Beijing's refusal to renounce use of force destabilizing: Ryan
In a speech at the Indo-Pacific Security Dialogue in Taipei, Ryan said Beijing has changed the cross-strait status quo using multiple approaches in recent years.
"Beijing has disrupted the status quo by attempting to constrict Taiwan's international space, including pressuring international corporations to refer to Taiwan as a province of China," Ryan said.
It has also enticed Taiwan's partners to sever diplomatic ties with Taiwan and increased military pressure on Taiwan, he said.
Such military coercion occurred on Monday when a number of Chinese aircraft flew through airspace separating Taiwan and the Philippines "in a maneuver that was clearly meant to intimidate Taiwan," Ryan said.
The former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, who is heading an American delegation in Taiwan here to attend events for the 40th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), said such military action should stop.
"They are irresponsible and they undermine the framework that has enabled peace and stability and development for decades. It's counterproductive," he argued.
He also took issue with Beijing's continued threat of force against Taiwan.
"It's self evident that perhaps the most destabilizing element of cross-strait relations is Beijing's refusal to renounce the use of force to achieve its goal of unification," Ryan said.
Ryan said the world is closely observing whether China can treat Taiwan "with the dignity and the respect that it deserves," stressing it is a test to prove if Beijing is "qualified to take on the leadership role internationally that it believes is befitting its size and stature."
He reiterated Washington's stance of urging China to resume peaceful dialogue with Taiwan, saying that committing to peaceful dialogue is the only acceptable way to resolve differences and "an important step for demonstrating to a skeptical world that China can lead in an aspiring and benevolent fashion."
The TRA, Ryan said, essentially equates any threat to Taiwan security with a threat to regional peace and a threat to U.S. security interests.
"In other words, the United States considers any military action, any boycott or any embargo against Taiwan to be a threat to the peace of the Western Pacific area of grave concern to the United States. That's the text of the law," he stressed.
Ryan made the comments during his keynote speech at the Indo-Pacific Security Dialogue, which focused on the TRA and Taiwan-U.S. partnership over the past four decades.
The TRA was signed in April 1979 by then U.S. President Jimmy Carter, a few months after the U.S. switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing.
It was drafted to serve as a legal basis for unofficial relations between the U.S. and Taiwan and enshrine into law the U.S.'s commitment to helping Taiwan maintain its self-defense capability.
Ryan served as the 54th House of Representatives speaker from October 2015 to January 2019. He announced in April 2018 that he would not be seeking re-election, ending a 20-year run in Congress.