US helping Taiwan amid the Chinese Taiwan tension

US and Taiwan discussing the Taiwan’s meaningful participation in UN.

Taiwan, using its formal name the Republic of China, held the Chinese seat at the UN until 25 October 1971, when it was voted out as representative of the country in favour of the People’s Republic of China, whose communist forces had won a civil war in 1949 and forced the republican government to flee to the island.

China says that Taiwan is one of its provinces, and so it has the sole right to represent Taiwan internationally. The democratically elected government in Taipei says only it has that right.

In a statement late on Saturday, the US state department said US and Taiwanese officials had met virtually on Friday for a “discussion focused on supporting Taiwan’s ability to participate meaningfully at the UN”.

“US participants reiterated the US commitment to Taiwan’s meaningful participation at the World Health Organization and UN framework convention on climate change and discussed ways to highlight Taiwan’s ability to contribute to efforts on a wide range of issues,” it added.

Taiwan’s foreign ministry thanked the US for its “firm support”.

The statement came days after president Joe Biden said for the second time in three months that the US would come to Taiwan’s defence if it was attacked, prompting China to tell the US to “avoid sending any wrong signals”.

In both instances, the White House has clarified that there has been no change in US policy, which officially maintains so-called “strategic ambiguity” regarding Taiwan.

Xi is due to speak on the 50th anniversary on Monday of what China calls the restoration of its lawful seat at the UN.

Taiwan has been particularly angered by its inability to fully access the WHO during the Covid-19 pandemic, though China and the WHO say the island has been given the help it has needed.

China has recently ramped up political and military pressure to force Taiwan to accept Chinese sovereignty.

On Sunday, China’s defence ministry said it had conducted its first joint patrols with Russian warships in the western Pacific.

It said the exercise aimed to “further develop the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership in the new era, enhance the joint action capabilities of both parties and jointly maintain international and regional strategic stability”.

A report on the ministry website said the operation was part of annual cooperation between the two nations and not targeted at third parties.

Moscow and Beijing, which staged naval cooperation drills in the Sea of Japan earlier in October, have cultivated closer military and diplomatic ties in recent years at a time when their relations with the west have soured.

The naval manoeuvres, which Russia said ran from Sunday through Saturday, have been closely watched by Japan, which said earlier in the week that a group of 10 vessels from China and Russia had sailed through the Tsugaru Strait separating Japan’s main island and its northern island of Hokkaido.

“The group of ships passed through the Tsugaru Strait for the first time as part of the patrol,” Russia’s defence ministry said in a statement. The strait is regarded as international waters.

“The tasks of the patrols were the demonstration of the Russian and Chinese state flags, maintaining of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region and guardianship of the subjects of maritime economic activities of the two countries,” the ministry added.

Foreign ships are allowed to navigate through the Osumi and Tsugaru straits, but Japan’s defence ministry said it will monitor the two navies, characterising the recent moves as “unusual”, NHK reported.