The price of words is not cheap KIM PIL-GYU The author is the Washington correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo. I recently went to the National Day event hosted by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Washington. It was held at the old house called Twin Oaks, which was the ambassador’s residence of the Republic of China for 40 years after 1937. But it has been less than 10 years since the Taiwanese flag was last hoisted, after being removed due to the breakdown of diplomatic relations with the United States. Taiwan representative Hsiao Bi-khim’s speech to the U.S. Congress and embassy officials from various countries at the event was quite serious. She said that the threats and harassment in Taiwan have increased in recent years, and Taiwan would not give in. She added that the international community will be stabilized only when Taiwan is stabilized. Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, responded by emphasizing that protecting Taiwan is crucial to U.S. security and economic interests. He shouted in English and Chinese, “I love Taiwan.” This gesture felt particularly exaggerated because of the removal of House speaker Kevin McCarthy not long ago. Hardline Republicans’ pressure resulted in the slashing of Ukraine aids from the temporary budget along with the ousting of the House speaker, third in the line of power in the U.S. As the voices for isolationism grew, opposing assistance to Ukraine became the “Republican standard,” as the New York Times called it. Now, no matter how the U.S. president emphasizes “continued support” for Ukraine, no one believes it. A Taiwanese person I met at the event said that this “shook the faith of the Taiwanese people.” They believed that if China invaded Taiwan, it would be able to defend against China as long as it held up well in the beginning, but after watching the Congress deal with Ukraine, they changed their minds. Political media Politico cynically analyzed it as “Talk is cheap.” Former U.S. Representative to Taiwan Douglas Paal advised that though Congress shows bipartisan antagonism towards China for now, Taiwan should not rely on a few reassurances when the Congress is in a mess. Many declarations and agreements came between South Korea and the U.S. through summits, including at Camp David. While both countries gave generous assessments on the alliance, no one knows what Congress or the White House will say after next year’s presidential election. In a poll by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs on Oct. 4, only 50 percent of the respondents supported sending U.S. troops if North Korea invaded South Korea. Only two years ago, the share was 63 percent. If we believe the price of words is not cheap, the fear Taiwan feels now can fall on Korea at any time.

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