TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — On a visit to Taiwan, a delegation of six Australian lawmakers called Tuesday for warmer relations with the self-ruled island increasingly threatened by Beijing.
The visit comes as Australia has been working at recalibrating its relationship with China, which had been tense in the past few years over disputes on the origin of COVID-19. China in response had imposed tariff barriers on several Australian exports, such as barley.
Paul Fletcher, a lawmaker with Australia’s Liberal Party, lauded the fact that the lawmaker delegation crossed party lines.
“The two major parties in Australia are both represented and we are here to further the warm relationship between Australia and Taiwan,” Fletcher said.
They also discussed strengthening economic cooperation with Taiwan, particularly in clean energy, and expressed an interest in Taiwan’s semi-conductor industry.
China claims Taiwan as part of its territory.
Taiwan, with a population of 23 million compared to China’s 1.4 billion, has never been part of the People’s Republic of China and while increasingly isolated diplomatically and threatened militarily by Beijing, has maintained an international presence separate from the mainland.
At the same time, Australia has been working to expand its security partnerships in the region with an eye on China’s presence, which has grown in the past few decades.
Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen said she was grateful for Australia’s role in regional security, citing its new partnership with the United States and the United Kingdom called AUKUS and the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue.
“In recent years, Australia has continued to play an important role in upholding peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific,” she said. “It has also used major international gatherings to emphasize the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and support Taiwan’s international participation. For this, I want to express sincere gratitude.”