BY JOHN BOWDEN
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Japan’s defense minister agreed last week to cooperate on Taiwan, a Japanese news agency reported Sunday.
According to Kyodo News, the officials agreed that the two nations would “closely cooperate” in the event of a military clash between Taiwan’s independent government and Beijing, which views the island territory to be part of China.
The report cited unidentified sources in Japan’s government.
The Hill has reached out to the State Department and Pentagon for comment.
Taiwan has become a major point of contention between Washington and Beijing, with Chinese officials in recent weeks urging their U.S. counterparts to reverse Trump-era policies showing support for the island territory. The Trump administration strengthened ties with Taiwan’s government, sending a delegation headed by a Cabinet official to the island last August.
“The Chinese government has no room for compromise,” China’s foreign minister said earlier this month.
“We urge the new U.S. administration to fully understand the high sensitivity of the Taiwan issue” and “completely change the previous administration’s dangerous practices of ‘crossing the line’ and ‘playing with fire,’” he continued.
A State Department spokesperson told The Hill earlier in March that the Biden administration “continues to express our strong concerns to Beijing regarding the troubling pattern of ongoing PRC attempts to intimidate its neighbors in the region, including Taiwan.”
“Our support for Taiwan is rock-solid,” the spokesperson added. “We will stand with friends and allies to advance our shared prosperity, security, and values and a free and open Indo-Pacific region — and that includes deepening our unofficial ties with democratic Taiwan.”