Peace in the Taiwan Strait is a global concern, says Mullen –

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait is “not just an American interest, but also a global interest,” the former heads of state chairman said Wednesday. -US Joint Maj. Mike Mullen during a visit to Taiwan that comes amid Russia’s war against Ukraine.

The conflict in Ukraine has drawn parallels with China’s threat to use force to annex Taiwan, a self-governing island democracy it considers its own territory.

China has sought to diplomatically isolate President Tsai Ing-wen’s administration, sent military planes into the island’s buffer zone and held threatening drills nearby.

Mullen said peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region has “never been more important”.

“We come to Taiwan at a very difficult and critical time in world history. As President Biden has said, democracy faces sustained and alarming challenges, most recently in Ukraine,” he said in remarks to Tsai. “Now more than ever, democracy needs champions.”

Taiwan and mainland China are separated by the 160 kilometer (100 mile) wide Taiwan Strait, and any Chinese attempt to attack or invade would carry considerable risk, as well as the possibility of implicating the United States and other regional powers in the conflict.

The United States supplies Taiwan with defensive weapons and is legally bound to ensure that the island can defend itself and to treat all threats to it as matters of “grave concern”.

Mullen said his delegation’s visit “reflects the bipartisan nature of support for America’s strong partnership with Taiwan.”

In his remarks, Tsai stressed that Taiwan would continue to strengthen its defenses against China and said the resistance of the Ukrainian people was inspirational.

“As a member of the international community, Taiwan not only expresses strong condemnation, but also participates in international sanctions against Russia and initiates humanitarian aid to Ukraine,” she said. “Now is the time for the world’s democracies to unite, and Taiwan cannot be absent.”

Separately, former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Taiwan on Wednesday evening and was met by the Foreign Ministry’s North American Affairs chief. Pompeo, who previously headed the Central Intelligence Agency, will also meet with Tsai on Thursday and address a forum, according to the Foreign Ministry.

Pompeo has drawn attention for his recent flattering comments about Vladimir Putin, in which he called the Russian president “very capable” and said he had “tremendous respect for him”.

Teresa H. Sadler