US Envoy to Taiwan Vows Support for Island’s Defense, China Responds with Military Exercises

Raymond Greene, the newly appointed director of the American Institute in Taiwan, assured Taiwanese President Lai Ching-te on Wednesday that the United States would strongly support Taiwan’s defense capabilities. Greene emphasized the shared interest of both nations in maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.

The message was delivered against the backdrop of a significant display of military force by China’s People’s Liberation Army directed at Taiwan on the same day.

“First of all, and the most important thing, the U.S. will strongly support Taiwan’s self-defense capabilities,” Greene said during his meeting with President Lai. “We both have common and long-term interests in peace and stability over the Taiwan Strait.”

President Lai stated Taiwan’s commitment to preserving the status quo with Beijing, despite China’s claim of sovereignty over the island and its threat to use force if necessary to reclaim it. Taiwan is a self-ruled democracy with a population of 23 million.

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry reported detecting 36 Chinese military aircraft, including J-16 fighters and H-6 bombers, flying south and southeast of the island on Wednesday. These aircraft were heading into the Western Pacific to conduct drills with China’s Shandong aircraft carrier.

By Thursday morning, the number of Chinese warplanes detected within a 24-hour period had increased to 66. Taiwan also reported tracking seven warships around its waters.

While the U.S., like most countries, does not formally recognize Taiwan as a sovereign nation, it remains the island’s primary partner and is legally obligated to provide it with the means for self-defense. In recent weeks, the U.S. State Department authorized the sale of for an estimated $360 million.

In April, the House of Representatives approved an $8 billion military aid package for Taiwan.

“Taiwan and the U.S. are solid partners to each other who strive to maintain regional peace and stability,” President Lai said on Wednesday.

The Chinese government has not yet commented on the meeting between Greene and President Lai.

The American Institute in Taiwan operates as a de facto embassy. Similarly, Taipei maintains an Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the U.S. and comparable de facto embassies in other nations.

Since President Lai took office in May, China has escalated its military pressure on Taiwan, viewing Lai as a separatist and refusing to engage in dialogue with him.

In late June, Beijing issued threats to hunt down and . In response, Taipei advised its citizens to avoid travel to China, as well as the semi-autonomous Chinese territories of Hong Kong and Macao.