Don’t ‘fight on our behalf’!​ Taiwan​ rejects UK's offer to help in conflict with China

The AUKUS pact signed between Australia, the UK and the US on Wednesday has sparked a debate on the hypothetical acceleration of conflicts between China and Taiwan. The nuclear submarine pact strengthened the alliance between three big Western democracies that have supported the democratic island, although none of them recognises Taiwan as a country.

On Thursday, Theresa May challenged her successor, asking during a Commons debate whether the newly signed AUKUS defence pact could lead to Britain being dragged into a war with China over Taiwan.

Tensions around the island have been mounting since President Xi Jinping vowed in 2019 to “reunify” Taiwan with the Chinese mainland, using force if necessary.

The Prime Minister was careful not to rule anything out in his reply.

“The United Kingdom remains determined to defend international law and that is the strong advice we would give to our friends across the world, and the strong advice that we would give to the government in Beijing,” he said.

Speaking from Taipei on Friday, Taiwanese ministry spokesperson Joanne Ou said the island welcomed the international support but would prefer not to see any belligerent Western army impose itself in its region.

“Of course we would appreciate very much the support of the international community and like-minded countries, but that is not an imperative,” Ou said.

Ou said Taiwan welcomed the formation of Aukus “but it doesn’t imply that we are asking the UK to get involved in the conflict across the Taiwan Strait.”

“We are responsible for Taiwan’s national security, we are not asking the UK or any other country to fight on our behalf.”

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“Building on the solid existing foundations, our government will continue to work closely with the United States, Australia and other countries with similar ideas to expand Taiwan’s international space, safeguard democracy and shared values, and a rules-based international order, and jointly safeguard peace, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region,” the ministry spokesperson continued.

Speaking at a meeting of the heads of state of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Tajikistan via video link, Chinese leader Xi Jinping urged members of the grouping to “absolutely resist external forces to interfere [in] countries in our region at any excuse, and hold the future of our countries’ development and progress firmly in our own hands.”

He vowed to resist “interference from external forces.”

Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang said the government had to take the threat from China seriously.

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“The Chinese Communists plot against us constantly,” she said.

Taiwan’s defence spending “is based on safeguarding national sovereignty, national security, and national security. We must not relax. We must have the best preparations so that no war will occur,” she added.

Earlier this week, Taipei even said ten Chinese aircraft, including fighter jets, entered its air space just a day after the UK, US and Australia signed a defence pact.

Details of the flights, published by Taiwan’s defence ministry, show the Chinese fighters briefly skirted into the defence zone before turning back.

The island has reported repeated missions by China’s air force over the past year.

Earlier this month 19 Chinese aircraft, including nuclear-capable bombers, entered its air defence identification zone, according to the defence ministry.

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