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Tension surrounding Taiwan involves more nations than China and US, former diplomat says

Taiwan China Lessons
Johnson Lai/AP
FILE - Ground crew prepare an AIM-120 advanced medium range air-to-air missile on a F16V fighter jet at the Hualien Airbase in southeastern Taiwan, Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022. Experts say a lot can be gleaned from what China has done, and not done, in the large-scale military exercises it held in response to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan, followed by Taiwan's own drills and Beijing announcing more maneuvers planned. (AP Photo/Johnson Lai, File)

Taiwan's government offered its condolences to China on Tuesday for the earthquake that killed at least 46 people in a southwestern province. The sign of goodwill comes after weeks of escalating tensions in the region.

In the U.S., the Biden Administration has just announced a little more than a billion dollars of new arms sales to Taiwan. It’s also been a little more than a month since Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan drew a series of reactions from mainland China.

The tension involving Taiwain reaches Hawaiʻi and the headquarters of Indo-Pacific Command. Retired Air Force Brigadier General and former U.S. diplomat David Stilwell sat down with HPR’s Bill Dorman to talk about recent events concerning Taiwan — and why he sees this as a situation that goes far beyond a confrontation between China and the United States.

Stilwell was the Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs from June 2019 through early 2021. Prior to that, he was the director of the China Strategic Focus Group at Indo-Pacific Command on Oʻahu from 2017 to 2019. He spent 35 years in the Air Force and was also the Defense Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing from 2011 to 2013. He originally entered the military as a linguist. He’s fluent in Mandarin and Korean, and speaks some Japanese. His education includes a master’s degree in Asian Studies and Chinese language from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.

This interview aired on The Conversation on Sept. 6, 2022. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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