U.S. lauds Taiwan's democracy, blasts China's 'antipathy to liberty'

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WASHINGTON, (CNA).- United States Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday praised Taiwan as a beacon of Chinese culture and democracy, while criticizing China as failing to honor its trade commitments and to observe the right to freedom.

In a speech at the Frederic V. Malek Public Service Leadership Lecture, Pence reaffirmed the U.S.' support for Taiwan.

The U.S. "stood by Taiwan in defense of her hard-won freedoms," he said. "We've authorized additional military sales and recognized Taiwan's place as one of the world's great trading economies and beacons of Chinese culture and democracy."

In China, meanwhile, millions of ethnic and religious minorities are struggling against the Communist Party's efforts to eradicate their religious and cultural identities, Pence said.

Furthermore, China has been turning up the pressure on the democracy in Taiwan over the past year, using checkbook diplomacy to induce two more nations to switch diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing, he said, referring to the Pacific nations of the Solomon Islands and Kiribati.

The international community should not forget that "its engagement with Taiwan does not threaten the peace," Pence said. "America will always believe that Taiwan's embrace of democracy shows a better path for all the Chinese people."

He however reaffirmed the U.S' one China policy, saying it was built on the basis of the three joint communiqués with China and the Taiwan Relations Act.

It was Pence's second public criticism of China in a year, following his remarks in October 2018 at the Hudson Institute on U.S. policy toward China.

In his speech Thursday on the U.S.' relationship with China, Pence again blasted Beijing as suppressing freedom of speech and religion, engaging in unfair trade practices, and stealing U.S. intellectual property.

China has also broken its 2015 pledge not to "militarize" the South China Sea, he said, adding that China has deployed advanced anti-ship and anti-air missiles at military bases constructed on artificial islands in the area.

"But nothing in the past year has put on display the Chinese Communist Party's antipathy to liberty so much as the unrest in Hong Kong," Pence said.

The vice president further said China was trying to "export censorship," as evidenced by the removal of Houston Rockets sneakers and other merchandise from several Nike stores in China amid a furor over a tweet by the basketball team's general manager in support of the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

"By exploiting corporate greed, Beijing is attempting to influence American public opinion, coercing corporate America," Pence said.

Nonetheless, the U.S. is not seeking confrontation with China, but rather wants to see a level playing field, open markets, fair trade, and respect for American values, he said.

"We are not seeking to contain China's development," Pence said.

"We want a constructive relationship with China's leaders, like we have enjoyed for generations with China's people. And if China will step forward and seize this unique moment in history to start anew by ending the trade practices that have taken advantage of the American people for far too long, I know President Donald Trump is ready and willing to begin that new future."

He said the U.S is reaching out to China in the hope that Beijing will reach back, "this time with deeds, not words, and with renewed respect for America."

In Taipei, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed thanks for Washington's consistent support, saying Taiwan will continue to work with like-minded nations to protect democracy and international order.

(By Chiang Chin-yeh, Elaine Hou and Elizabeth Hsu)

http://focustaiwan.tw/news/aipl/201910250004.aspx

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