Taiwan Relations Act
Does China really pose a threat to Taiwan?
RICHARD A. BITZINGER
OCTOBER 16, 201
A colleague of mine loves to point out that I am constantly saying, “Back in the Nineties…” In other words, I am always commenting on current events by referencing incidents and aftereffects that took place more than 20 years ago.
I guess that is just the occupational hazard of growing older. On the other hand, memory and experience help to put modern happenings into perspective. And lately, we seem to be revisiting an Asian security problem that many probably thought was long dead and buried: a Chinese invasion of Taiwan.
Sorry, I can’t help it, but…back in the Nineties, the Chinese threat to Taiwan was perhaps the paramount security concern in East Asia. A war between China and Taiwan was considered to be the most likely military clash at that time, and it was the basis for most anxieties when it came to regional peace and stability. Consequently, tensions across the Taiwan Straits were the source of most of the strains between Washington and Beijing at the time.
And then, much of this concern disappeared. In part, because Beijing and Taipei have gradually moved closer to each other, politically, economically and culturally. Twenty-five years ago, one couldn’t mail a letter directly from Taiwan to China; today, there are nonstop flights between Taiwan and the mainland.
More importantly, perhaps, other regional security concerns have pushed the Taiwan Straits issue out of the limelight. North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and territorial spats in the East and South China Seas have pushed the China-Taiwan issue to the backburner.
In particular, China’s rising great-power ambitions – paired with its growing military strength – is today more felt elsewhere and by more nations. China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea, as marked by its aggressive (and illegal) island-building program and its growing presence in the Indian Ocean region (bolstered by its “One Belt, One Road” initiative), has made the country a much broader challenge to the security status quo in the Indo-Pacific. China-Taiwan tensions seem almost quaint in comparison.
Concerns over a potential cross-straits conflict may be roaring back
What a difference a day (or two decades) makes
Now, concerns over a potential cross-straits conflict may be roaring back. Ian Easton, a researcher at the Project 2049 Institute (a think-tank in Washington DC that studies Asian security and development), has written a new book, The Chinese Invasion Threat. In this book, he argues that China has never abandoned its plans for attacking Taiwan, should it feel this necessary to achieving eventual “reunification” with the mainland. In particular, Easton was able to acquire and translate leaked Chinese classified papers (such as internally restricted, or <em>neibu</em>, documents) and piece together Beijing plans for an invasion of Taiwan.
Easton’s scenario for invasion? Actually, it is very close to one that I speculated about in a report I coauthored 20 years ago, back when I was working for the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. Basically, China would likely begin with a naval and air blockade of Taiwan, followed up by missile strikes on key island infrastructures, including airfields, ports, command and control centers, etc. (for this reason, China has stationed up to 1,500 short- and medium-range ballistic missiles in Fujian province, directly across the straits from Taiwan). A new wrinkle on the 1990s-era invasion scenario entails the use nontraditional attacks, such cyber-strikes and electronic warfare designed to take out Taiwan’s computer, early-warning, and communications networks, as well as psychological warfare conducted against the Taiwanese people.
China might also decide to occupy the Kinmen and Matsu islands, which lie only kilometers from the mainland. Lastly, China might attempt a full-scale amphibious and air invasion of the island of Taiwan itself. Such an invasion, as Easton points out, would be highly risky. It could involve up to a million soldiers and would take weeks, if not months, to plan, giving away the element of surprise. Taiwanese airbases would be particularly hard to neutralize, as some are built right into the sides of mountains.
Upsetting the regional security applecart
But Easton also notes that should a mainland invasion and occupation of Taiwan be successful, it would be devastating to the current regional security balance. The United States would lose a democratic state and a valuable outpost in the far western Pacific. Taiwan is a major source of signals intelligence, which is shared with Washington, and US forces would likely use the island as a forward operating base in extreme situations.
The impact on the rest of East Asia would be just as severe, particularly for Japan. An article published on the website Slate cites a line that Easton found in a restricted Chinese report: “As soon as Taiwan is reunified with mainland China, Japan’s maritime lines of communication will fall completely within the striking range of China’s fighters and bombers.” Additionally, Chinese access to airbases and naval facilities on Taiwan would shore up Beijing’s ability to tighten its hold over the South China Sea.
Everything old is new again
Of course, most experts, including Easton, do not believe China will be invading Taiwan anytime soon. The risks are huge, and the consequences of failure would be devastating should China be unable to achieve its goals. Nevertheless, Easton’s book shows that cross-straits relations remain tenuous and that war is not a shelved option. Easton’s solution, in part, is for the United States to step up its arms sales to Taiwan and to remind Beijing of its enduring commitment to a peaceful resolution of the China-Taiwan situation.
Again, these are not new arguments, and it is a tad sad – and perhaps ironic – that they must be restated here in the second decade of the 21st century. Dean Acheson, the late US president Harry Truman’s secretary of state, once said that “foreign policy is one damn thing after another.” Decades later, another secretary of state, George Shultz, supposedly upon hearing this statement, responded by saying, “No, it’s the same damn thing after another.”Asia Times is not responsible for the opinions, facts or any media content presented by contributors. In case of abuse, click here to report.SECURITY TAIWAN GEOPOLITICS DIPLOMACY CR
Tsai responds to Xi’s speech, reiterates cross-strait stance
The Presidential Office says it hopes to peacefully resolve cross-strait differences through positive cross-strait exchanges.
During a speech Wednesday at the 19th Communist Party congress, Chinese President Xi Jinping reiterated Beijing’s opposition to Taiwan independence and its insistence on the One China Policy as the basis for cross-strait ties.
The Presidential Office responded to Xi’s address, saying that Taiwan is committed to maintaining peaceful cross-strait relations. Presidential Office spokesperson Sidney Lin spoke on the president’s stance.
"Maintaining cross-strait peace and stability and protecting the interests of the people is the responsibility and aim of both sides of the strait. President Tsai stresses that “Our goodwill has not changed. Our commitment has not changed. We will not go back to a path of opposition but will not yield under pressure”. This has been our principle in dealing with cross-strait relations," Lin said.
The president also believes that the leaders of the two sides of the strait should work together and use the political wisdom accumulated throughout the years to find a new mode of interaction across the strait.
The Mainland Affairs Council also responded to President Xi’s speech. The council expressed regret at Beijing’s policies towards Taiwan, including putting pressure on Taiwan’s international space. The council also said that Taiwan’s 23 million people have a right to determine their own future. The council said Beijing should take a new, healthy approach to cross-strait ties and become a true protector of cross-strait and regional peace.
US State Dept. encourages constructive cross-strait dialogue
October 11, 2017
The US State Department says it continues to encourage constructive cross-strait dialogue. That’s according to Grace Choi, a spokesperson for the State Department’s East Asian and Pacific Affairs Bureau.
Choi was speaking with a reporter for Taiwan’s Central News Agency Tuesday. She was responding to a question about Washington’s take on President Tsai Ing-wen’s National Day address.
In her remarks on cross-strait ties, Tsai called on leaders from both sides to work together and search for a new mode of cross-strait interaction. Tsai also said Taiwan will uphold the cross-strait status quo. She said that Taiwan will not bring cross-strait ties back to a hostile state, but that it will not give in to cross-strait pressure either.
Choi said the US continues to urge Taipei and Beijing to develop patience, flexibility, and creativity in their interactions. Choi said the US maintains its One China Policy and that cross-strait peace and stability are in the United States’ interests.
Chinese leader might set deadline for Taiwan resolution: AIT ex-chairman
Xi could toughen up traditional Chinese stances on Taiwan: Richard Bush
By Matthew Strong,Taiwan News, Staff Writer
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) might take a tougher line on Taiwan at this month’s 19th Congress of the Communist Party and set a deadline for what Beijing calls "the resolution of disputes with Taiwan," according to former American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Chairman Richard C. Bush.
The former head of the United States representative office in Taipei now serves as co-director of the Center for East Asia Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution.
In a blog post titled “What will Xi Jinping say about Taiwan at the 19th Party Congress?,” Bush said the Chinese leader might introduce new elements in the country’s position on Taiwan, such as a deadline for a solution to what Beijing sees as “the Taiwan issue.”
“One possibility here is conveying a sense of urgency about resolving the dispute with Taiwan or even setting a deadline,” Bush wrote.
The words would not be entirely new or original, since President Jiang Zemin said in 2002 that “the disagreement couldn’t go on indefinitely” and Xi himself told former Vice President Vincent Siew in 2013 that “settling the dispute could not be postponed from generation to generation,” according to the veteran U.S. diplomat’s blog post.
Bush said it would be unwelcome if Xi adapted some of his predecessors’ statements on Taiwan to make them tougher, such as leaving out the principle of “peaceful reunification.”
“To abandon hope in the Taiwan people would suggest that China is going to rely on its own growing power and its own efforts, which suggests it would be willing to impose a solution rather than negotiate one on a mutually acceptable basis,” Bush wrote.
Xi is completely unlikely to acknowledge that Beijing’s policies and principles on Taiwan are highly unpopular on the island itself, he added.
The former AIT chairman’s comments come shortly after the wide attention given in Taiwan to the book “The Chinese Invasion Threat” by Project 2049 Institute research fellow Ian Easton, in which he discusses the possibility of a Chinese military takeover attempt in 2020.
Vatican pledges to be Taiwan’s committed partner
October 6, 2017
The Vatican has promised to continue to be Taiwan’s “committed partner.” That’s the word from Bishop Paul Gallagher on Thursday.
Gallagher is the Secretary for Relations with States within the Holy See’s Secretariat of State. He made the statement while attending Taiwan’s National Day celebrations in the Holy See.
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two sides.
Over the past few years, there have been rumors that the Vatican could cut ties with Taiwan to recognize China. Earlier, a retired cardinal in Hong Kong, Joseph Zen, said Taiwan must prepare for the severance as the Vatican has already reached an agreement with China.
But Gallagher assured the Taiwanese ambassador at the event that the Vatican will continue to be Taiwan’s “committed partner.” Gallagher said the Holy See supports any plans that promote dialogue and pragmatic ties. The bishop also said friendship and cooperation between the two sides have remained unchanged since 1942.
CHINESE BOMBER FLIGHTS AROUND TAIWAN: FOR WHAT PURPOSE?
NATHAN BEAUCHAMP-MUSTAFAGA, DEREK GROSSMAN AND LOGAN MA
SEPTEMBER 13, 2017
After conducting two strategic bomber flights around Taiwan in late 2016, Beijing in the last two months has significantly stepped up its operational tempo with at least another five flights circumnavigating the island, the latest of which occurred on Aug. 12. An easy explanation for this unprecedented display of military force is that China is more routinely employing the Xian H-6K long-range bomber to ratchet up pressure on Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen due to her refusal to acknowledge the “1992 Consensus.” The consensus is allegedly an agreement on “One China,” but has differing interpretations in China and Taiwan. This view, however, is overly simplistic. Coercing Taiwan was likely an important part of Beijing’s calculus, but the core objective appears to be strengthening the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) conventional strategic deterrence. China seeks to enhance the People’s Liberation Army Air Force’s (PLAAF) capabilities and signal Beijing’s will to defend its territorial claims against the U.S. and its regional allies and partners, especially Taiwan and Japan.
A Feature, Not a Bug
Chinese bomber activities throughout the region — numbering at least 22 separate H-6K aircraft flights since March 2015, according to our estimate — are the latest manifestation of top leaders’ longstanding efforts to enhance the PLAAF’s airpower capabilities. The ultimate goal is to deter U.S. intervention in a regional conflict. In 1999, then-President Jiang Zemin instructed the PLAAF to “prepare to struggle to build a powerful, modernized air force that is simultaneously prepared for offensive and defensive operations,” giving the service an offensive strike mission. Five years later, the PLAAF officially incorporated this guidance into its first strategic concept document, with an added emphasis on the need to integrate aerospace forces to carry out operations in accordance with Beijing’s strategic goals. During a visit to PLAAF headquarters in April 2014, Chinese President Xi Jinping endorsed the PLAAF’s vision to become a “strategic air force,” and that same month PLAAF commander Ma Xiaotian gave an important speechcalling for the service to take a more active role in maritime security. In February 2015, Xi visited the 36th Bomber Division in Shaanxi Province. Images released afterwards by state media depicted Xi sitting in the cockpit of an H-6K bomber. Bomber flights commenced the following month.
The PLAAF has responded by conducting longer-ranging and increasingly complex over-water air combat operations. Before it started circumnavigating Taiwan, the PLAAF concentrated on achieving the major milestone of breaking through the First Island Chain into the Western Pacific. It did this several times, through both the Miyako Strait (between Okinawa and Taiwan) and the Bashi Channel (between Taiwan and the Philippines). Building on this momentum, the PLAAF conducted several bomber flights in 2016 — labeled “combat air patrols” — over disputed features in the South China Sea, including Fiery Cross Reef, Scarborough Shoal, Mischief Reef, and Woody Island. Other bomber flights have been touted in Chinese defense circles as enhancing PLAAF coordination with the PLA Navy — another major milestone underscoring an increasingly joint Chinese military.
Recent bomber flights around Taiwan represent the most concerted training regimen yet aimed at improving Chinese airpower. Indeed, the operational tempo of these summer flights near Taiwan is unprecedented, with at least seven flights since July 13 alone (see table below). Moreover, the flights in November and December 2016 appear to have incorporated at least six different types of supporting aircraft, including intelligence/reconnaissance, early warning, fighter, and electronic warfare aircraft. These bomber flights provide important operational training for PLAAF crewson a range of skills that can only be cultivated in this combat-realistic situation, such as pilot endurance for distance flights (at 10 hours, flights to the South China Sea likely push the H-6K’s limits), varying weather conditions over water, navigational challenges, interaction with foreign aircraft (Japanese and Taiwan fighter jets intercept flights near their airspace), and signals intelligence collection.
Remarking on the operational benefit for the PLAAF from such flights, Alexander Huang, Chairman of Taiwan’s Council on Strategic & Wargaming Studies said, “China is not only applying pressure on Taiwan but is also checking the reaction of the Taiwanese air force’s aircraft and radar.” This is supported by the fact that PLAAF Y-8 EW aircraft circumnavigated Taiwan four times in August, which could help China learn more about Taiwan’s east coast defenses. Huang added that the flights are “also intended to continuously show [China’s] power to the United States and Japan,” and other Taiwanese analysts further suggested China views eastern Taiwan as the focal point for stopping U.S. intervention.
As the decadeslong effort to enhance China’s airpower shows, bomber flights cannot be seen solely as a response to recent Taiwanese behavior. Their longer-term goal is to display China’s capabiilities and resolve. Some of the flights in 2015, for example, traversed through Beijing’s East China Sea air defense identification zone (ADIZ). Announced by Beijing in 2013, this ADIZ originated as a response to the ongoing row with Japan over control of the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands. Shortly after the bomber flight in November 2015, a Chinese military commentator noted that “we are not only able to safeguard the East China Sea ADIZ, but also able to fly beyond the First Island Chain.” Last month, China’s Ministry of National Defense doubled-down on bomber flights near Japanese airspace by stating that they were indeed “legal and proper,” and for an extra touch added that “[Japan] will feel better after getting used to such drills.”
Similarly, in the South China Sea, PLAAF combat air patrols in the summer of 2016 were largely in response to the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s ruling against Beijing. According to the main commentator on PLAAF activities in the South China Sea, these combat air patrols enabled Beijing to deter or strike “large formations” in the water that were “provoking China.” The PLAAF has also slowly regularized flights through the South China Sea and into the Pacific Ocean to signal strategic resolve to defend its claims against the United States in the region.
Resolve to Taipei and Washington
China’s Ministry of National Defense has not made explicit reference to the fact that its bombers have flown around Taiwan, and recently downplayed such flights as “routine training.” However, one can infer that flights on the eastern side of the island serve as another challenge to the entry of U.S. forces into a potential China-Taiwan conflict. Beijing clearly intends to make it difficult for Washington to save Taiwan: The PLAAF can conduct maritime strikes against oncoming U.S. naval forces, as well as launch the CJ-10 long-range land attack cruise missile at standoff distance against U.S. forces as far away as Guam. Indeed, Dean Cheng wrote in War on the Rocks in 2015 that bomber flights in the Pacific should be a “wake-up call” to U.S. military planners. This warning, though written before the PLAAF had conducted any flights around Taiwan, is more salient today than ever, since China’s ability to operate off Taiwan’s eastern shores gives it additional geographic advantages against Guam. Moreover, these flights suggest the PLA assumes it will be able to establish air dominance over or even past Taiwan in a conflict, or use international airspace to get past Taiwan for a first strike against regional targets.
Finally, Beijing’s decision to fly bombers near or around Taiwan is undoubtedly also aimed at Taiwan itself — meant to coerce and embarrass the Tsai administration. China has already sought to punish Tsai for refusing to recognize the 1992 Consensus by stealing Taiwan’s diplomatic allies, employing “united front” tactics to drive a wedge between the Taiwanese people and Tsai, and restricting mainland tourism to the island to harm the economy. Now, with bomber flights, Beijing probably believes it is adding another critical pressure point to the Tsai administration. The psychological impact of these activities is only magnified when the PLA employs other new assets at its disposal, such as when Beijing sent its new carrier, the Liaoning, through the strait the day before one of the bomber flights in July.
Sources: Japanese Ministry of Defense, Taiwan Ministry of National Defense, PLAAF Weibo. *Taipei Times suggests there was a H-6 flight near Taiwan on August 5th, but we are unable to confirm this event.
These flights have led to a public messaging contest between Beijing and Taipei. To drive home its ability to fly around Taiwan at will, the PLAAF has on many occasions used its Weibo account to share photos of its H-6K bombers allegedly flying within visible range of Taiwan’s Jade Mountain. The photos send a message both to the Chinese public, to display the fruits of Xi’s military modernization, and to Taiwan’s citizens, to highlight the inability of their government to stop such flights. Taiwanese media also reported on a possible effort by China to weaken Taiwan’s will through psychological warfare. When two H-6Ks entered Taiwan’s ADIZ during the July 20 flight, the Chinese pilots said they and the Taiwanese were the “same people,” an illustration of Chinese claims to Taiwan. The Taiwanese government denied the incident.
In an attempt to reassure its public, the Taiwan Ministry of National Defense released a photo after the second bomber flight in July purportedly showing an Indigenous Defense Fighter intercepting an H-6K. The fighter was carrying what was later revealed to be a training missile. The Ministry also said, “Taiwan is not going to take any action that could start a war with China, but it is also not going to back down from any threats,” adding that if Chinese aircraft violate Taiwan’s ADIZ again “the nation would safeguard its airspace and marine areas based on its rules of engagement for emergency situations in wartime.” On the same day, the Taiwan Air Force also posted a video showing its fighters conducting training on a shortened runway, a message to China that bomber strikes would not be enough to force Taiwan’s capitulation.
Taiwanese commentary portrayed the flights as part of China’s campaign of pressure against the island as well as part of the larger U.S.-Chinese military competition in Asia. One expert framed the flights against the backdrop of Xi’s upcoming 19th Party Congress, where he is expected to further consolidate power and thus must ensure no disruptions by Taiwan: “China had to use its military force to show it means business when telling Taiwan not to push its limits and do anything provocative.” Like North Korea, Beijing is leveraging the technical demands for testing its military programs for their full political advantage. In this case, restraining Taiwan’s ability to act as spoiler before Xi’s big day is the short-term political benefit flowing from the practical need to train its bomber crews in service of the long-term goal of improving the PLAAF’s ability to conduct conventional strategic deterrence.
Wanted: A Regional Response
PLAAF strategic thinkers have apparently taken a cue from America’s and Russia’s recent employment of bombers for strategic signaling purposes. Beijing has cited international law and norms to justify its new flights, echoing U.S. freedom of navigation, but with Chinese characteristics. One of the key concerns is whether Beijing will abide by high standards of professionalism during these operations, as Chinese pilots reportedly still occasionally fail to complywith U.S.-China agreements for air-to-air encounters. Chinese bomber pilots have discussed being intercepted by foreign aircraft, unnamed but possibly from the United States, on flights in the South China Sea and the Western Pacific, so the potential for miscalculation and inadvertent escalation is real.
To prevent such an undesirable outcome, the United States and its partners could flag concern over the bomber flights in military-to-military dialogues with Chinese interlocutors. In particular, Washington might gain the most traction by working with partners in the region to adopt their own versions of the U.S.-China September 2015 air-to-air encounters annex under the bilateral Rules of Behavior for Safety of Air and Maritime Encounters. Though negotiations between Beijing and Tokyo for a similar mechanism have been ongoing since 2012, they have not reached a formal agreement and there are no indications of progress with other countries.
The United States could also work with allies and partners to devise a strategy for dealing with these provocations. One effective means of discouraging flights could be to conduct joint intercepts with Japan (doing so with Taiwan would be fraught with difficulties due to political sensitivities) to reduce the provocative nature of Chinese bomber flights. Another might be to enhance transparency about the flights. Only Japan consistently releases details about Chinese flights, and according to one report, Taiwan underreports them. A public accounting of PLAAF activity would reduce the shock and awe factor, demonstrate governments’ commitment to addressing the flights, and improve public awareness of assertive Chinese behavior in the region.
Regardless, Beijing believes it has much to gain by continuing these flights, specifically in the areas of training and signaling resolve vis-à-vis the United States and Japan, as a way of defending territorial claims. Therefore, we assess that PLAAF bomber flights are almost certain to continue and perhaps even ramp up. Indeed, in July, PLAAF spokesperson Shen Jinke said, “no matter what obstruction we encounter… no matter who flies up to meet us, the Chinese Air Force will still go and conduct many flights.” Going forward, the key objective should be to determine how the United States and Asian partners might mitigate the negative effects of Chinese bomber flights, rather than attempting to stop them in the first place.
Nathan Beauchamp-Mustafaga is a Policy Analyst, Derek Grossman is a senior defense analyst, and Logan Ma is a research assistant at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation.
15 allies speak up for Taiwan at UN
The foreign ministry says that 15 of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies spoke on Taiwan’s behalf at this year’s UN General Assembly.
This year’s meeting took place from September 19-25. Taiwan has diplomatic relations with 20 nations. The foreign ministry said the government asked all but the Vatican for words of support during the assembly.
Foreign ministry spokesperson Eleanor Wang said Tuesday that Taiwan’s allies made three demands. They called on the UN to stop excluding Taiwan from UN-affiliated organizations and to drop discriminatory policies against Taiwanese nationals trying to visit the UN or attend UN meetings. They also called on the UN to include Taiwan in meetings related to its sustainable development goals.
Wang said the foreign ministry is still waiting to see whether the four allies who did not mention Taiwan in their remarks will express their support in other ways.
US reaffirms its One China policy
The United States will continue to stand by its One China policy. That’s according to Grace Choi, spokesperson for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs in the US Department of State.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, Taiwan’s premier, William Lai, said that Taiwan is a sovereign state and that it does not fall under Mainland China’s administration.
In an email response to Taiwanese reporters’ questions on Thursday, Choi said the United States stands by its One China policy and will continue to honor its agreements with both Beijing and Taipei. Choi also said the US encourages the two sides of the Taiwan Strait to seek peaceful solutions to their differences.
Lai said Thursday that he is not surprised by the US standing by its position. He said that it is important to look at cross-strait relations with a broader scope, and that both he and President Tsai will continue to work hard to promote cross-strait peace and stability.
Washington’s One China recognizes the People’s Republic of China as the one and only official Chinese government. It does not however recognize Taiwan as part of China. This makes the policy distinct from Beijing’s One China principle, which claims Taiwan as part of China.
Premier reiterates position on Taiwan’s sovereignty
September 27, 2017
Premier William Lai has reiterated his position on Taiwan’s sovereignty.
At the Legislature on Tuesday Lai said that Taiwan is a sovereign and independent country whose name is the Republic of China. Lai said that there is no affiliation between Taiwan and mainland China. On Wednesday Lai repeated his position on Wednesday.
“The official name for Taiwan is the Republic of China. We have a population of 23 million and our land spans across an area of 36,000 square kilometers. We elect our own president, lawmakers, and mayors. Our people pay taxes and our government has its own public funds. Whichever way you slice it, Taiwan is an independent sovereignty, and its name is the Republic of China. We hope that all nations will understand and respect that fact,” said Lai.
The head of the Mainland Affairs Council, Katharine Chang, later commented on Lai’s statement. She said the statement is in line with Taiwan’s cross-strait policy. Chang also said that she hopes there are more cross-strait exchanges so long as both sides treat one another with equal respect.
International Environmental Partnership Conference kicks off in Taipei
September 25, 2017
The 2017 International Environmental Partnership Conference kicked off in Taipei on Monday. Officials from the US, the UK, Germany, the EU, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Singapore have come to share their innovative approaches to environmental issues.
Taiwan’s Environmental Protection Administration (EPA), the foreign ministry and the United States’ EPA launched the International Environmental Partnership (IEP) in 2014. The partnership allowed Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy nations, which include those in Southeast Asia, South Asia, Australia and New Zealand, and other nations to come together and strive for a better global environment.
EPA Minister Lee Ying-yuan said this cooperation has enabled Taiwan to share its experience in mercury pollution prevention and electronic waste recycling management with New Southbound policy nations. The government also has plans to share its environmental protection auditing practices with the US, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Meanwhile, President Tsai Ing-wen said she hopes Taiwan becomes a circular economy. That means it should turn waste into renewable resources.
Deputy director of the American Institute in Taiwan, Robert Forden was also at the conference. Forden said the US is seeking bilateral cooperation with Taiwan in this area.
"Taiwan has many distinguished business leaders and scientists who are proponents of the concept of the circular economy and the benefits it can bring. So in the future, we look forward to even greater exchanges between the the United States and Taiwan, not just between our two Environmental Protection Agencies, but also between our businesses," said Forden.
US Senate passes bill on military exchanges with Taiwan
September 19, 2017
The US Senate on Monday approved a US$640 billion defense spending bill that includes a requirement for an assessment report on enhanced military exchanges between the United States and Taiwan.
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2018 cleared the Senate in a vote 89-8. That’s after the House of Representatives passed another version of the same bill in July.
According to US legislative regulations, the two houses of Congress have to coordinate on their respective versions and come up with a single bill. The final version of the bill will then have to be signed by President Donald Trump before it can take effect.
Regarding Taiwan issues, the Senate version of the bill states that it is "the sense of Congress" that the US should strengthen its longstanding partnership and strategic cooperation with Taiwan.
Cabinet lists 72 pieces of priority legislation
By Justin Su, Ku Chuan and Y.F. Low
Taipei, Sept. 18 (CNA) The Cabinet has singled out 72 pieces of priority legislation that it hopes will clear the Legislative Yuan during the legislative session that starts on Sept. 22, Cabinet spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) said Monday.
On top of the list is the government's budget proposal for 2018, which includes a plan to raise the salaries of civil servants, military personnel and public school teachers by 3 percent, Hsu said. Bills on tax reform will be submitted to the Legislature as soon as they are approved by the Cabinet, once an ongoing review ends on Oct. 6, he said.
Other legislation on the list includes proposed amendments of work rules, pension reform, rules governing visits to China by serving and former civil servants as well as draft laws on information security management, the recruitment and employment of foreign professionals and transitional justice, he said.
Taiwan's New Premier May Be Key In Gaining 'Affinity' With Estranged Neighbor China
Ralph Jennings , CONTRIBUTOR
Sep 8, 2017
Taiwan’s new premier shook people up back in June with the idea to “feel affinity toward China, love Taiwan.” The then-mayor of a major southern city also claimed that his ruling Democratic Progressive Party have the confidence to talk with China, despite the long-standing dispute between the two nations. Against the criticism at home that followed, Lai has played down the “affinity” comment and underlined his view that Taiwan should be independent from China politically, but he will now be thrust into the spotlight once again as Taiwan's new premier.
China claims sovereignty over Taiwan despite seven decades of self-rule and insists the two sides eventually unite, by use of force if needed. Most Taiwanese say in polls they prefer at least today’s level of autonomy and hope the two sides can still talk and do business.
Route To The Top
A premier in Taiwan doesn’t usually formulate policy on China or other external relations. That job falls to the president. Lai's job as premier will now be to oversee the business of a few dozen government ministries. But premiers here get such regular television coverage that the Taiwanese public quickly gets to know them, and that exposure puts premiers, who are appointed by the president, in good positions to run later for political posts.
Former premier Wu Den-yih, for example, became chief of the opposition Nationalist Party this year. Today's president, Tsai Ing-wen, was a vice premier in 2007 and later chair of her party. Lai comes from political office anyway, so a return to some elected position would be natural.
China will be able to keep a close eye on Lai as local news outlets ask him about heady government decisions on issues such as tax reform and infrastructure spending. Even if he doesn’t say much about China – a couple of his departments would be more likely to do that – the Communist government will almost certainly monitor his talk and walk to see whether they could work with him someday. The Harvard University-educated public health scholar's TV appearances to date portray him as a cautiously worded politician who cracks the occasional joke.
Watch And Learn
Beijing of course will watch for any signs of “affinity toward China” solidifying into a course of action that Lai might follow in a future political role. Lai has told local media he didn’t plan the affinity statement, he just came up with it when a city councilor was badgering him about his presumed anti-China views. But he consecrated the concept during a June 17 speech to Taiwanese businesses in the United States. “When facing China, we should…approach them with friendly hands, as long as we can maintain the subjectivity of Taiwan,” Lai said then.
In the same speech he flamed China for squelching Taiwan’s U.N. participation goals and for forming diplomatic relations with Panama in June after it stopped recognizing Taiwan. Taiwanese citizens resent Chinese pressure against their international space. China may want Lai someday, if in higher office, to propose conditions for dialogue. The president, Tsai Ing-wen, rejects Beijing’s prerequisite that each side see itself as part of a single China but has come up with no alternative that China accepts. Beijing also won't like Lai's support for Taiwanese independence, the opposite of its unification goal. "Mr. Lai is leaning more toward independence than Tsai Ing-wen," says Raymond Wu, managing director with Taipei-based political risk consultancy e-telligence.
His talk about affinity to China has slowed to a crawl at best since the spate of publicity in June, but Beijing will follow his progress closely nonetheless.
Cabinet to focus on economy, security, culture: Lai
By Chen Wei-han / Staff reporter
September 11, 2017
Economic, public security and cultural policies should be the government’s priorities, Premier William Lai (賴清德) said yesterday as he paid separate visits to former premiers Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and Yu Shyi-kun to seek advice on running an administration.
After a closed meeting with Su in Taipei, Lai said Su told him that the priorities of the new Cabinet should be economic development and public security.
“The government has to do everything it can to develop the economy and it has to listen to advice to give people a good quality of life,” Lai quoted Su as saying.
The priority for law enforcement is to crack down on drugs, Lai said, adding that Su shared his experience of combating drug trafficking during his premiership and when he was Taipei County commissioner.
Su told him that, as the head of the Cabinet, the premier has to set goals and show resolve while monitoring the government’s performance at all times, Lai said.
“I am glad for the country that President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) had the vision to tap Lai as the premier,” Su said. “Lai’s achievements, determination and performance are widely recognized and I expect the new premier to put his skills to use leading the country.”
Yu said his suggestions were of limited use to Lai as he has left the office 12 years ago, adding that he had confidence in Lai, who has all-round experience in the legislature and in governance.
Having previously urged Lai to run for New Taipei City mayor in next year’s municipal elections, Yu said he made the suggestion because Lai was a worthy candidate and he did not know the president had selected him to lead the Cabinet.
“Some media took the opportunity and claimed that I was holding him back from taking over the Cabinet. It was absolutely untrue,” Yu said.
Lai said Yu told him to prioritize economic development and cultural policy.
Yu told him to make economic development his top priority and to personally chair various economic meetings to display the government’s determination to boost the economy, Lai said.
He said Yu also told him to attach importance to cultural policies to highlight Taiwanese identity.
The Cabinet has to set clear goals for the administration and make sure the public understands those goals, and the Cabinet has to learn to keep up with industrial trends, Lai quoted Yu as saying.
Lai said he would like to seek advice from former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) premiers if he would have the chance.
Lai is to pay visits to the different legislative caucuses today to seek support from lawmakers, as is traditional Cabinet practice, Executive Yuan spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) said yesterday.
Although most of former premier Lin Chuan’s (林全) Cabinet officials are staying on, the Cabinet reshuffle is not a minor restructuring, Hsu said, adding that the three top Cabinet officials — the premier, vice premier and Executive Yuan secretary-general — have been replaced.
Hsu disputed criticism that it was Tsai instead of Lai that had controlled the Cabinet appointments.
All Cabinet members were selected by Lai himself, Hsu said.
Tsai and Lai have several channels at their disposal to communicate about affairs of government, but routine weekly meetings as were held between Tsai and Lin might not continue, Hsu said.
Taiwan's new premier vows to 'build country', scrap investment hurdles
September 8, 2017
Jess Macy Yu
TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan’s new premier, William Lai, vowed on Friday to work towards luring greater investment to the self-ruled island, while sticking to the policies of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party.
Lai, formerly the mayor of the southwestern city of Tainan, made the remarks at a cabinet transition ceremony following the resignation this week of his predecessor, Lin Chuan..
The cabinet reshuffle, at a time of low public approval ratings for President Tsai Ing-wen, will give the government an opportunity to push through legislation with less resistance.
Ratings for Tsai shrank to below 30 percent by August, a survey by a private foundation showed, down from nearly 70 percent soon after her landslide election victory in 2016.
“My main responsibility is to build the country, expand the economy and look after the people,” said Lai, adding that his cabinet would press on with reforms in areas ranging from the energy industry to labor, pensions and tax, while “eliminating obstacles for investment”.
He added, “these will have a pragmatic strategy and will be solved in a steadfast way.”
Dissatisfaction with labor and pension reforms are seen to have weighed on Tsai’s ratings, sparking occasional protests.
The reshuffle brought several new key appointments, though most of the other ministry-level positions stayed unchanged.
The financial supervisory commission gets a new chief, Wellington Koo, while acting economics minister Shen Jong-chin was confirmed in the role.
A new vice premier and secretary-general were also appointed to the cabinet, or executive yuan.
Lai, a member of Tsai’s independence-leaning party, won a landslide reelection in 2014 in Tainan, home to the plants of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) and other technology firms.
The Harvard-educated Lai is expected to take a cautious stance in the transition, as shown by his modest personnel changes, analysts say.
“Lai brings an effective administrative style, and will seek to keep the agenda on track,” said Edward Yang, an associate professor at National Taiwan Normal University.
His popular style also contrasts with that of Lin, who was seen as a less effective communicator, Yang added.
The DPP is striving to shore up its popularity ahead of local elections next year in which it faces off against its main rival, the China-friendly Kuomintang (KMT) party.
Local election results are seen as a harbinger for the presidential election in 2020.
Outgoing premier Lin leads Cabinet in resignation
The outgoing premier, Lin Chuan, led the Cabinet in an en masse resignation following their last meeting on Thursday. Lin had served as premier since May last year.
Lin said he had used his tenure to effect a smooth transfer of power and meet the administrative goals set by President Tsai Ing-wen.
Lin listed some accomplishments from his time in office. These include lowering the unemployment rate, completing the policy for the “5+2 Industrial Innovation Plan”, promoting the Forward-looking Infrastructure plan, raising the minimum wage, and revise and pass the funding policy for the administration’s long-term care program. Lin said he believes that his outgoing team was able to turn in a good report card despite many criticisms and misunderstandings.
Lin calls for his colleagues to continue to do their best and not to be affected by criticism.
“All the administrative tasks will be moving on to the next stage. Some of you will be leaving, others will be staying on," said Lin. "I strongly believe that as long as your work is to help the country transform and move forward, we don’t have to worry about the criticism and misunderstanding out there. We should just give our best and continue to work hard towards changing and transforming our nation.”
Lin thanked his staff for their efforts and said time will prove that their hard work over the past year has been worthwhile.
Outgoing premier Lin leads Cabinet in resignation
The outgoing premier, Lin Chuan, led the Cabinet in an en masse resignation following their last meeting on Thursday. Lin had served as premier since May last year.
Lin said he had used his tenure to effect a smooth transfer of power and meet the administrative goals set by President Tsai Ing-wen.
Lin listed some accomplishments from his time in office. These include lowering the unemployment rate, completing the policy for the “5+2 Industrial Innovation Plan”, promoting the Forward-looking Infrastructure plan, raising the minimum wage, and revise and pass the funding policy for the administration’s long-term care program. Lin said he believes that his outgoing team was able to turn in a good report card despite many criticisms and misunderstandings.
Lin calls for his colleagues to continue to do their best and not to be affected by criticism.
“All the administrative tasks will be moving on to the next stage. Some of you will be leaving, others will be staying on," said Lin. "I strongly believe that as long as your work is to help the country transform and move forward, we don’t have to worry about the criticism and misunderstanding out there. We should just give our best and continue to work hard towards changing and transforming our nation.”
Lin thanked his staff for their efforts and said time will prove that their hard work over the past year has been worthwhile.
U.S. Republican National Committee backs arms sales to Taiwan
By Rita Cheng and Y.F. Low
Washington, Aug. 25 (CNA) The U.S. Republican National Committee (RNC) on Friday approved a resolution giving full support to President Donald Trump's arms sales to Taiwan.
The resolution was one of 12 adopted during the annual RNC summer meeting being held from Aug. 23 to 26 in Nashville, Tennessee.
It came two months after the Trump administration announced a US$1.42 billion arms sale package to Taiwan, the first since Trump took office in January.
The resolution noted that the close friendship between the United States and Taiwan was cemented during the Cold War years and has endured for more than 65 years through many shifts in Asia's geopolitical landscape.
Based on the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) of 1979, it is the policy of the United States to provide Taiwan with defensive arms and to maintain its capacity to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social and economic system of the people on Taiwan, it said.
In addition, it is stated in President Ronald Reagan's 1982 Six Assurances that "the United States would not set a date for termination of arms sales to Taiwan" and that "the United States would not consult with the People's Republic of China in advance before making decisions about United States arms sales to Taiwan," it pointed out.
The resolution is the latest move made by the Republican Party in support of Taiwan.
In its 2016 platform, the party also reaffirmed the Six Assurances and reiterated the TRA as the basis of Taiwan-U.S. ties.
Last year, the U.S. Congress also adopted resolutions reaffirming the TRA and the Six Assurances as the cornerstones of U.S.-Taiwan relations.
The United States can look to the Far East for advice on its monuments
By Thomas J. Shattuck
The Washington Post
As the United States grapples with the horrific events that occurred in Charlottesville, it is clear that the country has a lot to learn about how to handle its Confederate monuments — and it could look to an unlikely place for a solution.
Taiwan can offer us a lesson or two on how to deal with troubling historical figures and their monuments. Chiang Kai-shek, leader of the Chinese Nationalist Party and Taiwan’s president until his death in 1975, is both celebrated and vilified. He steered Taiwan from the verge of defeat in the late 1940s to becoming one of the “Four Asian Tigers” and resisted Chinese Communist rule. Yet, at the same time, he implemented the “White Terror” and martial law, under which tens of thousands of people were beaten and imprisoned, and between 18,000 to 28,000 died for threatening his rule.
Taiwan is now a thriving democracy, and its people are free to research the atrocities that occurred during the martial law period. President Tsai Ing-wen is working toward achieving transitional justice for the victims by opening archives and promising to write a comprehensive report on government oppression during the martial law era. How Taiwan’s people view one of the most important men in their history is changing, as is popular opinion on whether or not — and how — he should be commemorated.
But Taiwan seems to have arrived at a potential solution. It has established a park populated with more than 200 “rejected” statues of Chiang. The Cihu Memorial Sculpture Park, built near Chiang’s mausoleum, is funded by the local government and contains statues that were discarded by schools, government buildings and other public spaces. The park serves as one primary location for people who wish to celebrate Chiang’s life — away from those still haunted by his rule.
The idea for the park started when Tzeng Rung-chien, now the former mayor of Dashi, became aware of an argument over a statue of Chiang at a nearby university. Tzeng decided to create a home for these statues, understanding that the debate over their rightful place was just beginning. He believed the statues should be retained for their aesthetic and historical value. In 2003, he noted that the park could help stimulate a proper evaluation of Chiang’s rule: “It will help promote a fair discussion and evaluation of Chiang’s leadership. . . . Now Taiwan is democratic, every leader has to be evaluated by the public in this way.”
Questioning his legacy in such a way would not have been legal while Chiang was in power. Thus, the park, along with the discussion it generates, serves as a stark reminder of how far Taiwan has come as a free and open democracy.
If the United States were to adopt a similar idea, it would need to go one step further than Taiwan. The U.S. equivalent would have to provide information contextualizing the monuments, the circumstances in which they were erected and why they were relocated. Simply moving them without this context — as is the case with the Chiang statues in Cihu — would do a disservice to those who were enslaved, suffered under Jim Crow laws, and fought in the Civil War and for civil rights — and could provide a dangerous rallying point for neo-Nazis.
There is already talk of shifting Confederate statues to a single, out-of-the-way location. The director of Beauvoir, Jefferson Davis’s retirement home and now a museum, has offered to take monuments from “any city or jurisdiction [that] has decided to take [them] down.” The director also noted that the “monuments could serve an educational purpose for visitors while being displayed in gardens out of general public view.” If done properly and with care, a solution like this could work.
Of course, it would not solve the underlying problem of racial discord and violence across the country. It could, however, reduce the potential for violence by shifting the monuments out of public view, while also keeping these symbols of our ugly past alive for future generations to study and remember.
As a rule of thumb, we as a nation should not be honoring men who led a failed rebellion against the Union and fought for the institution of slavery. Their likenesses should not be allowed to populate the streets of the United States. But following in Taiwan’s footsteps and placing them out of common sight is a solution worth considering.
Gardner introduces bill to strengthen ties between United States, Taiwan
Ripon Advance News Service
July 26, 2017
Legislation announced by U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) on Monday would strengthen diplomatic relations between the United States and Taiwan and bolster Taiwan’s role in the international community.
The Taiwan Security Act (TSA) would require diplomatic exchanges between U.S. and Taiwanese officials ranking at or above the level of flag officer and assistant secretary, and it would reestablish talks between the two countries on arms sales.
“This legislation takes a significant step forward to demonstrate that the United States will take all necessary steps to support our ally and friend, Taiwan,” Gardner said. “The Taiwan Security Act ensures our government will enhance mutually-beneficial security, diplomatic and economic ties with Taipei, which will promote Taiwan’s international standing and help ensure peace and stability in the region.”
Under TSA, Taiwanese forces would be invited to take part in Rim of the Pacific naval exercises and Red Flag air-to-air combat exercises in 2018. Navy port visits between the two countries would be required.
U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), who introduced the bill with Gardner, said China’s escalating pressure on Taiwan has not elicited a serious response from the United States for too long.
“This legislation would send an overdue message to China to halt its aggressive behavior,” Cotton said. “Strong security, economic and cultural ties with Taipei have always advanced U.S. interests in Asia, and created conditions for Taiwan’s free-market democracy to flourish. Enhancing those ties now will ensure that China’s petulant actions will not disturb the peace across the Taiwan Strait.”
The measure would also express congressional support for Taiwan’s commitment to break off economic ties with North Korea and to spend 3 percent of its gross domestic product on defense.
AIT: Taiwan-U.S. dialogue will help bilateral ties
Taipei, July 26 (CNA) A dialogue between Taiwan and the United States on trade and investment that began Wednesday is expected to help ties between the two countries, according to a spokeswoman for the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT).
Sonia Urbom said that the dialogue, which is expected to run through Friday, will cover a wide range of topics, such as intellectual property rights protection, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, agriculture, investment and technical barriers to trade.
It is the first trade dialogue between Taipei and Washington since U.S. President Donald Trump took office in January.
An AIT delegation is taking part in the talks with a Taiwanese delegation organized by the Executive Yuan's Office of Trade Negotiations and headed by Yang Jen-ni (楊珍妮), the office's deputy chief negotiator.
Yang is also director of the Bureau of Foreign Trade under the Ministry of Economic Affairs.
The U.S. delegation to the talks will meet with relevant trade authorities in Taiwan and "will continue to work to expand U.S.-Taiwan bilateral trade and investment relations," Urbom said in a statement.
According to the Office of Trade Negotiations, the U.S. delegation is comprised of representatives from the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Department of Agriculture.
Tseng Hsien-chao (曾顯照), a negotiator of the Office of Trade Negotiations, said that the latest annual negotiations are expected to focus on topics raised in previous talks, including pork and beef imports from the United States.
In the 2016 dialogue held in Washington under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), a bilateral mechanism between the two countries, the U.S. delegation raised the pork and beef import issue.
Taiwan bans imports of U.S. meat products that contain traces of the leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine. It relented on beef in 2012 after maximum residue limits for ractopamine in beef and pork were set by a United Nations food standards body.
In addition, Tseng said that both sides are expected to talk about the huge trade surplus Taiwan enjoys with the U.S.
Taiwan ranks as the 14th-largest country to record a trade surplus with the U.S., and the aggregate trade surplus Taipei has over Washington totals about US$9.1 billion, according to data from the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Tseng said that his office has explained the trade surplus to the U.S., emphasizing that the figure does not include the purchase of military vessels or military personnel training, so that Taiwan is not the major cause of the huge trade imbalance.
In fact, Tseng said, Taipei and Washington are complementary to each other in terms of global trade.
Tseng said the 2017 negotiations are expected to resolve technical issues rather than come up with any substantive advances in economic policies related to bilateral economic relations.
(By Ku Chuan, Scarlett Chai and Frances Huang)
Taiwan thanks US for latest arms package
June 30th, 2017
The Presidential Office has thanked the United States for approving arms sales totaling US$1.42 billion.
The move came Friday, a day after the Trump administration notified Congress of the sale. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the sale is in accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) passed in 1979. Under the TRA, Washington is required to provide Taiwan with defensive weapons. Nauert also said Washington’s “one China” policy remains unchanged.
Presidential Office spokesperson Alex Huang said Taiwan welcomes the decision.
“The US government provides Taiwan with defensive weapons and assists Taiwan in building strong defensive capabilities. This means Taiwan has greater ability and confidence in safeguarding the status quo of cross-strait peace and stability. [Arms sales] allow Taiwan to continue seeking meaningful dialogue with Beijing and promote positive development for both sides. We believe this is what the international community also wants," said Huang.
The package is the first arms sale to Taiwan since President Trump took office in January.
US arms sales help cross-strait peace: Defense ministry
June 30th, 2017
The defense ministry says US arms sales to Taiwan will help maintain cross-strait peace. Ministry spokesperson Chen Chung-chi made the statement Friday.
It is expected that a bill governing the latest arms package will take effect a month after it is reviewed and approved by Congress.
Chen said the arms sales are crucial to long-term regional peace.
“The [arms sales] are the basis of maintaining regional stability. We must emphasize that they help strengthen the self-defense capabilities of the Republic of China and maintain cross-strait peace as well. Therefore, the defense ministry would like to express its sincere appreciation to the decision made by the US," said Chen.
The Republic of China is Taiwan’s official name.
The latest package includes MK48 torpedoes, upgrades to MK46 torpedoes, high-speed anti-radiation missiles (HARM), MK41 vertical launching system, the maintenance of Surveillance Radar Program (SRP), among other items.
Tsai thanks US senators for supporting arms sales to Taiwan
June 26, 2017
President Tsai Ing-wen has thanked a handful of US lawmakers for supporting US arms sales to Taiwan.
Eight US senators sent a letter dated June 23rd to US President Donald Trump, urging him to support the arms sales, as well as the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), and Taiwan’s self-defense. The TRA, passed by Congress in 1979, requires the United States to provide Taiwan with defensive weapons.
The eight senators also demanded that the Trump administration send notifications to Congress immediately about what they referred to as “a number of small Taiwan arms sales programs awaiting congressional notification.”
The letter was jointly signed by the eight senators, including John McCain, the chair of the Senate Armed Forces Committee.
In the letter, they said that following President Tsai’s election last year, "China has intensified its economic coercion and military intimidation tactics, thereby stoking cross-strait tensions and threatening peace and security in the Taiwan Strait."
The letter also said "Taiwan has significant and legitimate future defense requirements, including replacement fighters, new submarines, new missile defense and electronic warfare capabilities, as well as support for its cyber-security efforts."
Opening Statement of the Honorable Ed Royce (R-CA)
Chairman House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific Hearing:
“Renewing Assurances: Strengthening U.S.-Taiwan Ties”
June 15, 2017
Thank you Chairman Yoho for holding this important hearing on Taiwan, and for marking up the Taiwan Travel Act, which I am proud to co-sponsor with Rep. Steve Chabot. By encouraging more frequent visits between our two governments – including at the highest levels – we will further strengthen the critical U.S.-Taiwan partnership.
The U.S. and Taiwan share a commitment to democracy, human rights, and rule of law, and it is these values that serve as the bedrock of this partnership.
I lead large bipartisan delegations to Taiwan every year to highlight the broad and steadfast relationship the U.S. has with Taiwan, which was made possible by the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979. Taiwan is facing new challenges as a result of changes in cross-Strait and global dynamics, and it is more important than ever to reassure Taiwan of the U.S.’s commitment to the relationship.
Unfortunately, just this week, under pressure and with inducements from Beijing, Panama broke off decades of diplomatic relations with Taiwan, and switched diplomatic recognition to the People's Republic of China. This decision from Panamanian President Varela came after Taiwan has, according to media reports, provided $20 million per year in foreign aid to Panama on average. I’d hope that Panama, and all nations, would act to include Taiwan in international organizations.
I found it particularly concerning that Taiwan was excluded from this year’s World Health Assembly. Over the years, Taiwan has contributed to international efforts to improve global health with financial and technical assistance. It is for this reason that Taiwan has been invited to the World Health Assembly for the past eight years. Taiwan’s exclusion this year only hurts global health. There should have been no question about its participation.
I am a strong advocate for strengthening Taiwan’s economic links to the U.S. and across Asia. Taiwan is the U.S.’s tenth largest goods-trading partner and the seventh largest market for America’s farmers and ranchers. Taiwanese companies also invest substantially in the U.S. Taiwanese companies have pledged over $34 billion in investments into the U.S. for 2017. With our shared values of democracy and open markets, it is vital that we continue to grow this economic partnership.
Chairman Yoho understands this and has taken the lead on this issue by authoring legislation to encourage a deeper trade relationship between the U.S. and Taiwan, and I am a cosponsor and supporter of those efforts.
Finally, one of the key provisions of the Taiwan Relations Act was the commitment from the U.S. to provide Taiwan with defensive arms. I remain concerned about successive administrations’ delays in arms sales notifications for Taiwan, which have needlessly dragged out the arms sales process. I hope to see regular notifications in the future, and look forward to the announcement of new sales this year.
Thank you again, Chairman Yoho. I look forward to hearing the witnesses’ testimonies.
Tillerson affirms US commitments to Taiwan
The American secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, has confirmed Washington’s commitment to its “One China” policy and to Taiwan under the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA). Tillerson was addressing a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Wednesday. The TRA exists to regulate US relations with Taiwan in the absence of formal diplomatic ties.
Tillerson made the remarks after Representative Steve Chabot raised the matter of Panama breaking ties with Taiwan earlier this week. Chabot noted that the break arose due to pressure from China. Tillerson said Chabot reminded him to make clear to Beijing that the US is committed to Taiwan.
Tillerson said the US relationship with Beijing has been defined for the past 50 years by the “One China” policy that he said has brought regional stability. He said the policy has allowed enormous economic growth from which the US has benefitted. Tillerson said the US is also in discussion with China about the direction of their relationship for the next 50 years and Taiwan will be a part of that discussion.
Foreign ministry official Christine Hsueh said Thursday that Tillerson’s remarks reflect strong US commitment to the Taiwan Relations Act.
SUPPORTING TAIWAN'S PARTICIPATION IN WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION
HON. BARBARA COMSTOCK
in the house of representatives
Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Mrs. COMSTOCK. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of Taiwan's true, meaningful participation in the World Health Organization (WHO).
It is unfortunate that, almost 13 years after Congress made it an annual requirement to have an unclassified report from the Secretary of State on the U.S. plan for Taiwan to gain observer status at the WHO, and eight years since Taiwan was first invited to the World Health Assembly (WHA)--the governing forum of the WHO--as an observer, it remains necessary for Members to again raise their voices on this issue.
Since 2009, Taiwan has been allowed to attend the annual meeting of the WHA as an observer, but last year, its invitation was held up due to pressure the People's Republic of China wished to place upon the incoming administration of Taiwan's president, Tsai Ing-wen. The current WHO Director-General has shown hostility to Taipei before. When last year's invitation arrived, it contained insulting, unnecessary language referring to the October 1971 UN General Assembly resolution replacing the United Nations delegation from Taipei with the delegation from Beijing, as the basis for Taiwan's attendance. Additionally, the invitation stated that Taiwan's participation should be conditioned on the ``one-China'' principle. This, too, was unnecessary, as President Tsai has stated Taiwan's commitment to the status quo across the Taiwan Strait.
This year's WHA is currently taking place in Geneva. It began on May 22 and will conclude May 31. As of yet, no invitation has been issued to Taiwan.
As my colleagues are aware, it is the stated policy of the United States, over successive administrations, that Taiwan should be allowed meaningful participation in international organizations where it cannot become a full member. I submit that Taiwan's current level of participation is neither satisfactory, nor meaningful.
Mr. Speaker, this situation is unacceptable. As an advanced democracy, economy, and society, with one of the most-developed health care systems in the world, a proven track record controlling infectious diseases, and a history of providing humanitarian relief, Taiwan has much to offer. Neither Taiwan, nor the international community, is served by restricting Taiwan's access to timely information and important resources.
The situation necessitates that we reiterate our full support for Taiwan's inclusion at the WHA and in the other work of the WHO. The WHO Secretariat should continue to uphold its independence and impartiality, and should not be at the service of any particular member state. I ask my colleagues to join me in encouraging the administration to work with Taiwan and our member friends at the WHO to secure Taiwan's invitation and meaningful participation at the WHA now and in the future.
AmCham Taipei backs FTA with US
The American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei, or AmCham Taipei, supports Taiwan signing a free trade agreement with the US. That’s according to AmCham’s 2017 Taiwan White Paper published on Thursday. The paper is a report that assesses Taiwan’s business climate and sets priority issues.
Responding to the report, the Presidential Office said the paper’s suggestion is in line with the administration’s policy. In order for the two sides to sign an FTA, Taiwan must first deal with the issue of US imports of agricultural goods. The government says Taiwan hopes to secure food safety and the rights of local farmers before taking part in any international trade negotiations. The Presidential Office said the government will work on promoting overall economic development and expand bilateral cooperation for a win-win.
The document said that Taiwan had previously hoped to join the regional Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact. However, the US withdrawal from the TPP makes it uncertain whether Taiwan will be able to remove the political barriers to joining. The report said an alternative would be to sign an FTA with the US but Taiwan would first have to resolve the issue of American pork imports.
Cabinet spokesperson Hsu Kuo-yung said AmCham Taipei is a civil organization and does not represent the US government. Hsu said signing an FTA with the US would depend on formal talks with the US government in order to move forward.
The TRA at 38: What Would Reagan Do?
The Global Taiwan Brief
By Shirley Kan
April 26th, 2017
Shirley Kan is a retired Specialist in Asian Security Affairs who worked for the US Congress at the non-partisan Congressional Research Service (CRS). She also is a member of GTI’s Advisory Board.
This month is not the time to note with platitudes another symbolic anniversary of the enactment on April 10, 1979, of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) as Public Law 96-8. The Trump administration offers an opportunity for substantive action in US policy on Taiwan in the interests of international security, democratic values, and economic growth. Since November, expectations that arose during the transition and Administration’s first months have not yet been met with results. There is a parallel with Ronald Reagan, who entered office raising questions about the US “One-China” policy with pro-Taiwan remarks that cited its official name of Republic of China (ROC), but then issued the third US Joint Communiqué with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1982. Likewise, Donald Trump elevated expectations concerning Taiwan and then caused uncertainty, with countervailing comments and no major actions. Though early in the Administration’s first 100 days, a Trump-Xi summit already occurred which made Taiwan feel more insecure even before new key officials would replace Obama administration holdovers. Optimistically, what would Reagan do?
First, articulate principles with clear understanding to direct firm policies. Last December 11, Trump told Fox News Sunday, “I fully understand the ‘One-China’ policy, but I don’t know why we have to be bound by a ‘One-China’ policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade.” Trump meant that Washington is not bound by Beijing’s definition of our “One-China” policy, but his statement suggested a transactional approach. In a phone conversation with PRC ruler Xi Jinping soon after entering the White House, President Trump agreed, at the request of President Xi, to honor our “One-China” policy. Trump conceded to Xi’s “request.”
Nonetheless, Trump significantly cited “our” policy. The US “One-China” policy differs from the PRC’s “One-China” principle, which claims Taiwan as a PRC province. US policy focuses on the process, rather than the outcome, to resolve the question of Taiwan’s status. Still, Trump’s short statement did not help the news media, which often confuses Washington’s policy with Beijing’s principle and wrongly insinuates US-PRC agreement on Taiwan’s status as a part of China. As Senator John Glenn (D-OH) stated, the United States simply acknowledged, like a neutral bystander, in the Shanghai Communiqué that, “all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait” maintain that there is one China with Taiwan a part of China. Indeed, in that year of the Joint Communiqué (1972), the “One-China” that the United States recognized diplomatically was the ROC, commonly called Taiwan. The term “Chinese” included the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) in Taipei that regarded Taiwan as a part of the ROC. Under the KMT and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Taiwan’s official title has remained the ROC.
Second, confront the top strategic priority while keeping balanced policies between Beijing and Taipei. Reagan’s primary problem in seeking cooperation with China was to face the Soviet Union’s threat. Now, under Trump, the White House finally has made North Korea’s threat the top priority in US dealings with the PRC. However, Trump’s words suggest rewarding China for working on the North Korean threat, which is like paying an arsonist’s accomplice to sprinkle water on his fires. Reagan did not accept the premise that engagement with Taiwan and the PRC was a zero-sum game. In June 1981, James Lilley (advisor at the NSC) and Richard Armitage (official at the Pentagon) advised Reagan to reaffirm publicly the TRA and its clause on arms sales.
This principle of balanced policies remains relevant in pressuring Beijing to confront Pyongyang, an effort that should not come at Taipei’s expense. Since Reagan’s presidency, Taiwan has liberalized as a democracy. So, President Bill Clinton added the US expectation that the dispute between Beijing and Taipei must be resolved not only peacefully but also “with the assent of the people of Taiwan.” Moreover, Taiwan has become an “important security and economic partner,” a moniker the Obama Administration added in 2011. Both points need to be affirmed with policy changes to expand contacts with Taiwan.
Third, consistently affirm that the TRA guides policy on Taiwan, in order to assert credibility and leadership. Before the Senate confirmed him as Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson responded to Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) that the three US-PRC Joint Communiqués, the TRA, and the Six Assurances form the foundation for policy on Taiwan. However, after questions arose about Tillerson’s visit to Beijing in March, the State Department simply stated that the US stance on Taiwan is our “One-China” policy. Recognizing that the State Department’s failure to cite the TRA sent the wrong signal, NSC official Matt Pottinger reminded members of the press before the Trump-Xi summit that President Trump had already reaffirmed our “One-China” policy as consistent with the Joint Communiqués as well as the TRA.
As the only law specifically governing policy on Taiwan, the TRA did not even discuss the “One-China” concept. Lester Wolff (D-NY), who was Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs when Congress passed the TRA (and who turned 98 years old in January) says that the legislative intent of the TRA was to ensure Taiwan’s viability, regardless of the “one China” policy. Furthermore, according to Wolff, the TRA protects Taiwan and supports its freedom from China’s claims of sovereignty, while Taiwan and China settle their differences. He worked with Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), among other members of Congress, to pass the “unique” TRA that was signed by the President and then endorsed by successive Congresses with the force of law, unlike the Six Assurances.
In also reaffirming the Six Assurances, Tillerson echoed former Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly’s key testimony at a hearing on the TRA’s 25th anniversary, in 2004. Kelly testified that, “our position continues to be embodied in the so-called Six Assurances offered to Taiwan by President Reagan.”
Fourth, assure Taipei before dealing with Beijing. It is important to remember that Reagan assured Taipei before Washington issued the third Joint Communiqué with Beijing. On July 14, 1982, Lilley, as Director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), conveyed Six Assurances from Reagan to ROC President Chiang Ching-kuo. During US-PRC negotiations on the third Joint Communiqué, Reagan assured Taiwan that the United States has not agreed to set a date for ending arms sales to Taiwan; has not agreed to hold prior consultations with the PRC on arms sales to Taiwan; will not play any mediation role between Taipei and Beijing, has not agreed to revise the TRA; has not altered its position regarding sovereignty over Taiwan; and will not exert pressure on Taiwan to negotiate with the PRC. The language of the assurance on “sovereignty” led to misunderstandings and competing versions. Reagan’s careful words did not state any US position on Taiwan’s status. US policy regards that status as unsettled.
Fifth, name presidential representatives. Though Lilley was AIT Director, he acted as Reagan’s ambassador. Lilley’s critical role, which he related to this author, shows that Trump needs his own officials to execute policies, rather than using holdovers at AIT, the Pentagon, and the State Department.
Sixth, continue arms sales in full adherence to the TRA. Two of Reagan’s assurances stressed that arms sales to Taiwan would continue, despite the Joint Communiqué of August 17, 1982. On the same day, Reagan issued a public statement, declaring that arms sales to Taiwan would continue, in accordance with the TRA and the PRC’s professed peaceful policy. In a non-public directive, Reagan added that, “both in quantitative and qualitative terms, Taiwan’s defense capability relative to that of the PRC will be maintained.” Reagan also wrote that day in his diary that “truth is we are standing with Taiwan and the PRC made all the concessions.” Changes since that time pose a policy issue about whether Taiwan can maintain a military balance in its favor. Still, Reagan linked arms sales to Taiwan with the PRC’s threat as a “permanent imperative” of US foreign policy, reasoning that arms sales would increase if the PRC built up its military threat. Also, the TRA—trumping the communiqués—stipulates that the president and the Congress shall determine the nature and quantity of such defense articles and services “based solely” upon their judgment of Taiwan’s needs.
Now is the urgent time to correct the arms sales process that started in the latter part of George W. Bush’s Administration and continued under Obama. Going astray from Reagan’s linkage in the private directive accompanying the last communiqué, the changed process linked individual defense programs in so-called “packages” and commonly froze notifications to Congress on arms sales before major events connected with the PRC. The Trump Administration should submit the pending programs for congressional review and end the distortion of “packages.”
Reagan’s main concern was the military balance between Taiwan and the PRC. Taiwan is obligated to maintain a sufficient self-defense and assert its defense needs. In March, Taiwan issued a new defense strategy and a Quadrennial Defense Review, but without significantly increasing defense funds. Taiwan’s Defense Minister repeated a long-standing plea for defense spending at 3 percent of GDP, but the budget amounts to NT $350.7 billion (US $11.5 billion), or only 2 percent of GDP.
Main Point: Only the US defines “our” policy on Taiwan, which cannot be reduced to simply a “One-China” policy. Clear, credible, and consistent US actions and statements are needed to adhere to the TRA and to counter misleading media stories and the PRC’s political warfare.
 Lester Wolff and David Simon, “Statement of Senator John Glenn on China-Taiwan Policy,” July 22, 1982, Legislative History of the Taiwan Relations Act (New York: American Association for Chinese Studies, 1982).
 James Lilley with Jeffrey Lilley, China Hands (New York: Public Affairs, 2004), 251-252.
 White House, “Remarks by the President to the Business Council,” February 24, 2000.
 This paragraph is based on the author’s interviews with former Representative Lester Wolff, March and April 2017.
 Testimony of Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs James Kelly at hearing held by the House International Relations Committee on “The Taiwan Relations Act: The Next 25 Years,” April 21, 2004.
 Lilley, China Hands, 248.
 Ronald Reagan, The Reagan Diaries (New York: Harper, 2007), 75.
AIT chair backs Taiwan’s WHA participation
Radio Taiwan International
The top US official in charge of Taiwan ties, James Moriarty, on Tuesday spoke up for Taiwan’s participation in the upcoming World Health Assembly (WHA). That’s the convening body of the World Health Organization, set to take place in Geneva from May 22-31.
Moriarty is the chair of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), the de facto US embassy in the absence of official diplomatic ties. He was speaking at the opening of a four-day conference in Taipei on dengue fever, Zika virus, and other communicable diseases. Vice President Chen Chien-jen was in attendance, along with the health minister, and representatives from Singapore, Indonesia and Australia.
The AIT chief said the United States supports Taiwan’s meaningful and substantive contributions to the international community. He said the US welcomed Taiwan’s participation as an observer during the last eight meetings of the World Health Assembly and looked forward to its continued participation.
Moriarty’s expression of support for Taiwan’s WHA participation was the first from a US official since President Donald Trump took office in January.
With the registration deadline looming for the WHA, Taiwan has yet to receive an invitation. It’s thought that this, along with Taiwan’s other recent setbacks in the international community, are due to China’s opposition to the administration of President Tsai Ing-wen. China considers Taiwan part of its territory, although the two sides are governed separately.
Foreign ministry spokesperson Eleanor Wang also addressed the issue on Tuesday morning. She said that the foreign ministry has contacted Taiwan’s allies as well as like-minded nations like the United States to garner support for Taiwan’s participation in the WHA. She said Taiwan’s diplomats abroad would advocate the universal right to health and the position that disease prevention knows no borders.
Where Was Taiwan in the Trump-Xi Meeting?
The Trump administration shows signs of backing off support for Taiwan, including the Six Assurances.
By Chen-Dong Tso and Gratiana Jung
April 12, 2017
The long-awaited inaugural summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping ended on April 7. The “Taiwan issue” was widely regarded as minor one on the agenda, and the White House’s pre-summit press conference confirmed that Trump would not emphasize the topic in the meeting. Also in a pre-summit briefing, Matthew Pottinger, the National Security Council’s senior director for Asia, stated that Washington would not trade Taiwan for China’s support on the North Korea issue.
To the relief of many in Taiwan, there was no joint statement after the summit. Nor was there any surprise regarding the “One China” policy in the press releases each side issued separately. But Beijing has always insisted that the “One China” policy is a prerequisite for meetings, rather than an issue to be discussed in meetings. Hence it is logical to guess that the pre-summit interactions hold more details about the Taiwan issue.
Indeed, in the months leading up to the summit, the Trump administration has become more reserved in elaborating on its support for Taiwan. In July 2016, the Republican Party’s campaign platform highlighted that the United States would continue its relations with Taiwan based on the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA). The platform also affirmed the Six Assurances given to Taiwan by the Reagan administration. In January 2017, Secretary of State-to-be Rex Tillerson, during his nomination hearings in Congress, pledged that the United States should reaffirm and live up to its commitments under the TRA and the Six Assurance.
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However, on March 7, Acting Spokesperson of the State Department Mark Toner used the cliché that the United States has not changed its cross-Strait policy to avoid a question as on the role played by the Six Assurances in the “One China” policy under the Trump administration. Moreover, on April 5, an anonymous senior official at the White House made even clearer that the One China policy Trump has reaffirmed is based on the three communique and the TRA. Neither this statement by the White House, nor the one given a day later by Susan Thornton, the acting assistant secretary of state for East Asia and Pacific affairs, on the U.S. commitment to Taiwan mentioned the Six Assurances. This could mark a policy step back since July 2016.
In making sense of this shift of tone, we probably need to look into Trump’s personal approach to the summit with Xi. Despite being a vocal China-basher on the campaign trail, Trump was the quickest among all American presidents since George H. W. Bush to meet in person with, much less receive, a Chinese president in a bilateral context. All American presidents from Bill Clinton on have chosen to meet their Chinese counterparts once or several times on multilateral occasions prior to a formal one-on-one bilateral meeting. For instance, George W. Bush waited one year being inviting Jiang Zemin to his Prairie Chapel Ranch in Texas. It was two years after Barack Obama took office before Hu Jintao paid a state visit to the United States. Xi Jinping was formally invited to the Annenberg Estate in the first year of Obama’s second term. However, Trump hosted a summit with Xi after only three months in office. Wu Xinbo, a Shanghai-based Chinese scholar, indicated that this might be Trump’s own idea, one facilitated proactively by his team. Not to mention that the venue of the summit was Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s personal property. It would be difficult to arrange if Trump himself did not extend the invitation in the first place. And if Trump were eager to host the Chinese president, reiterating the One China policy would be a necessary first step.
As far as the Six Assurances are concerned, one main purpose was to assure Taiwan that arms sales would not be terminated by the August 17 communique of 1982. In particular, it provides as assurance that the United States would not consult Beijing prior to any arms sales to Taiwan. That being said, it is interesting to recall a March 14 report by the Washington Free Beacon. Citing an anonymous official at the Trump administration, the report revealed that the Trump administration was preparing a package of arms sales to Taiwan to replace another one that was supposed to be delivered in December 2016, but was shelved by the Obama administration. The report went on to note that the package will be made known after Trump’s meeting with Xi in early April. A similar report by Reuters further hinted that it may take months or well into next year for the proposed deal to overcome obstacles.
A low-profile deliberation about a possible arms sale to Taiwan prior to the Trump-Xi summit might have been designed to ease concerns over Trump’s overture to Beijing among both the domestic and international audience. Nonetheless, one cannot help to wonder how Tillerson could have avoided talking about the possible arms sales in Beijing, given that the proposal was leaked to the media a week ahead of his visit to China. It would be even harder to imagine that Xi would want to risk seeing a huge arms sale package to Taiwan announced right after his summit with Trump, or that Xi would be willing to make efforts on issues important to trade, whether on the trade front or on North Korea, with that prospect hanging overhead. Under the circumstances, the value of the Six Assurances under the Trump administration, at least the assurance that pledges to prevent prior consultation with Beijing on arms sales to Taiwan, might be called into question.
Chen-Dong Tso is Professor in the Department of Political Science at National Taiwan University. Gratiana Jung is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science at National Taiwan University, and she also holds a full-time position as a senior political researcher at a renowned economic research institute in Taiwan.
Taiwan Caucus urges Trump to reaffirm commitments
Radio Taiwan International
Members of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus in the United States have urged President Donald Trump to reaffirm the country’s commitments to Taiwan. That’s as Trump prepares to hold his first meeting with President Xi Jinping of China.
In a joint statement, caucus members called on Trump to confirm that the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) and the Six Assurances are the cornerstone of US-Taiwan ties. The statement was released on Wednesday, a day before Trump hosts Xi at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
The TRA was passed by Congress on January 1, 1979, coinciding with the US recognition of Beijing as the government of China. It establishes the framework for the informal ties with Taiwan. Notably, the act requires the US to supply Taiwan with "arms of a defensive character." It also says the US must maintain the capacity to "resist any resort to force" that would jeopardize Taiwan.
The Six Assurances, meanwhile, are promises the Reagan administration made to Taiwan in 1982. These include the assurance that the US will not mediate between Taiwan and China and will not recognize Beijing’s sovereignty over Taiwan.
In their statement, members of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus call on Trump to continue selling defensive weapons to Taiwan in accordance with the act. The congress members say that Trump should supply these weapons based on Taiwan’s military needs rather than any consultation with Beijing.
The statement notes that Taiwan is a dynamic democracy as well as the United States’ tenth largest trading partner. The statement says the existing US policy towards Taiwan policy is key to upholding peace, security, and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.
Trump, Xi and Taiwan
Presidential talks mustn’t overlook a vibrant Asian democracy
The Washington Times
April 4th, 2017
Lester L. Wolff
This week, the world will witness the first meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping. There has been much speculation on which topics their conversations will address, and it is a safe bet that Taiwan will be on the list. The U.S.-Taiwan relationship is a vital one, and it is necessary — especially in this time of change and uncertainty — to restate the reasons why.
Thirty-eight years ago this month, the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), an important, bipartisan creation of the U.S. Congress, was signed into law. Necessitated by Washington switching its official diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing, the TRA has allowed the United States to maintain its friendship and ties of cooperation with Taiwan and its people. It states that the status of Taiwan should be determined by peaceful means, and that nonpeaceful means to do so are a threat to the region and of grave concern to the United States.
At the same time, the TRA recognized, and continues to recognize, the reality of the world in which we live — one where Beijing has never renounced the use of force to take Taiwan, and where it engaged first in a massive military build-up across the Taiwan Strait, and now in the waters of the East and South China Seas. The TRA mandates that the United States “make available to Taiwan such defense articles and defense services in such quantity as may be necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability,” and we have done so in the decades since with bipartisan support.
Relations between the United States and Taiwan were further bolstered through the Six Assurances made to Taiwan by President Ronald Reagan in 1982, which stipulated: the TRA would not be altered, the United States would not mediate between Taipei and Beijing, and the United States would not alter its position about Taiwan’s sovereignty or formally recognize China’s sovereignty over Taiwan.
As a result of U.S. commitments to Taiwan, an environment was created where the people of Taiwan — the population of which is now more than 23 million — built a true, functioning democracy that has experienced the peaceful transfer of power from one political party to another three times since 2000 at the presidential level, and for the first time at the legislative level last year. Americans who have visited Taiwan or worked with Taiwanese people know that the reason the relationship is so strong is because we share many of the same values — a commitment to democracy, personal freedom, individual expression and the rule of law. Taiwan has concurrently grown into a vibrant society garnering achievements in science and technology, education, the arts and popular culture that have been exported and embraced by people elsewhere in the region and around the world.
In every sense, the TRA and the relationship that has been built upon it have been successful. Just as Taiwan has benefited, so has the United States and the wider global community. Taiwan today is not only one of America’s most dependable allies in the Asia-Pacific and its 10th-largest trading partner, but it is an example for emerging democracies everywhere and a leader in providing humanitarian aid in times of need — all this in spite of the regrettably limited international space in which Taiwan is allowed to operate.
At a time when democracy appears to be in retreat in many parts of the world, Taiwan demonstrates how it can be a success. As American diplomats and foreign policy experts have pointed out time and again, the U.S. commitment to Taiwan underscores to America’s friends and foes its commitments to its allies and to democracy, and helps to maintain U.S. credibility abroad.
In the five months since the U.S. presidential election, there has been needless uncertainty regarding U.S. policy on China, Taiwan and cross-strait relations. Before his confirmation earlier this year, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reaffirmed the TRA and the Six Assurances and said, “The U.S. commitment to Taiwan is both a legal commitment and a moral imperative.” This was a positive first step.
This week’s Trump-Xi meetings are an opportunity for the president to both publicly and privately make the same important points. U.S. engagement with China is important to the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region, but it is also vital that the mutual interests of the United States and Taiwan should not in any way be compromised by this process.
• Lester Wolff is a former chairman of the Asian and Pacific Affairs subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and was a principal author of the Taiwan Relations Act. He is currently a policy adviser to TECRO.
Taiwan hoping to receive invitation to WHA
Scarlett Chai and Lilian Wu
Taipei, March 7 (CNA) Taiwan has indicated to the World Health Organization (WHO) that it hopes to attend the annual World Health Assembly (WHA) for the ninth consecutive year, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Tuesday.
The WHA, the decision-making body of the WHO, is scheduled to take place in Geneva from May 22 to 31.
The Secretariat of the WHO usually starts to send invitations in March, but Foreign Minister David Lee (李大維) said a day earlier "it remains unclear" whether Taiwan will be able to attend this year's conference.
Ministry spokeswoman Eleanor Wang (王珮玲) said on Tuesday the ministry thanked the WHO for inviting Taiwan to attend the WHA as an observer for the past eight years, as such participation allowed the nation to play an active role in the promotion of international medical care and the global fight against disease.
Taiwan's expertise in these areas has also won recognition from the international community, she added.
Wang said Taiwan is seeking the support of allies, countries that share the same ideals and related parties in its efforts to secure at invitation to the WHA.
She indicated that Taiwan remains in touch with the WHO and hopes to receive an invitation soon.
When the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party replaced the China-friendly Kuomintang to take the reins of the government in May 2016, Taiwan received a late invitation to attend the WHA that year.
However, that invitation contained an unexpected reference to United Nations Resolution No. 2758, passed on October 25, 1971, which recognizes the People's Republic of China as "the only legitimate representative of China to the United Nations" and expelled the representatives of the Republic of China (Taiwan).
There are concerns that Beijing might try to block the WHO's invitation to Taiwan again this
TaiwanRelationsAct.com Webmaster's note: See below for Public Law 108-235 - the United States Law requesting Taiwan's participation in the WHO and the WHA:
Public Law 108–235
An Act To address the participation of Taiwan in the World Health Organization. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, SECTION 1. CONCERNING THE PARTICIPATION OF TAIWAN IN THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION. (a) FINDINGS.—Congress makes the following findings:
(1) Good health is important to every citizen of the world and access to the highest standards of health information and services is necessary to improve the public health.
(2) Direct and unobstructed participation in international health cooperation forums and programs is beneficial for all parts of the world, especially today with the great potential for the cross-border spread of various infectious diseases such as the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), tuberculosis, and malaria.
(3) Taiwan’s population of 23,500,000 people is greater than that of 3⁄4 of the member states already in the World Health Organization (WHO).
(4) Taiwan’s achievements in the field of health are substantial, including— (A) attaining— (i) 1 of the highest life expectancy levels in Asia; and (ii) maternal and infant mortality rates comparable to those of western countries; (B) eradicating such infectious diseases as cholera, smallpox, the plague, and polio; and (C) providing children with hepatitis B vaccinations.
(5) The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and its counterpart agencies in Taiwan have enjoyed close collaboration on a wide range of public health issues.
(6) In recent years Taiwan has expressed a willingness to assist financially and technically in international aid and health activities supported by the WHO.
(7) On January 14, 2001, an earthquake, registering between 7.6 and 7.9 on the Richter scale, struck El Salvador. In response, the Taiwanese Government sent 2 rescue teams, consisting of 90 individuals specializing in firefighting, medicine, and civil engineering. The Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs also donated $200,000 in relief aid to the Salvadoran Government.
(8) The World Health Assembly has allowed observers to participate in the activities of the organization, including the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1974, the Order of Malta, and the Holy See in the early 1950’s.
(9) The United States, in the 1994 Taiwan Policy Review, declared its intention to support Taiwan’s participation in appropriate international organizations.
(10) Public Law 106–137 required the Secretary of State to submit a report to Congress on efforts by the executive branch to support Taiwan’s participation in international organizations, in particular the WHO.
(11) In light of all benefits that Taiwan’s participation in the WHO can bring to the state of health not only in Taiwan, but also regionally and globally, Taiwan and its 23,500,000 people should have appropriate and meaningful participation in the WHO.
(12) On May 11, 2001, President Bush stated in a letter to Senator Murkowski that the United States ‘‘should find opportunities for Taiwan’s voice to be heard in international organizations in order to make a contribution, even if membership is not possible’’, further stating that the administration ‘‘has focused on finding concrete ways for Taiwan to benefit and contribute to the WHO’’.
(13) In his speech made in the World Medical Association on May 14, 2002, Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson announced ‘‘America’s work for a healthy world cuts across political lines. That is why my government supports Taiwan’s efforts to gain observership status at the World Health Assembly. We know this is a controversial issue, but we do not shrink from taking a public stance on it. The people of Taiwan deserve the same level of public health as citizens of every nation on earth, and we support them in their efforts to achieve it’’.
(14) The Government of the Republic of China on Taiwan, in response to an appeal from the United Nations and the United States for resources to control the spread of HIV/AIDS, donated $1,000,000 to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria in December 2002.
(15) In 2003, the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) caused 84 deaths in Taiwan.
(16) Avian influenza, commonly known as bird flu, has reemerged in Asia, with strains of the influenza reported by the People’s Republic of China, Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, Pakistan, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos.
(17) The SARS and avian influenza outbreaks illustrate that disease knows no boundaries and emphasize the importance of allowing all people access to the WHO.
(18) As the pace of globalization quickens and the spread of infectious disease accelerates, it is crucial that all people, including the people of Taiwan, be given the opportunity to participate in international health organizations such as the WHO.
(19) The Secretary of Health and Human Services acknowledged during the 2003 World Health Assembly meeting that ‘‘[t]he need for effective public health exists among all peoples’’. (b) PLAN.—The Secretary of State is authorized to—
(1) initiate a United States plan to endorse and obtain observer status for Taiwan at the annual week-long summit of the World Health Assembly each year in Geneva, Switzerland;
(2) instruct the United States delegation to the World Health Assembly in Geneva to implement that plan; and
(3) introduce a resolution in support of observer status for Taiwan at the summit of the World Health Assembly. (c) REPORT CONCERNING OBSERVER STATUS FOR TAIWAN AT THE SUMMIT OF THE WORLD HEALTH ASSEMBLY.—Not later than 30 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, and not later than April 1 of each year thereafter, the Secretary of State shall submit a report to the Congress, in unclassified form, describing the United States plan to endorse and obtain observer status for Taiwan at the annual week-long summit of the World Health Assembly (WHA) held by the World Health Organization (WHO) in May of each year in Geneva, Switzerland. Each report shall include the following:
(1) An account of the efforts the Secretary of State has made, following the last meeting of the World Health Assembly, to encourage WHO member states to promote Taiwan’s bid to obtain observer status.
(2) The steps the Secretary of State will take to endorse and obtain observer status at the next annual meeting of the World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland.
Approved June 14, 2004.
U.S. secretary of state reaffirms Six Assurances to Taiwan
February 9, 2017
The China Post
WASHINGTON -- New U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has recently reaffirmed the Six Assurances regarding U.S. policy toward Taiwan in response to questions from U.S. Senator Ben Cardin before he won confirmation as secretary of state from the Senate on Feb. 1.
In the written responses, Tillerson said that the Three U.S.-China Joint Communiques, the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) and the Six Assurances provide the foundation for U.S. policy toward China and Taiwan. The United States should continue to uphold its one China policy and support a peaceful and mutually agreeable cross-Taiwan strait outcome.
He was replying to Cardin's question as to whether the principles of the communiques and the TRA remain the important foundations of the U.S.-China relationship and whether he believes that the One China policy remains valid, or needs revision.
Tillerson also said that if confirmed, he intends to support the one China policy. "The people of Taiwan are friends of the United States and should not be treated as a bargaining chip. The U.S. commitment to Taiwan is both a legal commitment and a moral imperative," he said.
The new secretary of state gave the answer when asked whether he is concerned that President Donald Trump's suggestion in a media interview last December that the one China policy is negotiable may have created the impression that Taiwan is nothing more than a bargaining chip and might undermine U.S. ability to support Taiwan and protect U.S. interests in peace and stability in the region.
Tillerson responded that under this policy, the U.S. recognizes the People's Republic of China as the sole legal government of China and acknowledges the Chinese position that Taiwan is part of China.
As required by the TRA, the U.S. continues to provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character and maintains the capacity of the U.S. to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social or economic system, of the people of Taiwan, Tillerson wrote.
He noted that the United States also upholds the Six Assurances on U.S. policy toward Taiwan. If confirmed, he will continue these policies and work to ensure that the cross-strait military balance remains favorable to peace and stability, Tillerson said.
Tillerson first mentioned the Six Assurances at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee on Jan. 11.
Former U.S. president Ronald Reagan issued the Six Assurances in 1982.
The Six Assurances include U.S. pledges not to set a date for ending arms sales to Taiwan, not to hold prior consultations with China regarding arms sales to Taiwan, and not to play a mediation role between Taiwan and China.
They also include assurances that the U.S. will not revise the TRA, will not pressure Taiwan to enter into negotiations with China and will not formally recognize Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan.
Secretary of state nominee reaffirms Taiwan relations
January 13, 2017
WASHINGTON -- U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for his secretary of state reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to Taiwan, based on the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) and the Six Assurances, during a Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday for his nomination as the top U.S. diplomat.
"We've made an important commitment to Taiwan," through the TRA and the six assurances, and such commitments should be reaffirmed, said former Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, in response to questions from U.S. Senator Cory Gardner regarding the Trump administration's position on Taiwan and the "one China policy."
"I think it's important that Taiwan knows we're going to live up to the commitments under the Taiwan Relations Act and the six issues accord," he added.
"That in itself is a message," he said, adding that the U.S. should recognize the "balancing forces" in its relationship with China that need to be dealt with.
In response to the question on the Trump administration's position on the "one China policy," Tillerson said he was not aware of "any plans to alter the one China position."
Tillerson's remarks came after Trump said in an interview with Fox News in December that he saw no reason why the U.S. should continue abiding by the "one China" policy — under which Washington recognizes the People's Republic of China as the sole legal government of China, unless Beijing is prepared to enter into some kind of bargain.
His remarks have triggered serious concerns from China.
The TRA was enacted in 1979 to maintain commercial, cultural and other unofficial relations between the U.S. and Taiwan after Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing. The TRA also requires the U.S. "to provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character."
The Six Assurances given to Taiwan in 1982 by then-President Ronald Reagan include U.S. pledges not to set a date for ending arms sales to Taiwan, not to hold prior consultations with China regarding arms sales to Taiwan, and not to play a mediation role between Taiwan and China.
They also include assurances that the U.S. will not revise the TRA, alter its position regarding Taiwan's sovereignty, or pressure Taiwan to enter into negotiations with China.
Trump understands importance of Taiwan: adviser
Radio Taiwan International (RTI)
The new US president, Donald Trump, understands the importance of the friendship between his country and Taiwan. That’s according to Edwin Feulner, an adviser to the president’s transition team who visited Taiwan last year.
Concerns have grown in Taiwan that Trump may be poised to use Taiwan as a bargaining chip in his dealings with Beijing. His remarks before assuming the presidency indicated that Trump views longstanding US policy on China and Taiwan as negotiable. But speaking to Taiwanese reporters on the sidelines of a seminar, Feluner said he believes the president "understands both the unique relationship that the United States has with Taiwan because of the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979 and the fact that's the law of the land that absolutely binds every administration."
Feulner, a former president of the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank, said he will visit Taiwan in late February.
At Trump’s inauguration on January 20, Feulner met former premier Yu Shyi-kun, the head of the Taiwan delegation. Feulner also spoke with President Tsai Ing-wen by phone earlier this month. That was while Tsai was in Houston during a stopover on her way to Central America.
Post-TPP, Taiwan still hopeful on US trade ties
Radio Taiwan International (RTI)
January 24th, 2017
Taiwan hopes to enhance its trade relations with the United States after its withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). That’s the word from Cabinet spokesperson Hsu Kuo-yung on Tuesday.
The new US president, Donald Trump, signed an executive order on Monday to formally withdraw from the trade pact brokered by the Obama administration. The 12-country pact was designed to create a single market of goods and services twice the size of the European Union. Taiwan is not a signatory but had hoped to enter negotiations to join.
Hsu said Taiwan now hopes to improve trade ties with the US based on existing agreements and by relaxing trade regulations. He said, "[Joining the] TPP now seems very difficult after the United States pulled out, but we still hope to enhance economic and trade relations with the US based on the Taiwan-US Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA). On the other hand, we also hope that our regulations can be more relaxed to help boost our economy. In terms of working toward regional trade pacts, we have been diligent and will continue to be so."
Washington told to keep promises
(China Daily) 10:19, January 24, 2017
Official: Trump expected to respect one-China principle
China called on the new US administration to stick to the one-China principle and strictlylimit its relationship with Taiwan to the nonofficial level, Foreign Ministry spokeswomanHua Chunying said on Monday.
She made the remarks at a regular news conference when asked about China'sexpectations of the government led by Donald Trump, who was inaugurated as presidenton Friday. President Xi Jinping sent Trump a congratulatory message.
Every US administration should follow the commitment made by both the Republicansand Democrats to stick to the one-China policy, she said, adding that it is the foundationfor the Sino-US relationship.
China established channels to maintain communications with Trump's team after he wonthe election, she said.
In a 1978 joint communiqué, the US said that it recognized the one-China policy — thatthere is only one China and Taiwan is part of China, and the People's Republic of China isthe sole legitimate government representing China.
In his inaugural speech, Trump did not mention China directly. Last month, however, hechallenged the one-China principle by answering a congratulatory call from Taiwan leaderTsai Ing-wen.
China and the United States should respect each other's core interests and handle disputesin a proper manner, Hua said, adding that China's stance on its sovereignty issues is clear. She called on both sides to deal with economic and trade frictions prudently since "tradewar and confrontation will result in no winners".
Teng Jianqun, a senior researcher in US studies at the China Institute of InternationalStudies, said the Foreign Ministry's remarks constitute a message to the new US presidentthat China's core interests should not be challenged. "Washington should keep thepromises it made and abide by established policies," he said.
Beijing also expressed its hope of maintaining the current stability in the China-USrelationship under the Trump administration, he added.
Fu Mengzi, a Sino US relations researcher at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, said the "America first" policy espoused by Trump cannot be accomplished without the assistance of other countries, including China.
"All countries are closely connected within the context of globalization. Every singlecountry that wants to develop, change or prosper will need help from other countries," hesaid.
AIT official eyes stronger Taiwan-US ties under Trump
Radio Taiwan International (RTI)
January 22nd, 2017
The managing director of the American Institute in Taiwan's (AIT) Washington Office said Saturday that he expects Taiwan-US relations to improve during President Donald Trump’s tenure.
The AIT is the de facto US embassy in the absence of official ties between Taiwan and the United States.
The AIT official – John Norris – made the comments during an annual meeting with overseas Taiwanese in the US capital. He said the United States will continue to commit to the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), which governs US ties with Taiwan. Norris said the Asia-Pacific region is of interest to the US and that peaceful development across the Taiwan Strait benefits the US.
Norris said that while each administration has a different approach to maintaining US interests in the region, the TRA will remain the top guide for handling related affairs.
Taiwan's representative to the US, Stanley Kao, who also attended the meeting, said he is optimistic about bilateral ties under the Trump administration.
Revisit the ‘One-China Policy’
A closer U.S. military relationship with Taiwan would help counter Beijing’s belligerence.
The Wall Street Journal
January 16, 2017
The People’s Republic of China sent its aircraft carrier, Liaoning, through the Strait of Taiwan early this month, responding at least in part to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen’s phone conversation congratulating US president-elect Donald Trump.
That’s Beijing’s style: make an unacceptable long-distance phone call, and an aircraft carrier shows up in your backyard. It is akin to proclaiming the South China Sea a Chinese province and constructing islands in international waters to house military bases; to declaring a provocative Air Defence Identification Zone in the East China Sea; and to seizing Singaporean military equipment recently transiting Hong Kong for annual military exercises on Taiwan.
It is high time to revisit the “one-China policy” and decide what the US thinks it means, 45 years after the Shanghai Communique. Donald Trump has said the policy is negotiable. Negotiation should not mean Washington gives and Beijing takes. We need strategically coherent priorities, reflecting not 1972 but 2017, encompassing more than trade and monetary policy, and specifically including Taiwan. Let’s see how an increasingly belligerent China responds.
Constantly chanting “one-China policy” is a favourite Beijing negotiating tactic: pick a benign-sounding slogan; persuade foreign interlocutors to accept it; and then redefine it to Beijing’s satisfaction, dragging the unwary foreigners along for the ride. To Beijing, “one China” means the PRC is the sole legitimate “China”, as sloganised in “the three nos”: no Taiwanese independence; no two Chinas; no one China, one Taiwan. For too long, the US has unthinkingly succumbed to this wordplay.
Even in the Shanghai Communique, however, Washington merely “acknowledges” that “all Chinese” believe “there is but one China”, of which Taiwan is part. Taiwanese public opinion surveys for decades have shown fewer and fewer citizens describing themselves as “Chinese”. Who allowed them to change their minds? Washington has always said reunification had to come peacefully and by mutual agreement. Mutual agreement hasn’t come in 67 years, and won’t in any foreseeable future, especially given China’s increasingly brutal reinterpretation of another slogan — “one country, two systems” in Hong Kong.
Beijing and its acolytes expected that Taiwan would simply collapse. It hasn’t. Chiang Kai-shek’s 1949 retreat was not a temporary respite before final surrender. Neither the Shanghai Communique nor then US president Jimmy Carter’s 1978 derecognition of the Republic of China persuaded Taiwan to go gentle into that good night — especially after congress enacted the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979.
Eventually Taiwan even became a democracy, with the 1996 popular election of Lee Teng-hui, the peaceful, democratic transfer of power to the opposition party in 2000, and further peaceful transfers in 2008 and last year. So inconsiderate of those free-thinking Taiwanese.
What should the US do now? In addition to a diplomatic ladder of escalation, we can take concrete steps helpful to US interests. Here is one prompted by China’s recent impoundment of Singapore’s military equipment. Spoiler alert: Beijing will not approve.
America could enhance its East Asia military posture by increasing US military sales to Taiwan and by again stationing military personnel and assets there, probably negotiating favourable financial terms. We need not approximate Douglas MacArthur’s image of Taiwan as an “unsinkable aircraft carrier”, or renegotiate a mutual defence treaty. Basing rights and related activity do not imply a full defence alliance. Our activities would not be dissimilar to Singapore’s, although they could be more extensive. The Taiwan Relations Act is expansive enough to encompass such a relationship, so new legislative authority is unnecessary.
Some may object that a US military presence would violate the Shanghai Communique, but the language of the Taiwan Relations Act should take precedence. Circumstances in the region are fundamentally different from 1972, as Beijing would be the first to proclaim. Nearby Asian governments would cite the enormous increase in Chinese military power and belligerence. Most important, effectively-permanent changes in the Taiwan-China relationship have occurred, making much of the communiqué obsolete. The doctrine of rebus sic stantibus — things thus standing — justifies taking a different perspective than in 1972.
Taiwan’s geographic location is closer to East Asia’s mainland and the South China Sea than either Okinawa or Guam, giving US forces greater flexibility for rapid deployment throughout the region should the need arise. Washington might also help ease tensions with Tokyo by redeploying at least some US forces from Okinawa, a festering problem in the US-Japan relationship. And the current leadership of the Philippines offers little chance of increasing military and other co-operation there in the foreseeable future.
Guaranteeing freedom of the seas, deterring military adventurism, and preventing unilateral territorial annexations are core American interests in East and Southeast Asia. Today, as opposed to 1972, a closer military relationship with Taiwan would be a significant step towards achieving these objectives. If China disagrees, by all means let’s talk.
John Bolton, a former US ambassador to the UN, is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad
U.S. lawmakers introduce Taiwan Travel Act
By Tony Liao and Y.F. Low
Washington, Jan. 13 (CNA) Several pro-Taiwan members of the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday jointly introduced legislation that encourages visits between the United States and Taiwan at all levels.
The Taiwan Travel Act was initiated by Rep. Steve Chabot with co-sponsorship from Ed Royce and Brad Sherman, ahead of a transit stop in San Francisco by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on her way back to Taiwan after a visit to Central America.
Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said as a thriving democracy, Taiwan is vital to U.S. interests in the region.
"By encouraging more frequent visits between our two governments -- including at the highest levels -- we will further strengthen the critical U.S.-Taiwan partnership," he said in a statement.
The bill states that since the enactment of the Taiwan Relations Act, ties between the United States and Taiwan have suffered from insufficient high-level communication due to the self-imposed restrictions that the United States maintains on visits by high ranking officials to Taiwan.
It should be the policy of the United States to allow officials at all levels of the U.S. government, including cabinet-level national security officials, general officers, and other executive branch officials, to travel to Taiwan to meet their Taiwanese counterparts, the bill says.
High-level officials of Taiwan should also be allowed to enter the United States, under conditions which demonstrate appropriate respect for the dignity of such officials, and to meet with U.S. officials, including those from the Department of State and the Department of Defense and other cabinet agencies, according to the bill.
Also, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office, and any other instrumentality established by Taiwan, should be permitted to conduct business in the United States, including activities which involve participation by members of Congress, officials of federal, state, or local governments of the United States, or any high-level official of Taiwan, it states.
Chabot introduced a similar bill last September, but it failed to pass before the 114th Congress ended on Jan. 3.
Trump unchanged on Taiwan policy: Foreign ministry
Radio Taiwan International (RTI)
Foreign ministry spokesperson Eleanor Wang says US President-elect Donald Trump’s Taiwan policy has not changed. Wang was speaking on Thursday after a statement by Trump’s secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, at his Senate confirmation hearing.
Tillerson confirmed the United States’ promises to Taiwan in the Taiwan Relations Act and the Six Assurances. These form the cornerstones of Taiwan-US relations in the absence of formal diplomatic ties.
Wang said Tillerson’s statement indicates that the incoming Trump administration is aware of the importance of Taiwan-US relations for maintaining peace and stability in the Asia Pacific and the world.
"[Tillerson mentioned] the important role that Taiwan-US relations play in US foreign policy. He also said in his statement that his office will continue to uphold US promises concerning Taiwan’s security. We welcome and appreciate such a statement."
That was foreign ministry spokesperson Eleanor Wang speaking on Thursday.
Taiwan Strait Crisis of 1995-1996: Lessons Learned for Policy
New analysis in Global Taiwan Brief – Volume 2, Issue 1, January 4, 2017
By: Shirley Kan
Shirley Kan, retired specialist in Asian security affairs who worked for the US Congress at the non-partisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) and a member of the Advisory Board of GTI.
After the phone call on December 2, 2016, when Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen congratulated President-elect Donald Trump, mainstream media and analysts sounded the alarms and invoked the Taiwan Strait Crisis of 1995-1996 to raise the specter of tension due to “provocations” from Taipei and Washington that “surprised” Beijing so it had to respond.
There are the typical references to US “mishandling” of the “visa fight” for Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui’s 1995 visit that resulted in that “missile” crisis. In this conventional narrative, the problematic parties are the US politicians and Taiwan’s president who push to change policy and thus “trigger” a crisis that upsets the “status quo” with China. A visa supposedly led to ballistic missiles and aircraft carriers.
However, a key lesson learned is that this conventional assumption does not serve US and allied interests in maintaining peace and stability. An informed narrative would dispel dangerous misperceptions and counter China’s political warfare that justifies its threats by blaming the United States or Taiwan (for a visa or call).
According to the conventional assumption, Congressional pressure forced the reversal of President Clinton’s decision that ultimately granted a visa to President Lee to speak at his alma mater, Cornell University. Giving the visa was an adjustment in policy, because, in May 1994, President Clinton allowed Lee to make only a “refueling stop” for “rest” in Honolulu’s airport but denied him a visa. Congress then overwhelmingly passed the bipartisan H.Con.Res. 53, but it was nonbinding legislation to express the sense of Congress that the President should welcome a visit by Lee to Cornell.
Yet, Beijing did not so-call “respond” to a mishandling of a visa by Washington that was manipulated by Taipei. China’s rulers already had decided by 1993 on a new Main Strategic Direction（主要戰略方向) to build military capabilities oriented to target Taiwan. As signals of this critical decision, China’s leadership used especially harsh, belligerent language in warnings to Taiwan in 1992 and 1993. Moreover, in January 1993, Central Military Commission (CMC) Chairman Jiang Zemin gave a speech that directed the new “Military Strategic Guidelines for the New Period” (新時期軍事戰略方針). The Guidelines apparently oriented the People’s Liberation Army (PLA)’s Main Strategic Direction to the area off China’s east coast, primarily Taiwan. In 1993, China issued a White Paper on Taiwan that explicitly cited the use of military options.
The PLA’s threat to Taiwan has grown since the early 1990s. China did not suddenly decide to order PLA exercises in 1995 to intimidate Taiwan as a so-called “response” to Lee’s visit to the United States. Nonetheless, the timing of military exercises in 1995-1996 also served objectives in political warfare against the United States and against voters in Taiwan’s first direct, democratic presidential election.
Also, the PLA did not suddenly get M-9 missiles to threaten Taiwan after Lee visited the US. On June 12, 1995, just three days after Lee’s speech at Cornell, there was a warning that the PLA would use missiles. As an important indicator of this provocative move, the Liberation Army Daily published an article on the utility of “conventional” ballistic missiles. On top of high-level orders to the PLA, it had the opportunity of using an inventory of M-9 short-range ballistic missiles after China canceled a sale of the missiles to Syria due to US diplomatic pressure and sanctions since the late 1980s. In the early 1990s, China promised to abide by the international Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).
Thus, the PLA did not plan, deploy units, and execute large-scale exercises with missiles under a new military strategy with multiple phases and reviews by senior-ranking generals in just months after a US visa for Lee. The extensive exercises sought to train for capabilities that the CMC directed by 1993.
What were short-term lessons for the Clinton and Bush Administrations in changing policy? First, US military and defense officials needed closer communication and cooperation with Taiwan. After the 1995-1996 crisis, the Defense Department, in 1997, started bilateral talks on national security with Taiwan’s top officials in defense and security, which also have been called the Monterey Talks. Second, the US military also needed to improve its understanding of Taiwan’s military capabilities. Starting in 1997, the Pentagon conducted its own series of assessments of Taiwan’s requirements for self-defense. Third, in 2001, the US restored observations of Taiwan’s Han Kuang exercises and approved key arms sales.
What are lessons for current consideration as Washington moves forward in crafting policy?
First, clear, credible statements and actions are critical. Policymakers need to be clear about consequences and signals. The President needs to restore a clear, credible arms sales process with regular decisions and notifications to Congress of arms sales in compliance with the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA).
Second, US deterrence using shows of force has its limits in dealing with the PLA. Therefore, Taiwan needs to be stronger in deterrence and self-defense. Taiwan needs to upgrade its military with more urgency and resources in the face of China’s threats of coercion or conflict, understanding that the PLA is operationalizing the targeting of Taiwan in peacetime, not just in case of war.
Third, the President’s close consultation with Congress is critical for peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.
Fourth, in case of another crisis, the President should consult with Congress under Section 3(c) of the TRA, which requires the President to inform Congress promptly of any threat to the security or the social or economic system of the people on Taiwan and to determine the US response along with Congress. In March 1996, President Clinton refused to invoke Section 3(c).
Fifth, the United States needs closer communication with both Taiwan and China to dispel misperceptions. Washington needs to deal with dangers of divergence with Taipei.
Sixth, American leadership is needed to support the democratic legitimacy of Taiwan with international space.
Seventh, the United States and Taiwan should conduct exercises for crisis-management, interoperability, and training.
Eighth, Taiwan should seek support from Congress, not only focusing on the President and his officials. Ninth, Taiwan needs to improve strategic communication to gain international support and to counter the PLA’s political warfare in peacetime.
Last but not least, governments and news media need the right record to replace reporting and propaganda that blames Taiwan for “trouble” and “tensions” instead of Beijing’s provocations and belligerence.
The main point: An accurate narrative dispels the blame on a visa for the Taiwan Strait Crisis. The PLA’s provocative, dangerous military exercises in 1995 and 1996 resulted from decisions made in the early 1990s. The new Trump administration has an opportunity to improve interactions with Taiwan, rather than responding belatedly in case of another crisis (like in 1995-1996) to adjust the approach to policy in order to maintain stability and peace.
1. This brief article draws from the author’s longer presentation at a conference that Project 2049 Institute held on December 13, 2016, in Washington, DC, on the 20th anniversary of that Taiwan Strait Crisis.
2. A classic example of the conventional narrative is found in Paul Godwin and Alice Miller’s study published by the National Defense University in 2013, China’s Forbearance Has Limits. It states: “The 1995–1996 Taiwan Strait crisis was triggered by the decision of the Clinton administration— after months of advising Beijing that it would not do so—to grant Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui a visa to visit his alma mater, Cornell University, where he had earned a Ph.D. in 1968 in agricultural economics. … In summary, Beijing deployed its warnings hierarchy at a high, authoritative level in reaction to a US reversal of policy that clearly surprised and embarrassed it. Its warnings were calculated to press Washington to reverse itself, and when that failed, it responded with political steps to express its displeasure, complemented by a prolonged series of military exercises intended to underscore its readiness to defend its sovereignty against further slight.”
US says new law not a reply to cross-strait conditions
The China Post
December 29, 2016, 12:02 am
WASHINGTON -- The U.S. has a strong security relationship with Taiwan and its recent legislation on military exchanges with Taiwan was not aimed at highlighting tensions across the Taiwan Strait, the U.S. State Department said Tuesday.
"Our policy with regard to Taiwan is exactly the same, hasn't changed," State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner said at a daily pressing briefing. "We believe in a 'one China' policy. There's been no change to that policy."
In response to questions about the National Defense Authorization Act for 2017 that was signed into law Dec. 23 amid strained cross-strait ties, Toner said the U.S. was not seeking to highlight cross-strait tensions. He also said the U.S. had "a strong security relationship with Taiwan."
Questions on the issue were raised at the press briefing after U.S. President Barack Obama on Dec. 23 signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, which included for the first time a section on exchanges of senior military personnel between Taiwan and the U.S.
The bill cleared the Senate in a 92-7 vote on Dec. 8 after it was approved in the House of Representatives by a vote of 375-34 on Dec. 2.
Section 1284 of the act states that it is the sense of Congress that "the Secretary of Defense should carry out a program of exchanges of senior military officers and senior officials between the United States and Taiwan designed to improve military to military relations between the United States and Taiwan."
It defines an exchange as "an activity, exercise, event, or observation opportunity between members of the Armed Forces and officials of the Department of Defense, on the one hand, and armed forces personnel and officials of Taiwan, on the other hand."
TRA, Six Assurances most important US commitments: Ministry
Foreign ministry official Douglas Hsu said Tuesday that Taiwan hopes that the United States will uphold its commitment to Taiwan’s interests. Hsu was speaking after remarks by US President-elect Donald Trump that his administration may not necessarily maintain a "One China" policy.
Hsu said the "One China" policy held by the US until now includes the Taiwan Relations Act and the Six Assurances. He said these are the two issues that matter to Taiwan. He said, "The Taiwan Relations Act and the Six Assurances are important factors in the Taiwan-US relations. What is important to the US regarding the One China policy? And what aspects of the policy matter to China? We hope that the US will uphold its defense commitments to Taiwan under the Taiwan Relations Act and the commitment to arms sales under the Six Assurances. These are the things that matter to us."
The Taiwan Relations Act of 1979 provides the legal basis for the unofficial relations between Taiwan and the US. The Six Assurances were added a few years later during the Reagan administration.
Hsu said most of what is speculated as Trump’s view on Taiwan policy comes from media reports or exaggerations of his remarks. He said it is still too early to know what Trump’s policies will eventually be. Hsu said the foreign ministry’s responsibility is to continue to express Taiwan’s expectations to the president-elect’s transition team.
Meanwhile, the White House’s spokesperson has said the Obama administration abides by its One China policy and will not use Taiwan or Taiwan-US relations as a bargaining chip.
Hsu said Taiwan and the US have emphasized the value and importance of the relationship between the two sides under the eight-year Obama administration.
NSB: Phone call doesn’t signal change US-Taiwan-China ties
National Security Bureau Director Peng Sheng-chu says that a call between President Tsai Ing-wen and US President-elect Donald Trump does not signal any change in US-Taiwan-China relations.
The call was the first known time that Taiwan’s president has spoken directly to a US president or president-elect since diplomatic ties ended in 1979. But at the Legislature Wednesday, Peng told lawmakers he does not believe the call represents a shift.
"This incident initially caught China by surprise. But since President Tsai’s dialogue with Mr. Trump, the Chinese Communists have been somewhat reserved and passive about expressing their dissatisfaction. But now it seems like some of their scholars are expressing their dissatisfaction about it," said Peng.
Peng said it will take time to see whether Trump’s Asia policy will be in Taiwan’s interests. He said though there has been some sharp criticism of the phone call by Chinese academics, the official stance has been somewhat tolerant. Peng said he doesn’t think there will be any major changes from the Chinese side in the near future.
Trump’s Taiwan phone call was long planned, say people who were involved
The Washington Post
By Anne Gearan, Philip Rucker and Simon Denyer
December 4th, 2016
What is the story behind Trump's phone call with Taiwan?
Donald Trump’s protocol-breaking telephone call with Taiwan’s leader was an intentionally provocative move that establishes the incoming president as a break with the past, according to interviews with people involved in the planning.
The historic communication — the first between leaders of the United States and Taiwan since 1979 — was the product of months of quiet preparations and deliberations among Trump’s advisers about a new strategy for engagement with Taiwan that began even before he became the Republican presidential nominee, according to people involved in or briefed on the talks.
The call also reflects the views of hard-line advisers urging Trump to take a tough opening line with China, said others familiar with the months of discussion about Taiwan and China.
Trump and his advisers have sought to publicly portray the call the president-elect took from Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday as a routine congratulatory call. Trump noted on Twitter that she placed the call.
“He took the call, accepted her congratulations and good wishes and it was precisely that,” Vice President-elect Mike Pence said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”
Trump’s team defends phone call with Taiwan’s leader
Vice President-elect Mike Pence and President-elect Donald Trump’s senior transition adviser Kellyanne Conway on Dec. 4 defended Trump’s phone call with Taiwan’s leader Tsai Ing-wen.(Bastien Inzaurralde/The Washington Post)
That glosses over the extensive and turbulent history of U.S. relations with Taiwan and the political importance the island and its democracy hold for many Republican foreign policy specialists.
Some critics portrayed the move as the thoughtless blundering of a foreign policy novice, but other experts said it appeared calculated to signal a new, robust approach to relations with China.
China reacted sternly to the Taiwan call, suggesting that it shows Trump’s inexperience.
Trump sent two Twitter messages Sunday that echoed his campaign-stump blasts against China.
Conway: 'Everybody should just calm down' about Trump's Taiwan call
President-elect Donald Trump's campaign manager Kellyanne Conway downplayed the fervor over his phone call with Taiwan's president. "All he did was receive a phone call. I think everybody should just calm down. He's aware of what our nation's policy is," she said.(Reuters)
“Did China ask us if it was OK to devalue their currency (making it hard for our companies to compete), heavily tax our products going into their country (the U.S. doesn’t tax them) or to build a massive military complex in the middle of the South China Sea?” he asked. “I don’t think so!”
The United States does impose a tax on Chinese goods — 2.9 percent for non-farm goods and 2.5 percent for agricultural products.
Some of the GOP’s most ardent Taiwan proponents are playing active roles in Trump’s transition team, and others in the conservative foreign policy community see a historic opportunity to reset relations with Taiwan and reposition it as a more strategic ally in East Asia.
Several leading members of Trump’s transition team are considered hawkish on China and friendly toward Taiwan, including incoming chief of staff Reince Priebus.
Indeed, advisers explicitly warned last month that relations with China were in for a shake-up.
In an article for Foreign Policy magazine titled “Donald Trump’s Peace Through Strength Vision for the Asia-Pacific,” Peter Navarro and Alexander Gray described Taiwan as a “beacon of democracy in Asia” and complained that its treatment by the Obama administration was “egregious.”
The article, flagged to China experts as a significant policy blueprint, described Taiwan as “the most militarily vulnerable U.S. partner anywhere in the world” and called for a comprehensive arms deal to help it defend itself against China.
Friday’s phone call does not necessarily mean that will happen, but it does look like the first sign of a recalibration by a future Trump administration, experts say.
It was planned weeks ahead by staffers and Taiwan specialists on both sides, according to people familiar with the plans.
Immediately after Trump won the Nov. 8 election, his staffers compiled a list of foreign leaders with whom to arrange calls. “Very early on, Taiwan was on that list,” said Stephen Yates, a national security official during the presidency of George W. Bush and an expert on China and Taiwan. “Once the call was scheduled, I was told that there was a briefing for President-elect Trump. They knew that there would be reaction and potential blowback.”
Alex Huang, a spokesman for Tsai, told the Reuters news agency, “Of course both sides agreed ahead of time before making contact.”
Tsai’s office said she had told Trump during the phone call that she hoped the United States “would continue to support more opportunities for Taiwan to participate in international issues.”
Tsai will have sympathetic ears in the White House. Priebus is reported to have visited Taiwan with a Republican delegation in 2011 and in October 2015, meeting Tsai before she was elected president. Taiwan Foreign Minister David Lee called him a friend of Taiwan and said his appointment as Trump’s chief of staff was “good news” for the island, according to local news media.
Edward J. Feulner, a longtime former president of the Heritage Foundation, has for decades cultivated extensive ties with Taiwan and is serving as an adviser to Trump’s transition team.
At the Republican National Convention in July, Trump’s allies inserted a little-noticed phrase into the party’s platform reaffirming support for six key assurances to Taiwan made by President Ronald Reagan in 1982 — a priority for the Taiwan government. Also written into the 2016 platform was tougher language about China than had been in the party’s platform in its previous iteration four years ago.
“We salute the people of Taiwan, with whom we share the values of democracy, human rights, a free market economy, and the rule of law,” the platform said, adding that the current documents governing U.S.-Taiwan relations should stand but adding, “China’s behavior has negated the optimistic language of our last platform concerning our future relations with China.”
Yates, who helped write that portion of the platform, said Trump made clear at the time that he wanted to recalibrate relationships around the world and that the U.S. posture toward China was “a personal priority.”
About the same time, Navarro, one of Trump’s top economic and Asia advisers, penned an op-ed saying that the United States must not “dump Taiwan” and needs a comprehensive strategy to bolster what he termed “a beacon of democracy.”
The president-elect’s advisers have said the communication does not signify any formal shift in long-standing U.S. relations with Taiwan or China, even as they acknowledge that the decision to break with nearly 40 years of U.S. diplomatic practice was a calculated choice.
“Of course all head-of-state calls are well planned,” said Richard Grenell, a former State Department official who has advised the Trump transition effort.
Grenell and others noted that the call came about two weeks after Trump had spoken with Chinese President Xi Jinping and that it was not substantive.
“There was no policy discussion, and everyone involved is well aware of the ‘One China’ policy,” Grenell said, referring to the Nixon-era shift that established formal direct ties between Washington and Beijing.
The United States maintains a military relationship with Taiwan, which Beijing considers a province, but closed its embassy there in 1979. Republican administrations since then have emphasized Taiwan’s democracy and flirted with the idea of a shift in policy, but none have held public discussions with a Taiwanese leader.
“There are a lot of things that previous Republican presidents, and Democratic presidents, would do that Donald Trump won’t do,” Grenell said. “He’s a man that understands that typical Washington rules are not always best for our foreign policy.”
During the campaign, Trump’s fiery rhetoric against China resonated with his supporters, especially those in the economically beleaguered Rust Belt states where he registered unexpected wins. Trump accused China of “raping” the United States by stealing trade secrets, manipulating its currency and subsidizing its industries. He vowed to institute tough new policies designed to crack down on the Chinese and extract concessions, such as by imposing higher tariffs on goods manufactured there.
By irritating if not angering the Chinese government with his talk with Tsai, Trump showed his core supporters in the United States that he would follow through with his promise to get tough on China, some observers said.
“He campaigned on an ‘America first’ platform,” GOP pollster Frank Luntz said. “Calls like this may upset the diplomats, but they communicate to Americans that he’s not going to play by the same rules and isn’t just talking differently but will act differently.”
Walter Lohman, director of the Heritage Foundation’s Asian Studies Center, said the call with Tsai “was deliberate. It was not an accident. Obviously he made a conscious decision to have the call arranged. She called him, but there was an agreement for it.”
Gordon Chang, an Asia expert and author of “ The Coming Collapse of China ,” said Trump’s tweet Friday night that he had just accepted a call from Tsai was “not credible.”
“This has all the hallmarks of a prearranged phone call,” Chang said. “It doesn’t make sense that Tsai out of the blue would call Donald Trump. She is not known for taking big leaps into the unknown, and it would be politically embarrassing when it was learned that she called Trump and he would not take her call.”
Kellyanne Conway, a senior adviser to Trump’s transition team, brushed aside questions about what the call signals about the incoming administration’s priorities and policy on China.
“All he did was receive a phone call,” Conway told reporters Sunday at Trump Tower in New York. “Everybody should just calm down. He’s aware of what our nation’s policy is.”
GOP lawmakers praise Trump for Taiwan call
BY SCOTT WONG AND PAULINA FIROZI - 12/02/16
Republican lawmakers have praised president-elect Donald Trumpfollowing the news that he spoke on the phone with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen.
Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) applauded Trump for “making a strong statement” with the historic conversation.
"I commend [President-elect] Trump for reaching out to the democratically-elected President of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen,” Salmon said in a statement to The Hill.
Salmon chairs the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific. He is a former missionary in Taiwan, and attended the recent inauguration of the new Taiwanese president.
"America has always been a champion of democratic values and individual freedoms, and I applaud the President-elect for making a strong statement in support of those values around the world,” he added.
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), a Trump loyalist who also serves on the Foreign Affairs panel, downplayed the phone call in a statement to The Hill.
"President-elect Trump recognizes that reaching out to every world leader is a critical component of an effective foreign policy," Meadows said. "It's not policy, it's a phone call."
In a statement released Friday night, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) said Trump's move "reaffirms our commitment to the only democracy on Chinese soil."
"America's policy toward Taiwan is governed by the Taiwan Relations Act, under which we maintain close ties with Taiwan and support its democratic system," Cotton said. "I commend President-elect Trump for his conversation with President Tsai Ing-wen."
Cotton added the he has met with Taiwan's leader and he is "confident she expressed to the president-elect the same desire for closer relations with the United States."
House GOP Policy Committee Chairman Luke Messer (R-Ind.), a member of the leadership team, said he "loved" Trump's bold move.
"Taiwan is a great friend of America and I see nothing wrong with the president-elect letting the world see that," Messer said in an interview with The Hill. "To me, it's ironic that some who call Obama enlightened for his outreach to murderous communist thugs in Cuba would now criticize Trump for acknowledging Taiwan."
"I have visited Taiwan twice in recent years," he added. "And anyone who has knows that Taiwan is a democratic republic, a great trade partner with America, and a nation that values freedom and the rule of law."
Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) took to Twitter to praise the president-elect.
"Plaudits to President-elect Trump for his historic phone call to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen. Strong message to China. New day in Asia,” he wrote.
Plaudits to President-elect Trump for his historic phone call to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen. Strong message to China. New day in Asia.
— Rep. Pete King (@RepPeteKing) December 3, 2016
Trump defended his conversation with the Taiwan president, which many are certain will anger China.
No U.S. president or president-elect has spoken with the leader of Taiwan in decades, since the countries cut diplomatic ties.
"The President of Taiwan CALLED ME today to wish me congratulations on winning the Presidency. Thank you!” Trump tweeted Friday night.
In a statement following the news of Trump’s conversation, the White House said it was not given any advance notice about Trump’s call.
— Updated at 9:25 p.m.
Taiwan-US ties to progress under Trump: official
The China Post
November 14, 2016, 12:19 am TWN
NEW YORK -- Taiwan's relations with the United States are expected to keep moving steadily forward over the next four years, Taiwan's representative to the United States said Saturday, addressing concerns about possible changes in U.S. foreign policy when President-elect Donald Trump takes office in January.
Under the framework of the Taiwan Relations Act, bilateral cooperation and exchanges on trade, cultural, educational and security affairs will continue, Stanley Kao (高碩泰) said at a gathering of the Taiwan Merchants Association of New York.
In the five months since Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office, Taipei and Washington have been interacting with each other under the principles of mutual trust, low-profile exchanges and no surprises, Kao said, adding that bilateral ties have remained stable and strong.
He said Taiwan still has a goal of taking part in the second round of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations and will wait to see how things develop under the Trump administration and whether there are other options or possibilities.
Regardless of the fate of the TPP, Taiwan's resolve to liberalize trade will not fade and it will make the necessary preparations to do so, Kao said.
He later told reporters that if the new U.S. government did not support regional or multilateral organizations, one alternative for Taiwan would be to seek stronger trade links with the U.S. and establish bilateral agreements with the other 11 founding members of the TPP.
As America's ninth-largest trading partner, Taiwan will remind the new U.S. government of its contribution and importance, in the hope of signing a bilateral investment pact under the Taiwan-U.S. Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, Kao said.
During his campaign, Trump said he would dismantle the TPP if he was elected president. Since Trump's election victory on Nov. 8, the administration of incumbent U.S. President Barack Obama has suspended its efforts to seek congressional approval of the TPP, leaving the decision on its fate to the new administration that will take office in January.
Taiwan-United States ties will remain strong, says James Moriarty
The China Post
October 29, 2016
The new chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) vowed Friday during a visit to Taiwan to further strengthen the already strong ties between the United States and Taiwan.
James Moriarty, who took over as AIT chairman in early October, said relations between the two sides will remain unchanged when asked if there would be any change in the development of bilateral ties after a new president takes office in the U.S. early next year.
Noting Taiwan's economic development and democratization, Moriarty said "support for Taiwan in America is very broad-based."
"Taiwan is viewed as a successful, mature democracy, a prosperous economy that we need to have a close relationship with," he told CNA in an interview. "There is no debate in America right now about the future of U.S.-Taiwan ties."
He praised Taiwan's economic development, saying that Taiwan's population of only 23 million is smaller than that of the U.S. state of Texas, but Taiwan has still managed to become the U.S.'s ninth largest trading partner.
Moriarty, who is visiting Taiwan for the first time since he took up the new post, also noted cooperation between Taiwan and the U.S. in several areas, citing as an example the Global Cooperation and Training Framework (GCTF).
Taiwan and the U.S. signed a memorandum of understanding on the GCTF last year to expand bilateral cooperation in international public health, humanitarian assistance and other global issues.
They have since co-organized several workshops in Taiwan on the fight against Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and dengue fever, as well as women's issues and e-business.
In addition to the ties between Taiwan and the United States, Moriarty also reaffirmed the U.S.'s stance of supporting Taiwan's membership in international organizations where statehood is not a requirement and meaningful participation by Taiwan in organizations where statehood is required to become a member.
In response to questions about Taiwan's failure to attend the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) assembly this year due to China's objections, he expressed support for Taiwan's "meaningful participation" in the organization, saying that it would add a lot to technical discussions on global aviation safety.
"We will continue to work with Taiwan to address these questions and to look for organizations where we can help the voice of Taiwan be heard," he said.
Asked if the U.S. has sensed that Beijing is stepping up its suppression of Taiwan's international participation, he said "that's hard to tell."
"We will look to see and continue discussing these issues with the authorities here but we'll also be holding discussions in Beijing and trying to understand if there is a trend or if you're seeing specific instances that don't amount to a trend," he said.
TPP 'Solid Agreement'
In response to questions about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade bloc for the Asia-Pacific region, Moriarty noted U.S. President Barack Obama's efforts to ensure the passage of the trade deal by the U.S. Congress before he steps down in January.
Moriarty expressed hope that whoever is elected as the next president will realize that TPP is "a very solid agreement and is very much in the interest of the United States." It is also important for partners in Asia to see the agreement be passed by the Congress, he said.
Commenting on the issue of imports of U.S. pork containing ractopamine, a leanness-enhancing drug that is banned in Taiwan, he said the issue needs further discussion.
"We believe that if Taiwan is genuinely interested in joining the TPP, it needs to move to a broad-based acceptance of international standards based on scientific evidence," he said.
The Codex Alimentarius Commission, a United Nations body that sets food standards, voted in July 2012 by a 69-67 margin to allow ractopamine residues in pork, beef and turkey.
Soon after the Codex vote, Taiwan formally eased the ban on U.S. beef imports containing traces of ractopamine, which led to the resumption of major trade talks between Taiwan and the U.S.
But the ban of ractopamine in pork has remained in Taiwan because of concerns that even trace amounts of the drug could be harmful to people's health given the large consumption of pork among Taiwanese.
With regard to the TPP, he said the focus for the time being is to have the agreement ratified by all 12 founding members.
The 12 founding members are the United States, Canada, Chile, Mexico, Peru, Australia, Brunei, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Vietnam and Japan.
Moriarty, who is on a visit that will last until Saturday, has decades of experience in Asia, including Taiwan, at senior leadership levels in the U.S. government and the private sector, according to the AIT, which represents U.S. interests in Taiwan in the absence of bilateral diplomatic ties.
He has served as U.S. ambassador to Bangladesh and Nepal, special assistant to the president of the United States, senior director for Asia at the National Security Council (NSC) and director for China affairs at the NSC, the AIT said.
Moriarty headed the political section at AIT from 1995 to 1998 and since retiring from the U.S. foreign service in 2011, has worked in the private sector and as an independent consultant, it said.
U.S. reiterates support for Taiwan's Interpol participation
By Rita Cheng, Tony Liao, Emmanuelle Tzeng and Y.F. Low
Washington, Oct. 26 (CNA) The U.S. Department of State reiterated Washington's support for Taiwan's meaningful participation in the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) Wednesday, ahead of the organization's annual assembly next month.
The United States has long opposed measures adopted by international organizations that unilaterally determine the status of the Taiwanese people without their consent, said Grace Choi, spokeswoman for the State Department's East Asian and Pacific Affairs Bureau.
"As a general matter, we support Taiwan's membership in international organizations where statehood is not a requirement, and support its meaningful participation, as appropriate, in organizations where its membership is not possible," Choi told CNA in an e-mail.
"We remain committed to Taiwan's meaningful participation in organizations like Interpol, the World Health Organization, and the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change," she said.
Recognizing that combating cross-border crime is a shared responsibility, the U.S. supports constructive efforts to cooperate and share information to address international crime, and welcomes the contribution of the Taiwanese people, she added.
Taiwan was forced to withdraw from Interpol in 1984 when China joined the organization.
Both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives passed a bill in March requiring the U.S. secretary of state to develop a strategy to obtain observer status for Taiwan in Interpol. The bill was then signed into law by President Barack Obama.
There has been no confirmation that Taiwan will be able to attend the Nov. 7-10 Interpol general assembly in Bali, Indonesia, although Foreign Minister David Lee (李大維) said in early October that Taiwan would apply to participate.
Lee said Thursday in Taipei that Taiwan cannot be optimistic about its prospects for taking part in the meeting next month.
U.S. Rep. Matt Salmon, chairman of the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, told CNA Wednesday that the U.S. government should continue to use its influence to persuade other Interpol members to allow Taiwan to take part in the organization.
He also promised to continue efforts to help Taiwan participate in Interpol meetings.
Meanwhile, Taiwan's representative to France, Zhang Ming-zhong (張銘忠), noted that Taiwan is not able to join the I-24/7 global police communications system because it is not a member of Interpol.
Taiwan recognizes the need for the world to work together to counter terrorism, and hopes to share information with other countries to combat cross-border crime, but its efforts to establish a connection with Interpol have so far been unsuccessful, Zhang said.
He said he wrote to the Interpol secretariat in Lyon last year to express Taiwan's willingness to share information about People's Republic of China nationals using counterfeit Republic of China passports within the European Union, but did not receive any response.
A similar outcome ensued when he again wrote to the organization this year to try to share Taiwan's experience in solving an ATM theft spree committed by an international crime ring, according to Zhang.
Taiwan-U.S. Relations: What’s Next?
The United States has long been one of Taiwan’s strongest allies. But how long will Taiwan be able to exist in its current state of diplomatic limbo? What does it mean for the U.S.? Loften Deprez tells us what to expect from U.S.-Taiwan relations in the years to come.
By LOFTEN DEPREZ
October 17, 2016
REFUGEES FLEEING FROM their destroyed homeland. An entire people subjugated, their language and culture lost forever.
The term “stateless nation” usually brings to mind a picture like this—one of oppression, hopelessness and disadvantage. But one “stateless nation” defies this stereotype. The island nation of Taiwan has remained an anomaly for decades as an economically prosperous and socially advanced entity that exists without the formal recognition enjoyed by the overwhelming majority of nation-states.
This lack of basic political recognition has had important implications for Taiwan’s economic and political dealings with other countries. From exclusion from trade deals to economic sanctions levied by other countries, Taiwan has had to fight an uphill battle to attain the prosperity it enjoys today.
But the story is more complicated. Taiwan is not completely isolated; it has notable unofficial international supporters—a list that includes the United States. Throughout the 20th century, the U.S. has maintained a variety of official positions regarding Taiwan. Although the technicalities of U.S.-ROC relations have changed throughout the years, the importance of Taiwan to the U.S. and the U.S. to Taiwan has remained steady.
Since the Nationalist ROC fled to Taiwan at the close of the Chinese Civil War, the U.S. looked to the exiled government as a strong Western ally in the region. The relationship developed into a military alliance, leading to significant arms sales to the ROC—most notably after the U.S. Congress passed the Taiwan Relations Act in 1979. Commerce between the two entities extends well beyond military equipment, with both countries trading electronics and other products.
Before we get into the current state of U.S.-ROC ties, it is important to run through the two countries’ complicated relationship. While the U.S. had traditionally recognized the ROC as the sovereign ruling government of China and Taiwan, it reversed its position in the 1970s. The Nixon administration, looking to weaken the influence of the Soviet Union and accelerate a resolution to the Vietnam conflict, established diplomatic relations with the communist mainland. This came at the price of relations with the ROC, seen at the time as a necessary measure given that the PRC made a non-recognition of the ROC a precondition for creating ties. This came to be known as the “One China” policy, and has since come to define how many nations interact with China and Taiwan.
But Washington did not abandon its capitalist Asian ally, even as it held out the olive branch to the communist PRC. Under the provisions of the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, the U.S. committed itself to aiding Taiwan in the event of PRC invasion or aggression. In practice this has meant two things; extensive weapons sales to the ROC and assurances from top US brass that the Americans will intervene in the event of a conflict.
While at times confusing for both parties, this policy has been largely successful in practice. The United States has been able to maintain formal diplomatic relations with the PRC, while at the same time maintaining the unofficial relations with the ROC that have prevented conflict from breaking out in the Taiwan Strait and have fostered bilateral trade. The ROC still controls Taiwan and, though it does not have traditional membership in many international organizations such as the UN and the WTO, it has been able to control the island’s domestic and international policy. Furthermore, U.S.-Taiwan trade has ballooned in recent decades, with U.S. Almanac data indicating that the total value of U.S. trade in goods with Taiwan has grown from $4.7 billion in 1985 to $25.9 billion in 2015.
Although this relationship defined by the American “One China” policy has been sustainable for decades, there are reasons to question its continued viability in the years to come. The US-Taiwan relationship is based, for the large part, on the stability of the status quo. That status quo means that the PRC does not make moves to reunify Taiwan with the mainland, either through military force or economic sanctions, and the ROC does not officially declare its independence or do anything else to upset its delicate political position.
The U.S. has found itself caught between both sides, trying to prevent the PRC or the ROC from changing any of these preconditions for peace. Harry J. Nathan, a professor of political science at Columbia, explains that since the 1970s “the U.S. government’s major desire toward the Taiwan government with respect to its mainland policy is that it not provoke a crisis with Beijing.” Their rationale is simple; if the status of Taiwan changes on account of the either entity’s policies, American businesses and political interests will suffer. But this delicate balance can be upset by a variety of factors, from economic conditions to public opinion and other countries’ policies.
Two significant changes underway in Taiwan could damage this stability. The first is the shifting demographic composition of the island. Co-President of the Yale Taiwanese American Society Vernon Lin ‘18 describes the general sentiments of different social groups in Taiwan towards independence. Lin explained, “there are two groups in the older generation. One group fled the Nationalists and came to Taiwan. They are the ones who would buy into the One China principle more than the ones who were just there and just migrated who are Han Chinese ethnically, but moved from China way before the civil war. They are way more into independence.” Lin continued to say that “with the younger generation there is greater feeling of affinity towards independence.”
As increasing numbers of island-born Taiwanese enter the political sphere, the nation as a whole is shifting towards a more pro-independence mindset. Lin’s explanation is confirmed empirically; an annual survey conducted by National Chengchi University’s Election Study Center asks whether Taiwanese residents identify as Chinese, Taiwanese or both. In 2014, 60.4 percent of respondents reported themselves as Taiwanese, up from just 17.6 percent when the poll was first conducted in 1992. Just 3.5 percent identified as Chinese, compared with 10.5 percent in 1992.
The rise in Taiwanese nationalism has had noticeable effects on politics. In January of 2016, the Democratic Progressive Party captured the presidency and achieved its first-ever majority in the legislature of the ROC. While its rhetoric has softened in recent years, the DPP is still much more pro-independence than the other major political party, the Kuomintang. Although no overtly pro-independence action has been taken thus far, the new government’s policies, most notably the New Southbound Policy, are pushing Taiwan’s economy away from the mainland. The New Southbound Policy is, essentially, a southward economic pivot meant to incentivize integration and the formation of stronger ties with ASEAN and South Asian countries. Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen stated in her inauguration speech that the goal of the policy is to “bid farewell to our past over-reliance on a single market.” While it is true that similar policies had been implemented by previous governments, the New Southbound Policy is different in that it has a far broader scope, including for the first time South Asian countries, and has a greater emphasis on growing the ROC’s soft power through a new emphasis on bilateral relations.
The second shift that threatens the status quo is the growing economic isolation Taiwan faces from being locked out of free trade agreements. Because the vast majority of major nations do not recognize the ROC’s sovereignty, Taiwan is often unable to become a part of major FTAs that in the 21st century have grown increasingly important for other nations. This region-based trade integration, particularly fast in Asia, has left Taiwan unable to capitalize globalization. Instead Taiwan has been forced to increase its reliance on China for commerce.
Despite its political aspirations to shift to other nations for trade and investment, Taiwan is largely unable to move away from reliance on China. While in 2000 Taiwan’s total value of trade with China was $18.5 billion, in 2013 it had ballooned to $165 billion. 27 percent of Taiwan’s exports end up in China, while only 2 percent of China’s exports are sent to Taiwan.
This is exactly what the PRC government desires because it allows for a slow but steady economic annexation of Taiwan back into the mainland. As mainland China becomes a larger part of the Taiwanese economy, the ROC loses power and autonomy on both the domestic and international stages. The long-term hope of the PRC is that, once economic dominance over Taiwan is complete, the island nation will peacefully and voluntarily rejoin the mainland.
These forces far from guarantee change. In terms of public sentiment, even as many young people identify as Taiwanese, only a small minority actually want independence. Another survey from National Chengchi University’s Election Study Center found that just 5.8 percent of Taiwanese residents want immediate independence, with only 18.0 percent seeking long-term independence. Additionally, on the economic front, the slow-down of China’s growth may allow Taiwan to look elsewhere for an economic partner. Further, if Taiwan finds itself able to join a trade pact, the economic forces driving Taiwan’s drift towards China may be mitigated.
In examining U.S.-Taiwan business relations, then, it would seem that little is likely to change in the coming years, even as Taiwan experiences cultural and political shifts. While future trade deals similar to the Trans-Pacific Partnership could in theory effect a major change in Taiwan’s business climate, the American public’s distaste for free trade makes the prospect unlikely. The ties between Washington and Taipei are here to stay.
Sidelined at the U.N., a Frustrated Taiwan Presses On
New York Times
By ANDREW JACOBS
SEPT. 22, 2016
From her 12th-floor corner office overlooking the thrum of Manhattan’s East 42nd Street, Joanne Ou, a Taiwanese diplomat, can catch a glimpse of the motorcades ferrying foreign leaders to the United Nations General Assembly a few blocks to the east.
But during a week of political pageantry that features high-minded paeans to universal rights, Ms. Ou and her colleagues at Taiwan’s de facto consulatein New York can only watch the proceedings from afar, their frustration mounting with every rousing speech about justice and global inclusiveness.
Since 1971, when Taiwan was forced to give up its seat at the United Nationsto Mao Zedong’s People’s Republic of China, the self-governed island of 23 million has been wandering in the diplomatic wilderness, barred from the United Nations and affiliated bodies like the World Health Organization while its Olympic athletes are forced to compete under the banner of Chinese Taipei.
“The United Nations talks about justice and human rights, yet they pretend we don’t exist,” said Ms. Ou, who, as the director of Taiwan’s United Nations Task Force, is charged with a campaign to gain greater recognition for her people. “It’s humiliating, ridiculous and childish.”
Ms. Ou was directing her frustration at both China, Taiwan’s historical rival, and the United Nations technocrats who are increasingly willing to acquiesce to Beijing’s demands that Taiwan be considered a breakaway province ever since the 1949 civil war that ended with the defeat of Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist army by Mao’s Communist rebels.
Mr. Chiang’s forces fled to what was once known as Formosa, a lush, mountainous island across the Taiwan Straits, and set up a rival government, the Republic of China.
Over the years, Beijing has wielded its growing economic and political muscle to chip away at Taiwan’s international stature, picking off its diplomatic allies through generous aid packages — and retaliatory gestures — that have reduced to 22 the number of nations, including the Vatican, that still maintain official relations with Taiwan.
But after four decades as something of a diplomatic nonentity, Taiwan is pushing back with renewed vigor. This month, a group of Taiwanese activists swept through the United States, holding protests that sought to highlight China’s efforts to sideline Taiwan. The group is also lobbying members of Congress to press for the easing of State Department restrictions that bar Taiwan’s top leaders, including the president, vice president and minister of foreign affairs, from setting foot in Washington.
“It’s a very sad situation that denies you and me the opportunity to hear from Taiwan’s democratically elected leaders,” said Jerome A. Cohen, an adjunct senior fellow for Asia studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.
This week, Taiwanese diplomats began a campaign to ask Taiwan’s diplomatic allies to press the United Nations secretary general into allowing Taiwan to join bodies like the International Civil Aviation Organization and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Such efforts, most experts agree, will likely be for naught. Vincent Wei-Cheng Wang, a Taiwan-born political scientist at Ithaca College, said China had been increasingly assertive in denying Taipei a role in international affairs, thwarting the aspirations of one of the world’s most advanced economies and a vibrant democracy.
“I find it frustrating that the international community has not been able to find creative ways to incorporate Taiwan onto the world stage,” said Mr. Wang, noting past compromises that allowed both North and South Korea to participate in the United Nations, and the 2012 vote that gavePalestinians a nonvoting seat at the table. “Taiwan’s dignity and survival deserve more international support.”
The indignities are conveyed through United Nations documents and official speeches that refer to Taiwan as “Taiwan, Province of China” and color-coded maps that suggest that the two states are one. A new security measures, introduced this summer at the behest of China, blocks Taiwanese passport holders from touring the United Nations complex in New York, citing a requirement that visitors must have IDs issued by a member or observer state.
“We’re talking about elderly people who fly 14 hours to New York, having waited all their lives to see the U.N., and then are turned away at the door,” said Brian Su, the deputy director general at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in New York. “It’s humiliating, and the U.N. won’t even return the $20 they paid for the tour!”
Taiwanese diplomats, though they are also barred from entering the United Nations, take a long view of the situation, citing the Palestinians’increasingly successful struggle for international recognition. Their battle plan includes behind-the-scenes diplomacy and a well-financed soft power campaign that seeks to highlight Taiwan’s accomplishments since it shed authoritarian rule in the mid-1980s.
On most nights, the lobby of their building in Midtown is a beehive of public events that showcase Taiwanese films, the island’s high-tech prowess and Taiwan’s growing role as a beacon of tolerance in Asia for gays and ethnic minorities.
The diplomatic maneuverings that takes place upstairs are less fruitful. Theelection in January of Tsai Ing-wen, who is Taiwan’s first female president and whose Democratic Progressive Party has in the past flirted with independence, is sending a chill through cross-strait relations. Under her predecessor, Ma Ying-jeou of the Kuomintang, Taiwan and China signed a series of agreements that included increased trade, direct flights and a surge of mainland tourists that buoyed the Taiwanese economy.
President Ma’s eight-year effort to forge closer ties also yielded a handful of modest diplomatic achievements. In 2009, China allowed Taiwan to join the World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization, but only as an observer. Four years later, Beijing dropped its opposition to Taiwanese participation at a gathering of the International Civil Aviation Organization, which sets global safety standards.
Even so, Beijing’s good will appears to have dried up. Taiwan has yet to receive an invitation to the aviation group’s forum in Montreal on Tuesday, and the Chinese government in recent months has signaled its displeasure with President Tsai by drastically reducing the number of Taiwanese tour groups allowed to visit the mainland, devastating the island’s tourist industry.
“It’s really heartbreaking for us,” said Ms. Ou, 42, the Taiwanese diplomat, who is in her second stint as chief of Taipei’s quest for greater international recognition. Before the General Assembly, Ms. Ou helped coordinate efforts to encourage heads of state to mention Taiwan’s aspirations during their public speeches. Last year, she said, the tally came to 16.
Throughout the week, she and her colleagues have been glued to their computer screens, anxiously watching the online speeches for words of encouragement.
By Wednesday evening, the reviews were mixed. The presidents of Panama and the Dominican Republic, two of Taiwan’s longtime allies, had failed to mention its plight, but the president of Nauru, the tiny Micronesian island nation, delivered a semantic home run, with three paragraphs condemning Taiwan’s exclusion from the international community.
The remarks, which described Taiwan as “Nauru’s close friend,” left Ms. Ou feeling elated, prompting her to recite a traditional Chinese expression that extols perseverance in the face of a more powerful foe.
“When you are small and fighting a much bigger adversary,” she said, “you had better use your wisdom.”
Foreign ministry welcomes US bill on political exchanges
Radio Taiwan International (RTI)
The foreign ministry on Friday welcomed a new initiative by US lawmakers to promote bilateral exchanges between the US and Taiwan.
The Taiwan Travel Act of 2016 was proposed by three members of Congress on Thursday. The act aims to ease restrictions on entering the US for senior officials from Taiwan and to promote more exchanges between the two nations on all levels.
The act says all senior Taiwanese officials should be allowed to enter the United States and its embassies around the world. They should also be allowed to meet with their counterparts in key ministries, including the Department of State and Department of Defense.
If passed, the act would effectively remove all restrictions on high-level political exchanges between US and Taiwan, including the current ban on meetings between the presidents of the two nations.
Is Taiwan investing enough in its security?
The Tsai administration must reverse the decline in Taiwan’s defense and strengthen security in the interest of stability, while keeping threats from China in check
By Shirley Kan
Wed, Sep 14, 2016 - Page 13
In this year’s US presidential election, an issue has arisen about whether allies such as Japan, South Korea and
European countries in NATO are spending enough for their defense. Even if Taiwan is not the main subject in this discourse, it has long faced the scrutiny of whether it is sufficiently investing in its self-defense.
Taiwan has a more precarious position than countries such as Israel, which also faces an existential threat. Taipei is sometimes blamed for “provoking” tension, though Beijing is in fact the belligerent bully. Taiwan depends on self-defense and support from the US and other countries for deterrence and defense against threats of coercion as well as force from China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
Taiwan recently experienced its third peaceful transfer of power — both the presidency and the legislature — with China provoking a minimum of cross-strait tension. President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) strategic challenge is to reverse the decline in Taiwan’s defense and urgently strengthen security in the interest of stability. She can lead Taiwan out of complacency about China’s threat.
With another chance for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to lead the nation, the Tsai administration is aware of its responsibility to fulfill its commitment to Taiwan’s security. However, the DPP’s stress on self-sufficiency in defense can be unrealistic and even counter-productive. Ironically, the foreign country with the most interest in Taiwan’s strong defense and deterrence, the US, is the country that bears some responsibility for pushing Taiwan to this quest for self-sufficiency. US policy also needs an urgent fix, given the hold on arms sales to Taiwan under the George W Bush and Barack Obama administrations.
IMPLICATIONS OF TAIWAN’S ELECTIONS
Contrary to pessimistic perspectives, Taiwan’s democracy underwent a peaceful transition of executive and legislative power following the January elections and May inauguration. The DPP has accepted the “status quo” under the rubric of the Republic of China (ROC). In her inaugural address, Tsai recognized the reality that Taiwanese elected her as “President in accordance with the Constitution of the ROC.” She respects the reality that both sides of the Taiwan Strait have a legacy of more than 20 years of engagement that has enabled positive outcomes for both sides.
China criticized her for not using the the controversial term “1992 consensus.” But significantly, Tsai affirmed the “political foundations” of cross-strait ties, including the 1992 talks. Tsai’s careful remarks reflect her personal control of Taipei’s policy and its communication with Beijing. Indeed, she inherited a recently-revealed tradition of secret communication channels across the Taiwan Strait (Arthur Waldron’s “How secret were Washington’s talks with China?,” Taipei Times, July 21, 2016.)
However, the DPP’s historic victory in the presidential and legislative elections raises an issue of whether a fundamental change has occurred in Taiwan’s politics. China blames the DPP for changing the status quo related to the “one China” ideology since Tsai took office on May 20. Indeed, there has been a fundamental transformation. However, the shift is not what China blames on the DPP. It only recently regained power.
The decades-long trend of greater Taiwan-centric identity, especially among younger voters, grew through the previous two terms of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) rule under Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九). Outwardly, China repeats its archaic anti-DPP bashing. Behind this outmoded facade, China is actually afraid of populist movements and democracy, which the regime in Beijing cannot accept or control. Specifically, China is more fearful of the meaning of the 2014 Sunflower movement, which blossomed under Ma’s watch. As a result, people decisively voted against the KMT in local elections in November 2014, before its devastating defeat in January of this year.
The electoral earthquake confirmed the tectonic shift in which a majority trust the Taiwan-centric DPP for economic, defense and other policies, and doubt the KMT’s Sino-centric pivot. What effectively began in 2005 as the Third United Front between the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has failed. The DPP evolved to govern again. The KMT atrophied and its recovery is in doubt. China’s always-neurotic anxiety has been heightened, potentially harming peace and stability.
MA’S LEGACY FOR TSAI
Tsai has faced two main challenges in the context for advancing her agenda on defense. The first set of problems beyond her control are the accidents in Taiwan’s military. The second set of challenges concern the legacies that Tsai inherited from the two previous presidents. Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) pushed the nation towards de jure independence. In the past eight years, Ma oversaw a resumed cross-strait dialogue, economic and functional agreements with China, an anemic economy and closer cooperation with the US.
However, there are certain areas where MA fell short and Tsai needs to restores trust related to the credibility and broken promises of Ma, who cast doubt on follow-up purchases of US weapons systems and failed to raise the defense budget to Taiwan’s own objective of 3 percent of GDP.
Ma did not place a high priority on defense and even cut defense budgets. He also failed to resolve persistent problems in the military, including not retiring the outdated F-5 fighters that reached the end of their operational life (though Ma saw one in a Californian museum), not procuring new trainers, diverting US-sold Black Hawk helicopters away from defense and forcing a shift to a volunteer force that exacerbated problems in recruitment, retention and training.
Insidiously, Ma headed a shift to stop saying that China is Taiwan’s only threat. Instead of directing Taiwan to support international law and fellow democracies on maritime disputes, Ma slanted Taiwan in shrill sync with China. He undermined exchanges with the US concerning exercises on crisis-management. Ma abrogated pledges to the US over trade in beef and pork and did not bring Taiwan into the strategic Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). His last representative in Washington incited disdain with a gratuitous, self-congratulatory public ceremony to raise the ROC flag.
With its declining emphasis on defense, Taiwan’s credibility is at a low ebb with the US. This includes periodic “freezes” in arms sales, excessive maritime claims and weakened friendships with Japan and the Philippines, who can also aid in Taiwan’s defense.
TSAI’S DEFENSE POLICY
Despite these challenges, Tsai needs to stay strategic and lead Taiwan with urgency for stronger defense and deterrence. In contrast to Ma, Tsai not only seeks to continue cross-strait engagement and stability, but also emphasize Taiwan’s strategic rebalance. Under Tsai, Taiwan is orienting more to the US, other democracies and countries with its new southbound policy, without cutting off China. The nation is also diversifying economic partners without over-reliance on China, while boosting defense without over-indulgence in dialogue with China.
In a worrisome sign, however, Tsai failed to discuss defense policy in her inaugural address. Also, in her June meeting with the visiting Senate Armed Services Committee’s Chairman John McCain, Tsai sounded wishy-washy in response to his stress on Taiwan meeting its defense budgets goals of 3 percent of GDP. Still, she is placing priority on national defense, especially by expanding cooperation between the defense industries of the US and Taiwan. The Tsai administration is relying on papers on defense policy that the DPP published in the past few years. In another contrast with Ma, Tsai retained advisors in her campaign as influential officials in her administration.
Since her inauguration, Tsai has inspected an airbase, a naval base and a Military Police base, to show her government’s determination to safeguard Taiwan’s security.
There appear to be three pillars to Tsai’s defense policy: indigenous weapons programs; information technology, including setting up the fourth military service to counter the PLA’s cyber attacks; and intangible assets, or restoring respect for military service, pride in military personnel and their welfare and careers.
However, while the military needs political support, Tsai’s stress on indigenous defense development faces problems. For example, if the government procures a locally-developed, downgraded Indigenous Defense Fighter as the new trainer, the cost to Taiwan would actually be greater than other options (such as the Italian M-346 or the US-ROK T-50 trainers, if approved).
It is unrealistic to lead Taiwanese to think they can achieve self-sufficiency in the short term. Taiwan’s defense industry would still require foreign technology transfers. Moreover, Taiwan’s defense industry cannot count on sales to foreign militaries or economies of scale to reduce costs. Furthermore, the industry would take a long time to develop, design and produce effective weapons systems. If Tsai insists on expensive local options, Taiwan cannot quickly reverse the decline in its defense.
In contrast to Ma, Tsai has requested an increase in the defense budget. She has refrained from repeating what her staff sees as Taiwan’s unrealistic short-term goal of budgeting for defense at 3 percent of GDP, a goal that became an irritant in talks with the US. Still, Tsai requested a raise in the defense budget next year to NT$321.7 billion (US$10.3 billion). In addition, Tsai has ordered a new military strategy by February of next year based on actual, joint defense needs instead of wish-lists. Such a strategy could employ less expensive asymmetric approaches.
Tsai can be expected to improve crisis-management and to invite US observers to relevant military exercises. She could enhance US-Taiwan exchanges about critical infrastructure protection and continuity of government. She faces decisions that include training, technology transfers, Indigenous Defense Submarine program based on upgrades of Hai Lung-class submarines, MH-60R helicopters, sufficient supplies of munitions, training of fighter pilots at Luke Air Force Base and US exercises.
Tsai could expand cooperation on the US early warning radar to track North Korea’s missile launches, tighten Taiwan’s cyber security and counter-intelligence and deepen the discussions with the US on strengthening special operations and countering the PLA’s special operations forces.
ISSUES FOR US POLICY
The US is concerned about Taiwan’s defense, but responsibility for the accumulated problems also rests stateside. To be fair, Washington faces a number of hurdles such as self-imposed and counter-productive restrictions on contacts with Taiwan’s military officials. The US has declined to use more options to help dispel misunderstanding and urge upgrades in Taiwan’s defense.
One option is to remove restrictions on visits to Taiwan by US general and flag officers (unless approved by the State Department). Another option is to allow mutual ship visits in the US Navy’s often-stated tradition of international inclusiveness and aid. Naval ships could visit for replenishment, refueling or repairs.
The arms sales process is broken, affecting foreign military sales and even direct commercial sales. The US could repair the process by returning to a regular, routine decision-making process that is clear and credible. US hesitancy on security assistance has undermined its interests in Taiwan wisely investing in defense. The Taiwan Relations Act stipulates that decisions be “based solely” on Taiwan’s military needs. Washington could give Taipei a straight answer to follow the initial approval in 2001 for new submarines. With more certainty, Taiwan can plan better for budgets, equipment and training.
One problem is timing. Tsai needs to make progress at a time when the US is preoccupied with the November elections. The default is to let inertia defer decisions.
However, an alternative is to be proactive and to learn lessons. Before Obama leaves office, he could resolve unfinished business, unlike Bush who left pending programs. The new president could avoid repeating the deference Obama showed China in his first year in office, when he refused to announce major arms sales to Taiwan.
But the focus cannot simply be on major weapons. US officials could regularly advance other programs to equip Taiwan’s military. More military-to-military engagement can stress realistic training to raise readiness, uphold international rules and laws and improve safety at sea. Such rules include the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea.
The Obama administration asserts that military engagement with Taiwan has become robust and numerous. Some US military exercises have included Taiwan — though not Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC), the premier international maritime exercise. Nonetheless, there are concerns about connecting engagements with uncertain deliveries of equipment and about connecting senior-level and other meetings as integrated dialogues that produce results.
Another Taiwan Policy Review could be useful, at least for reassessment of trends in the Taiwan Strait. It has been 22 years since the Taiwan Policy Review of 1994, despite significant shifts in the region. It is in the interests of the US to engage Taiwan and support its democracy and defense.
In the short term, attention will focus on Tsai’s speech on Double Ten National Day, which falls on Oct. 10. She will have an opportunity to fill the gap in her inaugural address and outline Taiwan’s realistic assessment of defense against China’s threat. She will also continue to manage communication with China. Some in China have called her Double Ten speech her third — and final — window of opportunity. While moving the goal posts, China berates Tsai to make one-sided concessions.
Tsai faces risks from the KMT even as Taiwan’s leaders shift from politics to governance. The opposition is nitpicking Tsai about national security appointments. Potentially positive, the DPP and KMT could still forge a consensus for joint successes to strengthen Taiwan’s security.
But time is not on Taiwan’s side. Tsai does not enjoy a full term for serious governance to strengthen security. In less than four years, governing efforts will be diverted to campaigning for the DPP, as she seeks re-election in the next presidential election.
2020 has another significance. The US Defense Department has warned that China’s rulers stress the objective of reaching critical economic and military benchmarks by 2020, which include attaining the capability to fight and win potential regional conflicts. The PLA’s primary target remains Taiwan.
Shirley Kan is a retired Specialist in Asian Security Affairs who worked for the US Congress at the Congressional Research Service (CRS)
Tsai reiterates commitment to improve cross-strait ties
Radio Taiwan International (RTI)
Tsai was speaking Wednesday at an event held for Taiwanese businesspeople based in China. Tsai promised that her administration will support and assist the Taiwanese business community in China.
At the same time, Tsai reiterated the government’s determination to maintain cross-strait peace and stability. She said the government will work to promote positive cross-strait interaction and build cross-strait ties that are pragmatic, stable, and durable.
Wednesday’s event was organized by the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), a semi-official organization entrusted by Taipei to handle exchanges with China in the absence of official ties. The organization’s Chairman, Tien Hung-mao, took office on Monday. Tsai said she hopes Tien will promote cross-strait harmony as he takes up his new post.
Taiwan asks allies to offer support at UN: MOFA
Radio Taiwan International (RTI)
Taiwan has asked its allies to write and speak in favor of Taiwan at the 71st United Nations General Assembly. That’s the word from Deputy Foreign Minister Wu Chih-chung on Monday.
This year’s UN General Assembly is set to kick off in New York on Tuesday, while the general debate will be held in late September.
Wu said letters will be sent to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon focusing on two issues. One is Taiwan’s basic right to participate in UN-related organizations. Another is Taiwan’s efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, introduced by the UN.
The allies’ ambassadors to the UN will write letters both individually and jointly, a move that Wu said is in Taiwan’s best interests.
Wu also said the allies will refer to Taiwan in three different ways in the letter. They are “Taiwan”; the country’s official name, which is “the Republic of China”, and the “Republic of China (Taiwan)”.
Obama says Taiwan a model of Asian democracy at ASEAN summit
Radio Taiwan International (RTI)
US President Barack Obama said that Taiwan is an example of a flourishing Asian democracy at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Laos on Tuesday.
Obama is the first US president to set foot in Laos. He was speaking about democracy and the values of human rights during an address at the ASEAN summit. Obama also listed Japan and South Korea as examples of successful democracies in Asia.
During his speech, Obama acknowledged the devastation caused by the American bombing during the Laotian Civil War 40 years ago. Obama pledged US$90 million to help clean up unexploded bombs in the country.
Cross-strait relations facing 'grave challenge': Chinese official
By Chiu Kuo-chiang and Christie Chen
Weifang City, China, Sept. 1 (CNA) Zhang Zhijun (張志軍), head of China's Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO), said Thursday that cross-strait relations are facing a "grave challenge" as the current Taiwan government has refused to recognize the "1992 consensus" and its core meaning.
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration has adopted a "vague attitude" toward cross-strait relations, and has refused to acknowledge the "1992 consensus," which means at the core that both sides belong to one China, Zhang said.
"(This has) undermined the political foundation for peaceful development of cross-strait relations," Zhang said at the opening of a cross-strait innovation forum at the 22nd Shandong-Taiwan Economic & Trade Fair in Weifang City in Shandong Province.
However, he said, there will be no major changes to China's Taiwan policy.
China will maintain the "1992 consensus" as a political foundation and "resolutely oppose and contain any form of Taiwan independence separatist activities," he said.
China will continue to introduce measures that benefit cross-strait industrial cooperation and development, and create conditions to facilitate the transformation and upgrading of Taiwanese businesses in China, Zhang said.
He said China will also continue its efforts to make it easier for Taiwan's people to study, live, work and start businesses in China.
Speaking with the media after the forum, Zhang was asked about his views on the appointment of former foreign minister Tien Hung-mao (田弘茂) as the new head of Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), a semi-official organization responsible for cross-strait negotiations.
Zhang said if the SEF and its Chinese counterpart, the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits, were to resume talks, there would first have to be a common political foundation based on the "1992 consensus" and authorized by the Taiwan government.
The key to the problem is the political foundation, not the person, he said.
The "1992 consensus" refers to a tacit agreement between China and Taiwan, following talks in Hong Kong in 1992, that there is only one China but each side is free to interpret what that means.
The agreement paved the way for improved cross-strait ties during President Ma Ying-jeou's two terms of office that lasted until May. President Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party has never accepted the "1992 consensus."
Existing cross-strait pacts to continue: Chinese official
(By Feng Chao and Christie Chen)
Hangzhou, China, Aug. 18 (CNA) A senior Chinese official has said that China will continue to honor its existing agreements with Taiwan but he has ruled out any new accords unless what Beijing sees as a precondition is met.
Zhang Zhijun (張志軍), head of the Taiwan Affairs Office under China's State Council, or cabinet, arrived in Hangzhou Wednesday for a meeting with the heads of nine Taiwanese business associations in Zhejiang Province.
During the meeting, Hsieh Chih-tung (謝智通), executive vice president of the Association of Taiwan Investment Enterprises on the Mainland, told Zhang about the difficulties facing Taiwanese businesses that specialize in machinery, equipment and other fields, and expressed concern that China will reduce its preferential policies for Taiwanese businesses.
In response, Zhang said that although talks between the authorities in Beijing and Taipei have been suspended since January, Taiwanese businesses need not worry because China will keep its promises and continue to honor the 23 agreements that Taiwan and China has signed since 2008, according to people who attended the meeting.
The agreements were negotiated over 11 rounds of talks between the Taipei-based Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and its Chinese counterpart, the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS). They are the semi-official organizations charged with the conduct of cross-strait relations in the absence of official ties.
However, regarding follow-up agreements under the Taiwan-China Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement of 2010, Zhang was quoted as saying that "it is impossible for the doors to be open without the '1992 consensus' as a foundation."
Talks between the SEF and ARATS have stopped because without a common political foundation based on the "1992 consensus," China is uncertain if it is negotiating with "a foreign country," he said.
If Taiwan does not recognize the "1992 consensus," official communication channels cannot be resumed even through another channel, Zhang said.
As a precondition for continued development in cross-strait ties, Beijing has insisted that President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and her Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government accept the "1992 consensus," which refers to a tacit agreement between China and Taiwan's Kuomintang government at the time that there is only one China, with the two sides free to interpret what that means.
Beijing has used it to stress its "one China" principle," which emphasizes that Taiwan is a part of China.
Tsai and the DPP came to power in May after winning the presidential and legislative elections in January follwing eight years of KMT administration headed by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).
Professor sworn in as head of N. America liaison office
By Joseph Yeh ,The China Post
August 2, 2016, 12:08 am TWN
TAIPEI, Taiwan -- A National Taiwan University professor on Monday pledged to continue to improve Taiwan-U.S. ties as she was sworn in as the new head of the Coordination Council for North American Affairs.
During her swearing-in ceremony, Tao Yi-feng (陶儀芬), an associate professor in NTU's Political Science Department, said she was honored and yet anxious to accept the new post as chairwoman of the council.
Tao has expertise in Chinese politics and international political economy. This is the first time she has left academia to take up a government post.
She said she still had a great deal to learn about the work of diplomacy and promised to promote Taiwan-U.S. relations based on the solid foundation laid by her predecessors.
The ceremony was presided over by Minister without Portfolio Lin Mei-chu (林美珠) and Vice Foreign Minister Leo Lee (李澄然).
During her address, Tao said the council had played a vital role in promoting closer Taiwan-U.S. ties after the two countries severed their official diplomatic relationship.
Over the past decades, bilateral relations have seen significant improvement and government units of both sides have increased their exchanges and cooperation, forcing the council to undergo a transformation.
Despite the changes, Tao said the council would still play a key role in promoting bilateral ties.
The council was founded in March 1979, after the U.S. officially recognized Beijing over Taipei in January of that year.
The council, headquartered in Taipei, acts as a liaison office to the American Institute in Taiwan, which represents U.S. interests in Taiwan in the absence of formal diplomatic ties.
Tao took up the post to fill the vacancy of Katharine Chang (張小月), who was chosen by President Tsai Ing-wen to serve as minister of the Mainland Affairs Council.
Adviser expects Clinton to continue Obama's Taiwan policy
The China Post
July 27, 2016, 12:14 am TWN
PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania -- U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is not expected to have a different stance on Taiwan or the "one China" policy than President Barack Obama if she is elected in November, one of her advisers said Monday.
"(Former) Secretary Clinton supports the current administration's policy on China and Taiwan, will continue to do so, believes that peaceful development strengthening of cross-strait relations is important," said Jake Sullivan, a senior policy adviser to Clinton, at a press briefing on the first day of the Democratic National Convention.
Clinton will formally receive the nomination as the Democratic Party's presidential candidate at the end of the four-day convention in Philadelphia.
Sullivan said Clinton supports the Taiwan Relations Act, as well as the "one China" policy, and there will not be "surprises or significant departures" from her position on the relationship from the current Obama administration.
The U.S. Department of State, which Clinton headed during Obama's first term from 2009-2013, has repeatedly stated Washington's commitment to the "one-China" policy and to the three Sino-American joint communiques signed after the U.S. switched recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979.
At the same time, the U.S. has maintained unofficial ties with Taiwan under the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, while opposing unilateral changes to the status quo by either side of the Taiwan Strait.
The commitment to the "one-China" policy and support of a peaceful resolution of cross-strait issues that is in the best interest of Taiwanese people was included in the Democratic Party platform passed by the convention on Monday, similar to those passed in 2008 and 2012.
Taiwan Leader's Party Expects Greater Beijing Flexibility on Cross-strait Ties
VOA Sunday 24th July, 2016
In a recent interview with The Washington Post, Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen talked about Taiwanese-mainland relations, Taiwan independence, U.S.-Taiwan relations and the reason for Taiwan's rejection of the international arbitration of the .
In the rare, one-on-one interview
- Tsai's first since assuming office
- she said her party expected Chinese President Xi Jinping to show a greater flexibility in handling cross-strait relations while recognizing that the island nation's democratically elected legislators are obligated to respect public opinion.
In response to the question of whether Xi has a certain deadline for her to accept the "1992 consensus"
- in which both sides insist there is "one China" but agree to disagree on what this means
- Tsai said "it isn't likely that the government of Taiwan will accept a deadline for conditions that are against the will of the people."
"I hope that [Xi] can appreciate that Taiwan is a democratic society in which the leader has to follow the will of the people," she said.
Around the time of the inauguration, Tsai
- the first woman to hold Taiwan's presidency
- said she tried to narrow the gap between the two sides in terms of bilateral relations, and that she hoped Beijing had recognized her goodwill efforts.
"Over this past period we have handled relations with China very carefully," she said. "We do not take provocative measures, we make sure that there are no surprises, and we hope that through channels of communication, we can gradually build up trust."
Because many young Taiwanese people are more pro-independence than older generations, the Post reporter said, they think of themselves as being distinctly Taiwanese, and not Chinese. It could be difficult for Tsai to balance the pressure to please her followers with the need to maintain stable cross-strait relations, the report suggested.
"Different generations and people of different ethnic origins have different views on China," Tsai said. "But they all agree on one thing
- that is democracy."
On the question of U.S.-Taiwan relations, Tsai said that regardless of whether Republican Donald Trump or Democrat Hillary Clinton won the upcoming presidential election, she hoped to develop closer relations and mutually beneficial relations. She also said she hoped the United States would provide military support to Taiwan, including submarines, ships and air defense apparatus, as well as network security.
Lastly, Tsai reiterated Taiwan's refusal to accept a Hague tribunal's recent ruling on South China Sea arbitration, which was decided in favor of the Philippines.
"We will not accept their decision," she said. "There are a couple of reasons for that. Taiwan is an important interested party in this case, but we were not invited to participate in the proceedings. Secondly, we found it unacceptable that we were referred to as the Taiwan Authority of China. The third reason is that [Taiping Island really is] an island."
Tsai went on to elaborate on Taiwan's position regarding the , which she said should be settled peacefully based on international law, including the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. Taiwan should be included in multilateral dispute settlement mechanisms, she added, saying that all countries involved are obliged to maintain freedom of flight and navigation throughout the disputed maritime region.
Taiwan advocates "shelving disputes and seeking common development," she said.
This report was produced in collaboration with VOA's Mandarin service.
Taiwan not bound by Hague ruling: Tsai
Radio Taiwan International
July 22nd, 2016
President Tsai Ing-wen said that Taiwan is not bound by the ruling of the Hague tribunal on the South China Sea. The president was quoted in an interview published in Thursday’sWashington Post.
Part of the verdict by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) on the dispute between China and the Philippines stated that Taiping Island, administered by Taiwan, is a rock and not an island. This is significant as it means Taiwan does not have the right to an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) around Taiping.
Tsai said Taiwan does not accept the PCA’s ruling and does not believe it is binding. She pointed out that the court did not consult with Taiwan, also a claimant to territory in the South China Sea. She also objected to the court’s designation of Taiwan as “Taiwan Authority of China.”
Tsai also said Taiwan believes in the peaceful resolution of territorial disputes in the South China Sea in accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Six Assurances' to Taiwan included in Republican party platform
Focus Taiwan News Channel
July 19th, 2016
Tony Liao and Elaine Hou
Cleveland, July 18 (CNA) The Republican Party has included the "Six Assurances" given to Taiwan by former U.S. President Ronald Reagan in 1982 and the sale of defensive arms to Taiwan in its 2016 party platform that was adopted Monday.
More than 2,400 delegates to the Republican National Convention adopted the official platform, which declares the party's principles and policies ahead of the U.S. presidential election to be held in November.
It was the first time the party had made the "Six Assurances" part of its platform.
"Our relations will continue to be based upon the provisions of the Taiwan Relations Act, and we affirm the Six Assurances given to Taiwan in 1982 by President Reagan," the platform said, stressing that both sides also share many common values, such as democracy, human rights, a free market economy and the rule of law.
The Six Assurances include U.S. pledges not to set a date for ending arms sales to Taiwan, not to hold prior consultations with China regarding arms sales to Taiwan, and not to play a mediation role between Taiwan and China.
They also include assurances that the U.S. will not revise the Taiwan Relations Act or pressure Taiwan to enter into negotiations with China.
Describing Taiwan as "a loyal friend of America," the Republican platform expressed support for the timely sale of defensive arms, including technology to build diesel submarines and full participation in the World Health Organization, International Civil Aviation Organization and other multilateral institutions.
Taiwan is pushing for a program to build indigenous submarines to replace its aging subs and is seeking assistance from foreign defense companies.
On the issue of ties between Taiwan and China, the platform said the party opposes "any unilateral steps by either side to alter the status quo in the Taiwan Straits on the principle that all issues regarding the island's future must be resolved peacefully, through dialogue, and be agreeable to the people of Taiwan."
"If China were to violate those principles, the United States, in accord with the Taiwan Relations Act, will help Taiwan defend itself," it said.
The party also praised efforts by the new government in Taiwan to continue constructive relations across the Taiwan Strait, while calling on China to reciprocate.
Cross-strait ties have cooled since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) took office on May 20.
The Taiwan Relations Act was enacted in 1979 to maintain commercial, cultural and other unofficial relations between the U.S. and Taiwan after Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing. The TRA also requires the U.S. "to provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character."
U.S. reassures Taiwan on cooperation after missile incident
Focus Taiwan News Channel
July 6th, 2016
By Rita Cheng and Flor Wang
Washington, July 5 (CNA) The United States has reassured Taiwan of its continuing cooperation after Taiwan's Navy mistakenly fired a live missile into the Taiwan Strait on July 1.
"We are aware of reports about the accidental firing of a missile from a Taiwan Navy vessel. We are in contact with Taiwan authorities. We regret the reported loss of life associated with this incident," U.S. Department of State East Asian and Pacific Affairs Bureau spokesperson Grace Choi told CNA in an e-mail Tuesday.
Choi did not see the incident as affecting future U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.
"Our policy on U.S.-Taiwan defense cooperation is unchanged and continues to be based on the three joint U.S.-China communiques and the Taiwan Relations Act," she said.
"The U.S. government remains firmly committed to supporting Taiwan's ability to defend itself, consistent with the provisions of the Taiwan Relations Act."
When asked how the U.S. viewed Taiwan-China interactions following the missile incident, Choi hoped it would not have much of an impact on relations across the Taiwan Strait.
"The United States has an enduring interest in the maintenance of peaceful and stable cross-Strait ties. We urge both sides to continue their constructive dialogue on the basis of dignity and respect," she wrote.
The incident involved a Hsiung Feng III missile being accidentally launched from a 500-ton Chinchiang-class corvette docked in Zuoying Military Harbor in Kaohsiung during a drill.
The missile hit a Taiwanese fishing boat about 40 nautical miles away and killed the boat's captain.
Military authorities in Taiwan have said the missile firing was an accident caused by a series of missteps by naval officers and sailors on the ship that was conducting the drill.
But China has demanded that Taiwan give a reasonable explanation of the incident and claimed it had very serious consequences.
Zhang Zhijun (張志軍), head of China's Taiwan Affairs Office, said shortly after the accidental missile firing that it had "a serious impact," without elaborating on what the impact might be.
US official touts bilateral relationship with Taiwan
Mon, Jun 27, 2016
US Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen on Saturday welcomed President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in Miami, expressing her support for Taiwan and hope for the two nations to become better friends and allies.
Ros-Lehtinen, a former US House Committee on Foreign Affairs chairwoman, said in a statement that she was delighted about her meeting with Tsai, adding that they discussed the importance of the US-Taiwan bilateral relationship.
“Taiwan is a beacon of freedom, a key strategic ally in the Pacific, and the United States must make sure that Taiwan has what it needs to flourish economically and militarily,” Ros-Lehtinen said.
“As we confront the many common challenges before us, including an increasingly aggressive China, I look forward to continuing to work closely with President Tsai to strengthen the US-Taiwan partnership based on the Taiwan Relations Act and six assurances, and allow our two nations to become even better friends and allies,” she said.
The US representative posted on her Twitter page a photograph of a bronze sculpture titled Wings of Freedom, which she received from Tsai as a gift, and other images of her posing with Tsai. She wrote a comment that they would continue to work together for freedom.
The sculpture was created by Taiwanese artist Lin Wen-teh (林文德). On the bottom of the sculpture was a quote by late Taiwanese democracy activist Deng Nan-jung (鄭南榕): “Fighting for 100 percent freedom.”
Cheng was active in the movement against the then-Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) authoritarian regime during the Martial Law era and ran a number of dissident magazines. He self-immolated in 1989 when the police arrived outside his office to arrest him and put him on trial for publishing a draft Republic of Taiwan constitution.
Ros-Lehtinen, born in Cuba, was the first Cuban American elected to the US Congress. She is known for her long-term fight for global freedom and democracy, as well as her support for Taiwan.
Tsai also met with US Representative Gregg Harper, a co-chair of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus, and Taiwanese professional baseball pitcher Chen Wei-yin (陳偉殷) — who plays for the Miami Marlins — before continuing her journey to Panama on Saturday.
In Panama, Tsai was yesterday to attend the inauguration ceremony for the Panama Canal expansion project
Speaking about Tsai’s meeting with Chen, Presidential Office Deputy Secretary-General Tseng Hou-jen (曾厚仁) said during Tsai’s flight to Panama that it was a “very warm meeting,” in which six lawmakers accompanying Tsai on her trip were also present.
Tsai asked Chen to autograph several baseballs for her and asked him if he gets nervous when he is called to pitch, Tseng said.
Chen gave Tsai, an animal lover, six pet bowls and a baseball jersey embroidered with his last name and the number 54 as a gift.
Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang (黃重諺) said the six bowls are for Tsai’s two pet cats and three retired guide dogs that she adopted. The animals are to live with her when she moves into the presidential residence.
Tsai also met with US Senator Marco Rubio, a staunch supporter of Taiwan in the US Congress, who recently introduced a resolution reaffirming the Taiwan Relations Act and the “six assurances” as cornerstones of US-Taiwan relations.
During the meeting, Rubio raised concerns about what Taiwan can do to strengthen its national defenses.
Tsai reiterated Taiwan’s policy goal of developing indigenous submarines, adding that Taiwan needs the US’ assistance in reaching that goal, according to Tseng.
Tsai also expressed hope that the US Congress would help Taiwan’s bid to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership and help enhance bilateral cooperation in trade and economic exchanges by holding talks on a wide range of issues under the Taiwan-US Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, Tseng said.
Tsai later spoke to US Senator Orrin Hatch by telephone to thank him for his support for Taiwan.