Taipei [Taiwan], April 18 (ANI): In what could be called another massive setback to China, Taiwan has welcomed a joint statement issued by Japan and the United States affirming the importance of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.
According to Kyodo News, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou on Saturday said the Taiwan government is happy to see the United States and Japan are concerned about the current state of security in the Indo-Pacific region.
"The Taiwan government would like to express our most sincere welcome and gratitude," Ou said, as reported by Kyodo News.
"We will continue to work closely with Japan, the United States and other like-minded countries to safeguard democracy, universal values and a rules-based international order to ensure peace, prosperity and stability in the region," she said.
On Friday, in their first in-person meeting at the White House, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and US President Joe Biden said in their joint statement that they "underscore the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait" and "encourage the peaceful resolution of cross-strait issues," marking the first time that Taiwan has been mentioned in a US-Japan leaders' statement since 1969.
Ou said because of its strategic position in the first island chain, stretching from the Japanese archipelago through Taiwan, the Philippines and on to Borneo, Taiwan plays a key role in regional stability and prosperity.
Presidential Office spokesman Xavier Chang said the Taiwan government welcomed the joint statement, commending the move as conducive to peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
"We look forward to seeing Beijing authorities act responsibly and make a positive contribution to peace and well-being across the Taiwan Strait and the region," he said.
Chang emphasized that President Tsai Ing-wen's cross-strait policy has been consistent in maintaining that Taiwan will not succumb to pressure exerted by China, nor will it act rashly.
However, Beijing on Saturday expressed 'firm opposition to Washington and Tokyo's demand for a 'stable' Taiwan strait.
According to a joint leaders' statement posted on the White House's website, the two leaders exchanged views on the impact of China's actions on peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region and the world and shared their concerns over Chinese activities that are inconsistent with the international rules-based order, including the use of economic and other forms of coercion.
"We will continue to work with each other based on universal values and common principles. We also recognize the importance of deterrence to maintain peace and stability in the region. We oppose any unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the East China Sea," the joint leaders' statement read.
The two leaders also reiterated their objections to China's unlawful maritime claims and activities in the South China Sea and reaffirmed our strong shared interest in a free and open South China Sea governed by international law, in which freedom of navigation and overflight are guaranteed, consistent with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
China claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea and has overlapping territorial claims with Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan.
China has been increasing its maritime activities in both the South China Sea and the East China Sea over the past few months, partly in response to Beijing's concerns over the increasing US military presence in the region because of escalating Sino-US tensions. Beijing's rising assertiveness against counter claimants in the East and South Sea has resulted in unprecedented agreement across the Indo-Pacific.
Beijing claims full sovereignty over Taiwan, a democracy of almost 24 million people located off the southeastern coast of mainland China, despite the fact that the two sides have been governed separately for more than seven decades.
Taipei, on the other hand, has countered the Chinese aggression by increasing strategic ties with democracies including the US, which has been repeatedly opposed by Beijing. China has threatened that "Taiwan's independence" means war. (ANI)