US fears China speeding up unification plans with Taiwan

As foreign minister, Joseph Wu has one of the toughest gigs in Taiwan – building relationships for his diplomatically-isolated homeland that’s under threat from China.

"A lot of countries in the world are facing the pressure and we don't bow to the pressure from China,” said Wu.

China claims self-governed Taiwan as its own and President Xi Jinping is not ruling out force to unify it with the mainland.

Wu encouraged the international community to call out the threats of force and said just because nations don’t have diplomatic ties with Taiwan, doesn’t stop them from showing their support.

He said New Zealand had been vocal in supporting Taiwan to participate in international organisations.

Taiwan is a democracy that values freedom of speech and rainbow rights. It was the first place in Asia to legalise gay marriage.

It wont compromise on its freedoms but China’s pushing ahead with its plan.

“We're willing to work out a solution between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait on the basis of one country two systems. To take into account some of the realities in Taiwan,” said the Chinese ambassador to New Zealand Wang Xiaolong.

Less than 10% of Taiwan’s 23 million people want unification according to a recent poll. Most support the status quo.

"We should stay firm on our position. At the same time we don't appear to be provocative and militarily we should be prepared for a worst kind of scenario," said Wu.

But ambassador Wang said “the last thing we want to see is war in this region.”

China says it wants peaceful unification but this year it’s shown aggression with large scale military drills around the island.

The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said China’s working on a “much faster timeline” for unification.

"I hope that Beijing will come back to a place where it actually sees the merits in making sure that differences are peacefully resolved, that it doesn’t try to force things through coercion, and even worse, through force," said Blinken.

Taiwan, though is determined to defend itself.

"The worst case scenario is that we are caught ill-prepared," said Wu.

He is now looking to democratic countries for possible support when Taiwan might need it most.

Cushla Norman’s trip to Taiwan has been funded by the Asia New Zealand Foundation.


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