Taiwan’s foreign minister said Sunday that his island nation is studying carefully Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine for lessons applicable to its situation with China.
“We try to see what we can learn from Ukraine in defending ourselves,” Foreign Minister Joseph Wu told host Fareed Zakaria in an interview on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS,” noting how the Russian invasion has unexpectedly bogged down.
“There are two things, of course,” Wu said. “The first is asymmetric capability. Look at the Ukrainians, they use small personal weapons to go against a large enemy. And I think that is something we can learn from. In fact, we have been preparing for that, but we need to make more investment in this regard.”
He added: “The second area we can learn from Ukraine is civil defense. Look at the Ukrainian people. All of the males are having the determination to defend the country. They want to serve in the military. They want to go to the war zones to fight against Russia. That kind of spirit is enviable for the Taiwanese people.”
China has cast a hungry eye toward Taiwan since 1949 when nationalist leaders fled the mainland at the end of Mao Zedong’s successful communist revolution and established a home there. Tensions have waxed and waned through the years, but China’s leadership has never stopped claiming that Taiwan is part of China.
“When there’s a war, we need friends and allies to support Taiwan, as in the case of Ukraine,” Wu said.
Zakaria asked Wu if Taiwan feared that China might take Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as “a green light” to launch its own invasion of Taiwan.
Saying it was “a very difficult issue for Taiwan to answer,” Wu said he thought that China was watching how the rest of the world was responding to Russia’s aggression.
“I think the Chinese government must be thinking or calculating how the United States or other major countries are going to come to Taiwan’s help or whether they’re going to come to Taiwan’s help. If Taiwan does not have any support, I think that’s going to be a green light to aggression,” said Wu, who is serving in the government of President Tsai Ing-wen.
Wu added: “The second thing, if they think Taiwan is weak and easy to take over, I think it’s an open invitation for Beijing’s aggression. But I think we have seen from Ukraine, the case of Ukraine, is even though they seem to be weaker than Russia … that they are able to defend themselves and, therefore, Beijing must think twice whether they are able to take Taiwan over.”
The United States has had complicated relations with Taiwan since the 1970s, when the administration of President Richard Nixon established relations with Mao and China, and the administration of President Jimmy Carter let a mutual defense treaty with Taiwan lapse.
Reports surfaced Saturday that the United States and Britain have held talks recently about contingencies for a possible China-Taiwan war. British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said last week that NATO should look to protect Taiwan as part of its efforts “to tackle global threats.”
Wu said that even though Taiwan’s status as a sovereign nation is far from universally recognized, other leaders throughout the world have been expressing support.
“They know that if there’s going to be a war over Taiwan, it’s going to be a disaster for the rest of the world,” he said.