begin trade negotiations early this fall.
Not shy: Hsiao, Taiwan’s representative to the U.S., isn’t shying away from the trips even though China has answered them with military drills and angry rhetoric. In fact, she welcomes more.
“We are very concerned and worried about China’s provocative, reckless, and irresponsible actions that are extremely dangerous,” Hsiao said.
“But then again, as a victim of their bullying, we’re not going to go out and say, ‘We don’t want friends. Stop visiting us.’”
Some context: Hsiao’s remarks punctuated weeks of heightened tensions between the U.S. and China over Pelosi’s trip. The Speaker became the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Taiwan in more than two decades earlier in August, and that trip was followed by five-member bipartisan delegation to Taiwan earlier this week.
The visits have demonstrated U.S. support for Taiwan in the face of rising threats from China.
Beijing has reacted by staging military drills around Taiwan, moving to suspend cooperation with the U.S. on climate change and other issues and slapping sanctions on Taiwanese officials, including Hsiao.
‘Will not be silenced’: “If they think sanctions will restrict our pursuit of international space or stifle our voices, they are wrong,” Hsiao told The Hill. “We will not be silenced by these sanctions.”
She argued that China with its actions has inspired more international support for Taiwan.
Unintended consequences: “They are the ones that are stirring up a lot of attention and they are also, ironically, promoting greater sympathy and interest in visiting Taiwan from the international community, and China needs to be held accountable for their own behavior,” Hsiao said.
“It’s a constant struggle for us to be seen and heard and have a presence internationally,” Hsiao added. “By trying to suffocate our international space, China is actually prompting an even greater desire of the Taiwanese people to have these friends.”
Read the full interview here
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