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With the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Taiwan and the United States have lost a major advocate against Chinese militarization in the Pacific.
Abe, an archconservative of Japanese politics and Japan-first nationalist opposed to Chinese expansion, had been a stalwart ally of Taiwan as threats of Chinese “reunification” loomed.
“There has been no truer friend to Taiwan. Outspoken and a firm believer in democracy, Abe took Taiwan-Japan relations to new heights,” the Taiwanese embassy in the U.S. tweeted. “With much regret, we share our deepest condolences.”
Abe championed Taiwan as a key ally to prevent Chinese aggression and expansion, routinely speaking in support of the disputed island nation’s right to self-governance.
“It’s no coincidence that, under Trump, the relationship had never been stronger between the two nations,” Hugh Dugan, a former senior director at the National Security Council (NSC) under President Trump, said. “Historians would say Abe’s career had pinnacled during the Trump Era. Abe’s cooperation and promotion of Taiwan was deftly triangulated with the growing concerns about China’s view of its opportunities with Taiwan.”
Dugan, who also served as acting special presidential envoy for hostage affairs, told Fox News Digital Abe’s support for a strengthened U.S. presence in the region “provided Trump the ability to make his successful overtures to Kim and North Korea.”
The People’s Republic of China has long claimed sovereignty over Taiwan and the Taiwan Strait, the relatively narrow strip of ocean between the island of Taiwan and the Chinese mainland. The Chinese military has frequently sent planes into the area, testing Taiwan’s air defense zone.
Japan views China’s increasingly assertive military activity in the East and South China Sea as a threat to regional stability. Tokyo is especially sensitive to Chinese activities near the disputed islands.
One day before the assassination of Abe, a People’s Republic of China official responsible for relations with Taiwan claimed a “reunification” of the two countries was approaching.
The eyebrow-raising comments were published Thursday in China’s government-run newspaper, People’s Daily.
Liu Jieyi, who heads China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, expressed expectations for China to reclaim Taiwan in the near future.
“Our growing comprehensive strength and significant institutional advantages continue to be transformed into efficiency in work related to Taiwan issues and push forward the process of national reunification,” Liu said, according to a translation by South China Morning Post.
Liu went on to threaten a violent crackdown on “Taiwan independence forces” and a stronger pushback against foreign interventions into the conflict.