Taiwan Relations Act

U.S. and Taiwan Set Date to Revive Trade and Investment Talks

Meeting continues President Biden’s pursuit of closer ties despite objections from Beijing

Wall Street Journal

By Chao Deng

June 25, 2021 11:58 am ET

TAIPEI—The U.S. will revive trade and investment talks with Taiwan next week in a move intended to draw Washington and Taipei closer that also is likely to irk Beijing.

The de facto U.S. embassy in Taipei, the American Institute of Taiwan, said Friday that its director, Brent Christensen, and Taiwan’s representative in the U.S., Hsiao Bi-khim, will convene a meeting by videoconference Wednesday with participants from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and Taiwan’s trade office.

An announcement was anticipated after Secretary of State Antony Blinken said earlier this month that Washington planned to engage with Taiwan soon on trade, without sharing a timeline.

The two sides will engage under a trade and investment framework first signed in 1994. Such agreements create the basis for recurring dialogue on trade issues, and sometimes serve a precursor to full-fledged free-trade agreements. Taipei and Washington last met under the framework in 2016.


Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said the date for talks was decided by U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Taiwan’s chief representative for trade negotiations, Deng Chen-chung, in a videoconference earlier this month.



In the past year, the U.S. State Department sponsored lower-level discussions on closer economic and business relations, helping lay the groundwork for more serious talks. Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, eager for closer engagement with the U.S., eased a ban on imports of American beef and pork in a bid to spur talks that she hoped would lead to a full bilateral trade agreement similar to those the U.S. has with major economic partners such as Canada and Mexico.

Robert Lighthizer, the U.S. trade representative under then-President Donald Trump, declined to launch trade talks with Taiwan, in part because he wanted to preserve the Trump administration’s framework for trade cooperation with Beijing, according to people familiar with the matter.

The revival of discussions under President Biden is the latest indication of the new U.S. administration’s intention to continue cultivating ties with Taiwan. Recently, the U.S. shipped 2.5 million vaccine doses to Taiwan, offering much-needed help to the island as it battles a rise in domestic Covid-19 cases. Only a fraction of Taiwan’s 24 million people have been administered vaccines.

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office and Foreign Affairs Ministry didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment sent after business hours Friday.

The Chinese government opposes all forms of official exchange between the U.S. and Taiwan and has objected to the trade talks as well as to the U.S. vaccines. Beijing regards the democratically self-ruled island as a part of Chinese territory and has vowed to use military force if necessary to take over the island.

Last week, Beijing sent 28 military aircraft into airspace near Taiwan—the largest number of such sorties reported in a single day—after the Group of Seven leaders issued a communiqué expressing a unified stance on the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

The U.S. is Taiwan’s second-largest trading partner. Taiwan is the world’s biggest supplier of advanced semiconductors, exporting billions of dollars in chips and computer and telecommunications equipment to the U.S. last year.

The U.S. hasn’t had an embassy in Taiwan since it agreed to downgrade ties with Taipei more than 40 years ago, a condition set by Beijing for formal diplomatic relations. It set up a private company staffed with diplomats to handle relations with the island instead.

Appeared in the June 26, 2021, print edition as 'Taiwan, U.S. Trade Talks Set To Begin.'

​June 17, 2021

U.S. working to deliver vaccines to Taiwan in 'very short order'


WASHINGTON, June 17 (Reuters) - A senior State Department official said on Thursday the United States was working with Taiwan regulators to ensure COVID-19 vaccines will be delivered "in very short order" to the democratically self-ruled island claimed by China.

Washington has promised to donate 750,000 vaccine doses to Taiwan as the United States and China have faced off with efforts to deepen geopolitical clout through so-called "vaccine diplomacy."

China considers Taiwan a breakaway province and has repeatedly offered to send vaccines to the island, which is battling a spike in domestic infections, but has expressed concern about the safety of Chinese shots.

"In very short order we do expect to have those vaccines on their way to Taiwan and hopefully into people's arms shortly thereafter," Jonathan Fritz, deputy assistant secretary of state for China, Mongolia, and Taiwan Coordination, told a Senate hearing.

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Asked if the previously pledged 750,000 doses would be delivered within weeks, Fritz said he hoped it would be "perhaps even sooner than that" but could not give a specific date.

Beijing has been whittling away at Taiwan's diplomatic allies, down to just 15 countries. Washington is nervous about an increased Chinese presence in Latin America and the Pacific where those allies are concentrated.

Fritz said China had been "very aggressively using vaccine donations as a lever to induce more of Taiwan's diplomatic partners to switch recognition." read more

"We do engage very intensively with Taiwan's remaining diplomatic partners, and point out to them the many benefits of having a reliable partner that in fact does not use, whether it's vaccines or investments or any other lever, as a tool of political coercion," he said.

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Republican Senator Mitt Romney noted an urgency to get more vaccines to Taiwan, up to 2 million doses, to counter Chinese government misinformation that the United States did not care about Taiwan.

"I would strongly encourage us to move as soon as we can to the higher number," Romney said.

Reporting by David Brunnstrom and Michael Martina

​Biden's Asia nominee says U.S. should develop Taiwan ties in every sector

David Brunnstrom Patricia Zengerle


June 15, 20219:19 PM EDT


WASHINGTON, June 15 (Reuters) - The nominee to be the top U.S. diplomat for East Asia said on Tuesday that Washington should develop its relationship with Taiwan in every sector, hours after China's largest reported incursion to date into the island's air defense identification zone.

Daniel Kritenbrink said it was important for Washington to demonstrate its resolve to meet its "rock-solid obligations" toward Taiwan in the face of pressure from China, which claims the self-governing island as its own territory.

"It's ... incumbent upon us to further develop our robust relationship with Taiwan in every sector," Kritenbrink told a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on his nomination to be assistant secretary of state for East Asia.

Earlier, Taiwan said 28 Chinese aircraft, including fighters and nuclear-capable bombers, entered its air defense identification zone. read more

The Group of Seven leaders issued a statement on Sunday scolding China for a series of issues and underscoring the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, comments that China called "slander." read more

Kritenbrink, a career foreign service officer who was most recently ambassador to Vietnam and a former deputy head of mission in China, was asked if Washington should switch from a long-standing stance of "strategic ambiguity" to make a clear commitment to defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack.

He said the U.S. "one-China" policy that formally recognizes Beijing and not Taipei had ensured cross-strait stability and Taiwan's security for many decades.

He added: "I do think that maintenance of that status quo and of that security is a dynamic situation. As the threat from (China) grows, as Beijing's aggressive and bullying behavior vis-a-vis Taiwan grows, I think that our response has to be calibrated as well."

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Responding to a request for comment, Chinese Embassy spokesman Liu Pengyu said Washington should "stop elevating its relationship with the Taiwan region in any substantive way ... so as to avoid serious damage to China-U.S. relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait."


Kritenbrink described China as the "major challenge the United States faces today" and said new guidelines adopted by the Biden administration for Taiwan relations were "significantly liberalized" and "explicitly designed to further develop our relationships and our partnership." He said Washington should continue to take steps to hold to account Chinese leaders responsible for what it calls genocide against Uyghurs and other Muslims in China's Xinjiang region.

"The ongoing genocide in Xinjiang shocks the conscience," he said. "We estimate more than 1 million Uyghurs have been forcibly detained, put into re-education camps, forced to provide labor, and many other disturbing allegations about how they are being treated," he said.

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"We need to continue to take steps using all the tools that the U.S. government has at its disposal to hold to account the leaders who are carrying out these atrocities," Kritenbrink said.

Liu repeated Chinese denials of abuses in Xinjiang, saying: "Facts have proved that there has never been any genocide in Xinjiang."

In a tweet, Sophie Richardson, China director for Human Rights Watch, called Kritenbrink's Xinjiang remarks a "strong pledge," while adding: "Follow through critical."

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle, David Brunnstrom and Michael Martina


​U.S. Senators Promise COVID-19 Vaccines For Taiwan Amid China Row

June 6, 20215:10 AM ET



TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — The U.S. will give Taiwan 750,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, part of President Joe Biden's move to share tens of millions of jabs globally, three American senators said Sunday, after the self-ruled island complained that China is hindering its efforts to secure vaccines as it battles an outbreak.

Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, who made a three-hour stop in Taiwan with fellow Democrat Christopher Coons of Delaware and Republican Dan Sullivan of Alaska, said their visit underscores bipartisan U.S. support for the democratic island that Beijing claims as its own renegade territory. Taiwan faces a severe vaccine shortage and has geopolitical significance as a flashpoint in U.S.-China relations.

"I'm here to tell you that the United States will not let you stand alone," Duckworth said at the airport after landing on a U.S. military transport plane. "We will be by your side to make sure the people of Taiwan have what they need to get to the other side of the pandemic and beyond."


Taiwan was included on a long list of places announced last week that would receive 25 million doses from the United States in what the Biden administration says is the first tranche of at least 80 million doses to be distributed globally. Most of the first tranche, including Taiwan's, will be sent through COVAX, a U.N.-backed program to distribute vaccines to low and middle-income countries.

The island of 24 million people, which lies 160 kilometers (100 miles) off China's east coast, is desperate for vaccines after a sudden outbreak that started in late April caught authorities by surprise. Japan shipped 1.2 million doses to Taiwan on Friday, opting to skip the COVAX process in the interest of speed. It was unclear when the 750,000 American doses would arrive.

Taiwan has accused China of blocking its efforts to reach a deal with BioNTech to import the vaccine co-developed by the German company and Pfizer. Beijing has said it is willing to supply vaccines to Taiwan, including BioNTech, through Chinese partner Fosun, and that the island's government is to blame for putting politics above the lives of its people. Taiwanese law bans the import of Chinese-made medicines.

Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, welcoming the senators at the airport, said that Taiwan is fortunate to have like-minded countries showing support, which he said is about sustaining freedom and democracy in the face of autocracy.

"Taiwan is facing unique challenges in combating the virus," he said. "While we are doing our best to import vaccines, we must overcome obstacles to ensure that these life-saving medicine are delivered free from troubles of Beijing."

He said China is trying to block Taiwan's international assistance and prevent it from participating in the World Health Organization. "We are no strangers to that kind of obstructionism," he said.

Taiwan and China split amid civil war in 1949, and most Taiwanese favor maintaining the current state of de facto independence while engaging in robust economic exchanges with the mainland.

China's ruling Communist Party says Taiwan must come under its control, and has in recent months increased pressure on the island, including flying warplanes near Taiwan. The increasing activity and vast improvements in China's military capabilities have raised concern in the U.S., which is bound by its own laws to ensure Taiwan is capable of defending itself and to regard all threats to the island's security as matters of "grave concern."

Taiwan, which had weathered the pandemic virtually unscathed until the recent outbreak, is now facing its most serious flare-up with more than 10,000 new cases since late April.

President Tsai Ing-wen, meeting with the senators, expressed gratitude to the Biden administration for including Taiwan in the first group to receive vaccines and said the doses will arrive at a critical time for the island.

"I hope that through cooperation with the United States, Japan and other countries, Taiwan will be able to overcome the immediate challenges and ... and move towards recovery," she said.

Both Duckworth, who was born in Thailand, and Sullivan said the American donation also reflects gratitude for Taiwan's support for the U.S., as Taiwan donated millions of masks and other supplies to the U.S. in the early days of the pandemic.

"This is love from America in return," Sullivan said, wearing a mask that he noted had "Love from Taiwan" written on it.

The three senators arrived at 7:30 a.m. from South Korea, where they met senior officials including the foreign and defense ministers on Friday and Saturday to discuss COVID-19 cooperation, the U.S.-South Korea military alliance and North Korea. They departed Taiwan at 10.30 a.m. the same morning, according to Taiwan's foreign ministry.

Health Minister and US Health Secretary hold online meeting

21 May, 2021 


US Health Secretary Xavier Becerra has held an online meeting with Taiwan’s Health Minister to discuss global health issues. The US Health Department’s Office of Global Affairs praised the discussion on Twitter in a post on Friday, saying the US backs Taiwan’s participation in the World Health Assembly.

Health Minister Chen Shih-chung’s meeting with the US official comes just days before the official opening of the World Health Assembly (WHA). The WHA is the decision-making body of the World Health Organization. Taiwan was an observer at the WHA between 2009 and 2016. Since then, however, pressure from Chinese authorities has prevented Taiwan from attending the assembly.

The tweet by the Office of Global Affairs on Friday reads “Great meeting with Minister Chen from Taiwan to discuss the ongoing pandemic & global health issues. The U.S. supports Taiwan’s ability to access vaccines, its contributions to health security, & its return to observership at the #WHA #LetTaiwanHelp”.

This is not the first time US health officials have been in contact with Taiwan. Last year, then-Health Secretary Alex Azar led a US delegation to Taiwan, becoming the first cabinet-level official to visit since 2014.

As U.S. Hardens Line on Beijing, Taiwan’s Stock Rises in Washington

Taiwan doesn’t have a U.S. embassy. But it’s got plenty of influence—and more to come.

By Robbie Gramer, a diplomacy and national security reporter at Foreign Policy.

MAY 6, 2021, 4:45 PM

As the race for the 2024 U.S. presidential election comes to a simmer, two top Republican contenders have gone out of their way to meet with a foreign diplomat they couldn’t meet while they were in office.


Mike Pompeo, a former secretary of state, and Nikki Haley, a former United Nations ambassador, both met with Taiwan’s top diplomatic representative in the United States, Bi-khim Hsiao, in recent months. Both later posted about their meetings on social media, extolling Taiwan’s commitment to democracy and freedom. Hsiao gave Pompeo a bag of dried Taiwanese pineapples when she met him. He later tweeted out a photo of himself snacking on them.


U.S. government officials are restricted in how they can interact with officials from Taiwan, the independently governed island that China views as its own territory, as part of the United States’ long-standing “One China” policy. But that is starting to change as a massive shift in Washington is preparing the country for an era of great-power competition with China.


Confronting China seems to be one of the only things that Democrats and Republicans can agree on in Washington’s fractious, hyperpartisan environment today. A big part of that, in turn, is showcasing support for Taiwan, something both Pompeo and Haley seem keen to do as they quietly lay the groundwork for a 2024 presidential bid.


It’s led to a curious phenomenon in Washington. Taiwan, even without formal diplomatic ties with the United States and no formal embassy—its diplomatic outpost in Washington is called the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office—is rapidly gaining outsized diplomatic clout and sway inside the Beltway, something other U.S. allies with full-fledged embassies and ambassadors in Washington can only look on with a bit of jealousy.


Former U.S. officials and congressional aides say that while China’s outgoing ambassador in Washington, Cui Tiankai, rarely makes public appearances anymore and has struggled to even secure meetings with U.S. lawmakers, everyone seems eager to meet their Taiwanese counterparts.


Hsiao, a seasoned Taiwanese diplomat and politician who was educated in the United States, isn’t complaining about the attention. “As an observer of American politics here in Washington, you see a lot of partisan differences,” she said in a recent interview. “But, on the area of Taiwan, there is a lot of agreement and consensus, and that is very much appreciated from our part.”


On the U.S. side, there’s political as well as geopolitical benefits to publicly backing Taiwan and standing up to China, according to Mike Green, a former George W. Bush administration national security official now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.


“In the Republican Party, which is badly divided over [former President Donald] Trump, the one thing that Mitt Romney and, say, Ted Cruz definitely agree on is, China’s a problem,” said Green, referring to the more centrist senator from Utah and more hard-line conservative senator from Texas. That extends to the presidential run as well. “If you want to build a brand as a 2024 Republican candidate that you know will unify the party, it’s China,” he said.

A Strategic Review of “Strategic Ambiguity”

By: Shirley Kan


Shirley Kan is an independent specialist in Asian security affairs who retired from working for Congress at CRS and is a founding Member of GTI’s Advisory Board.

Before retiring at the end of April as the commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM), Admiral Philip Davidson waded into the sensitive issue of whether to jettison “strategic ambiguity.” The debate ironically focuses on a US role in an unwanted conflict rather than in a preferred peaceful outcome for the geo-strategic question of Taiwan. Drifting from ambiguity to clarity is framed as a radically dangerous departure or a needed daring update in policy. Actually, this question is not bold enough. A strategic review that involves Congress is needed to protect US and allied interests in Taiwan as it faces China’s threats. Here are three main reasons why policymakers should focus on strategic success, not just ambiguity.

Congress Cites Concerns

This controversy is the latest in cyclical criticisms of “strategic ambiguity.” Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines assessed that China would see a shift away from that approach to be “deeply destabilizing,” testifying to the Senate Armed Services Committee in April. Kurt Campbell, President Joe Biden’s Coordinator for Indo-Pacific Affairs at the National Security Council, just expressed opposition to “strategic clarity” due to its “significant downsides.”

Taiwan is not an ally, given the termination of the Mutual Defense Treaty with the Republic of China (ROC) at the end of 1979. [1] Observers see uncertainty for both sides of the Taiwan Strait. Washington keeps Beijing afraid of potential US military intervention against the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) if it attacks Taiwan. Washington leaves Taipei unsure of any “blank check” if it seeks de jure independence that would make waves.

Congress has contributed to these debates, especially after the 1995-1996 crisis in the Taiwan Strait. [2] In May 2020, Representative Mike Gallagher launched this current controversy with his clarion call to “stand with Taiwan.” He has argued for an end to “strategic ambiguity” and, instead, “a full-throated defense of Taiwan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” with a “declaratory statement of policy committing the United States to the defense of Taiwan.” He introduced the Taiwan Defense Act to end “strategic ambiguity” and “draw a clear red line through the Taiwan Strait.”

Other Members of Congress have joined this critical congressional catalyst for more careful consideration of policy. Many reasons justify keeping or removing “strategic ambiguity.” But Congress should dive deeper into how to navigate the increasingly hazardous Taiwan Strait.

Admiral Davidson amplified attention to this debate. He testified that this part of policy should be “reconsidered,” answering Senator Rick Scott during a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee in March. In his written testimony, he reiterated a familiar formula, namely, that “the United States continues to support the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues in a manner consistent with the wishes and best interests of the people of Taiwan.” He warned that “the cross-Strait situation is of increasing concern given the harsh rhetoric from Beijing toward Taipei.”

One could say that the Admiral slipped beyond INDOPACOM’s purview in talking about national policy. Nonetheless, he consistently executed his duties in a thoughtful, serious way with advisors who have offered informed counsel, particularly about Taiwan. He also kept the Strategic Focus Group (SFG) on China that a predecessor, Robert Willard, set up in 2010.

Davidson’s thoughtful testimony stands out due to a drought in full reassessment of strategy. A suggestion to reconsider “strategic ambiguity” seems shocking but is actually not bold enough. The lack of a post-1979 strategic review (with only one partial policy review in 1994) is ironic, given China’s changes and the global stakes for allies, prosperity, and war (potentially nuclear).

Suggestion Skims the Surface

Here are three main reasons why the Administration and Congress need a deeper review to safeguard US and allied interests in freedom, peace, and prosperity.

First, Congress intended ambiguity in the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), which is the most important over-riding and legal determination of policy. While the TRA provided for a legal and political obligation to assist Taiwan’s self-defense, the law did not require in advance that the US “shall” help to defend Taiwan. Nonetheless, Congress did not intend to avoid helping Taiwan’s defense. The TRA is not an absolute security guarantee, because Congress intended to protect its prerogative and subject any future decision on war to action by Congress, not only the President. [3] Congress also did not seek to reconstruct a defense agreement.

The ambiguity allows for clarity or flexibility as needed. Moreover, the Six Assurances promised not to revise the TRA.

Second, ambiguity is not the fundamental problem. The Trump Administration, which was forward-leaning in strengthening ties with Taiwan and repairing the arms sales process in favor of regular notifications to Congress, did not throw “strategic ambiguity” overboard. Indeed, President Trump was not clear in an interview in August 2020, when he claimed that China knew what he would do if it invaded Taiwan. He failed to explain a stance to the Congress and country. Last October, while the State Department carefully considered the issue as deserving attention, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declined to ditch “strategic ambiguity” for “strategic clarity.”

So, what is the crux of the challenge? It is deterrence. Over the decades, support for Taiwan has been inconsistent and China-centric at times, but not due to the TRA’s ambiguity. Presidential decisions were weak, for example, in withholding arms sales, Cabinet-rank visits, or trade talks.

Deterrence needs Washington to act with consistency and credibility in strong diplomatic, economic, and military ties with Taipei. Deterrence needs Taipei to strengthen sufficient self-defense with urgent implementation of its Overall Defense Concept. Biden should continue Trump’s routine notifications to Congress of arms sales. Options to boost deterrence include combined exercises and select interoperability. Such steps would be substantive (not symbolic) and proactive (not scrambling to react, like in the 1995-1996 crisis).

Third, casting off “strategic ambiguity” would not be bold enough. Statements still wallow in the muddy waters of our “One China” Policy, which risks the mistaken view of US recognition that Taiwan is part of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The TRA did not discuss a “one China” concept. How should Biden (our uniquely qualified president who voted for the TRA in the Senate) clarify or redefine policy, including with consideration that the PRC commits genocide?

Messages remain murky. In April, the Biden Administration touted new guidelines for the Executive Branch’s contacts with Taiwanese officials, purported to be a liberalizing move. For example, Taiwan’s working-level officials may regularly attend meetings in US government buildings, including the State Department. 

However, Taiwan’s previous and current “ambassadors” met with then-Assistant Secretary David Stilwell at the State Department in July 2020. [4] Taiwan’s military officers have attended meetings at the Pentagon and INDOPACOM for decades. The State Department’s press statement on the guidelines still claimed an “unofficial relationship.” In reality, US and Taiwanese officials have interacted constantly and have concluded official agreements, including government-to-government Foreign Military Sales. In passing the TRA, Congress objected to and omitted the adjective “unofficial” for the relationship. 

Actually, the new guidelines mean backpedaling, because Pompeo, in January, completely rescinded the guidelines as “self-imposed restrictions.” The old guidelines stipulated that, inter alia, official travel was not permitted for defense officials above the level of office director or military officers above the rank of O6 (i.e., colonel, Navy captain), without the State Department’s approval.

The announcement left in its wake some questions for congressional oversight. Is the State Department providing to Congress the guidelines and all other parts of the policy on contacts? Do the guidelines adhere to the TRA and Taiwan Assurance Act? How is the State Department interfering in the Defense Department’s military-to-military exchanges (which included visits by US general and flag officers during the last Administration)? What are the new restrictions?

Current Strategy Lacks an Objective

Our strategy needs an objective. Policymakers merely tread water in calling for a “peaceful resolution.” Policy mantras allude to the process but avoid mention of any preferred outcome. Ironically, arguments in this debate focus on a US fight in a catastrophic conflict but not a US role in a peaceful settlement (e.g., commonwealth). The stakes demand a deep dive into the options for this role.

The strategic aim should be a strong and democratic Taiwan, so that it deters the PLA, remains a force for freedom in the global balance of power, and survives as a legitimate member in the international community. Secretary of State Antony Blinken noted that Taiwan is “a country that can contribute to the world, not just its own people,” answering Representative Young Kim at a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in March.

A coherent strategy with an objective also needs clearly-stated interests. Foremost, Taiwan’s geo-strategic position places it as the inter-locking piece to fortify US allies and to support US and allied interests in the Taiwan Strait, East China Sea, South China Sea, and Western Pacific.

Meanwhile, we should sink “unofficial” contacts and normalize further ties. Washington should lead in disarming Beijing’s political warfare and supporting Taipei’s international participation, particularly during this pandemic. Thus, diplomats should counter China’s fiction that UN General Assembly Resolution 2758 determined that Taiwan is a part of the PRC. In fact, that resolution of 1971 did not even mention Taiwan. We should resume talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, suspended after 2016, and start talks on a trade agreement.

The main point:  
A review of “strategic ambiguity” needs to focus on strategy, not ambiguity. Strategy needs an objective to move from stagnant water to reach a peaceful outcome.
[1] Nancy Bernkopf Tucker argued that “strategic ambiguity” originated earlier as an enduring tool of policy. She wrote that this tool even characterized the US-ROC Mutual Defense Treaty of 1954 under President Dwight Eisenhower. See: Nancy Bernkopf Tucker (editor), Dangerous Strait (New York: Columbia University Press, 2005).
[2] In 1999, the House International Relations Committee debated about ambiguity in consideration of a bill called the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act (not enacted). In 2001, President George W. Bush clearly stated the US obligation to do “whatever it took to help Taiwan defend herself.” (ABC, April 25, 2001) In response, Senator Joe Biden wrote that “we now appear to have a policy of ambiguous strategic ambiguity. It is not an improvement.” (Washington Post, May 2, 2001) In contrast, Senator Richard Lugar, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, contended that Bush’s statement “reflected a common-sense appraisal of the strategic situation in Asia.” (Washington Times, May 17, 2001)

[3] Author’s interviews with Lester Wolff, Representative in the US House who worked on the passage of the TRA. The author dedicates this article to Wolff, who passed away at 102 years old on May 11, 2021.

[4] Author’s consultation with David Stilwell. 
Link to article with embedded citations:
Shirley Kan
Independent Specialist in Asian Security Affairs who worked for Congress at CRS
Founding Member of GTI’s Advisory Board
See analyses at: https://shirleykannet.wordpress.com

​U.S. Calls for Taiwan to Join WHO Meeting, China Warns Against 'Separatist Activities'



The United States has called for Taiwan to be included as an observer in the World Health Organization's upcoming meeting, but China has warned the self-ruling island against any actions intended to divide it from the mainland.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued a statement Friday, arguing that "there is no reasonable justification for Taiwan's continued exclusion" from the World Health Assembly (WHA), an annual international gathering of just about every nation in the world set to take place on May 24. While Taiwan is viewed by the United Nations as part of China, the U.S. feels it deserves it own seat at the table, especially given its early, effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which was first observed in China's Hubei province.

Taiwan previously participated in the forum as an observer under the name "Chinese Taipei" from 2008 through 2016, but the invite was revoked amid a rise in cross-strait tensions following the election of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) President Tsai Ing-wen.

"Global health and global health security challenges do not respect borders nor recognize political disputes," Blinken said. "Taiwan offers valuable contributions and lessons learned from its approach to these issues, and WHO leadership and all responsible nations should recognize that excluding the interests of 24 million people at the WHA serves only to imperil, not advance, our shared global health objectives."

And though Washington severed official ties with Taipei in favor of Beijing about half a century ago, the U.S. continues to provide political and military assistance to the island.

"Taiwan is a reliable partner, a vibrant democracy, and a force for good in the world, and its exclusion from the WHA would be detrimental to our collective international efforts to get the pandemic under control and prevent future health crises," Blinken added. "We urge Taiwan's immediate invitation to the World Health Assembly."

The ongoing, informal yet expanding relationship between the U.S. and Taiwan has fueled anger in China, where President Xi Jinping has pledged to reintegrate Taiwan either through diplomacy or force. A sharp increase in People's Liberation Army activity through airspace claimed by Taiwan has caused concern on the island that its rival may be gearing up for an invasion.

These concerns were voiced by Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, referred to in Mandarin as Wu Zhaoxie, in an interview Wednesday with the Australian Financial Review.

On Friday, China's Taiwan Affairs Office reacted strongly, with spokesperson Zhu Fenglian "telling the DPP authorities, Wu Zhaoxie and others not to misjudge the situation."

"'Taiwan independence' is a dead end," Zhu was quoted as saying by her office. "We have the determination and ability to thwart all 'Taiwan independence' separatist activities, resolutely defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity, and resolutely safeguard the common interests of compatriots on both sides of the strait."

She said that the cause of an independent Taiwan and those who support it were doomed.

"We will never leave any room for various forms of 'Taiwan independence' separatist activities," Zhu added. "All 'Taiwan independence' elements who sell their national interests and split China will eventually face trial by history and a day of reckoning."


An island that lies within territory claimed by Taiwan is seen on February 4 off the coast of Lieyu, an outlying island of Kinmen that is the closest point between Taiwan and mainland China, located less than three miles away from the deep-water port of Xiamen.AN RONG XU/GETTY IMAGES

Taiwan has been an influential factor in the deterioration of relations between the U.S. and China that began under former President Donald Trump, who broke early on by accepting Tsai's congratulatory phone call shortly after his election. His successor, President Joe Biden, has also pledged to shore up support for Taiwan and even invited the island's de facto envoy to the U.S. to his inauguration in January.

The Biden administration has also vowed, however, to maintain a "One-China policy" that governs both its official relationship with Beijing and its unofficial ties to Taipei. China has refused to engage in diplomacy with any country that establishes formal ties with Taiwan, and today only 14 countries and the Holy See have relations with the island.

There are two ways in which Taiwan would be permitted to participate in the upcoming WHA gathering, as relayed to Newsweek in a statement.

"Taiwanese observership at the World Health Assembly is a question for the 194 Member States of WHO to consider and decide upon," according to the WHO. "The World Health Assembly can invite observers through a resolution or decision adopted by a simple majority of its 194 Members."

When it comes to issues of international concern, Taiwan officials have argued the world would benefit from having them join the conversation.

"The pandemic has reminded the world that disease knows no borders, and that all countries need to work together to prepare for the next public health event," the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in New York said in a statement sent to Newsweek. "It has also exposed the absurdity of excluding Taiwan from the global health body, especially given how the information it provided at the early stage could have had an impact on containing the virus."

The office touted Taiwan's success in combating the coronavirus disease and issued five demands for the WHO. These included allowing Taiwan to join the WHO-led public health network, providing the contact information for Taiwan's Centers for Disease Control in the International Health Regulations intranet, establishing a relationship between the WHO Western Pacific Regional Office and Taiwan, listing Taiwan's disease cases separately from those of China and allowing Taiwan to participate in technical meetings.

"The WHO must fully accept Taiwan's participation," the office said.

The cause has won bipartisan support from lawmakers of the U.S. Congress as well. A proposed bill entitled the Strategic Competition Act would compel the Biden administration to further support efforts for Taiwan's participation in international organizations such as the World Health Organization, as well as to investigate alleged Chinese influence they see as expanding within these institutions.

The prospect of Taiwan being admitted to the World Health Assembly was also backed in a joint statement published by the Group of Seven, or G7, which includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy Japan, the United Kingdom and the U.S.

"To strengthen global cooperation on issues of concern to all we believe it is vital to ensure inclusive processes in international organisations," the communique read. "We support Taiwan's meaningful participation in World Health Organisation forums and the World Health Assembly. The international community should be able to benefit from the experience of all partners, including Taiwan's successful contribution to the tackling of the COVID-19 pandemic."

The group also noted that member states "remain seriously concerned about the situation in and around the East and South China Seas."

"We underscore the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and encourage the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues," the statement read. "We reiterate our strong opposition to any unilateral actions that could escalate tensions and undermine regional stability and the international rules-based order and express serious concerns about reports of militarisation, coercion, and intimidation in the region."

The U.S. has stepped up its own military movements and activities in the skies and seas surrounding Taiwan as China flexed its muscles.

With tensions high in the region, a senior State Department official also discussed the matter of Taiwan participating in the WHO and WHA ahead of the statement's release.

"It's not just that Taiwan should have a right to be there, because you don't have to be a state to be a participant in it, but that they have a lot to bring to the table, particularly on COVID," the official told reporters on Wednesday. "They have a lot of experience in this that can help all of us, and it just seems really self-defeating to exclude them."

In Beijing, however, the idea has been outright rejected.

"The participation of China's Taiwan region in activities of international organizations, including the WHO, which consists of sovereign nations, must be handled in accordance with the one-China principle," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said during a daily press briefing Thursday.

This, he said, "is an important principle" established by U.N. General Assembly Resolution 2758, which facilitated China's replacement of Tawain at the U.N. in 1971, and WHA Resolution 25.1, which reiterated this transition the following year.

"The G7, as a grouping of developed nations, should take more concrete actions to boost world economic recovery and help accelerate developing countries' growth, rather than stoking confrontation and difference and disrupting global economic recovery," Wang said.

​Taiwan fights to attend WHO meeting, but China says no

By Syndicated Content

May 10, 2021 7:16 AM


TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan will fight to the end for an invitation to a World Health Organization (WHO) meeting this month, its foreign ministry said on Monday, but China said there was no room for compromise over the island Beijing claims as its own.

The rich-nation Group of Seven (G7) has called for Chinese-claimed but democratically-ruled Taiwan to attend the WHO’s decision-making body, the World Health Assembly, which meets from May 24.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated that on Sunday and Taiwan says it is urgent during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Taiwan Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou said they had yet to receive an invite.

“But the Foreign Ministry will continue to work together with the Ministry of Health and Welfare to fight to the last minute and do everything possible for our right to participate in the meeting,” she said in a statement.

Taiwan is locked out of most global organisations such as the WHO due to the objections of China, which considers the island one of its provinces not a country.

The WHO says it is up to member states whether to invite Taiwan, which has been praised internationally for quickly containing the coronavirus, to observe the WHA meeting.

Such an invite would need a vote, and China can easily corral enough friendly countries to block it, according to diplomats.

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying condemned the United States for its “political manipulation” of the issue, and said Taiwan had to accept it was part of China if it wanted access to global bodies, something the government will not do.

“I want to emphasise once again that the Taiwan issue concerns China’s core interests. China has no room for compromise,” Hua told reporters.

The WHO did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Taiwan says it is nonsense for China to claim it has the right to speak for it on the international stage when Beijing has no say in how it is governed.

The WHO says it has cooperated with Taiwan during the pandemic and that the island has received help needed.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting by David Kirton in Beijing; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

Chances of Taiwan WHA bid’s success better than before

06 May, 2021 
Paula Chao

Health Minister Chen Shih-chung says the chances of Taiwan’s bid to return to the World Health Assembly as an observer are better than in previous years. Chen was speaking Thursday during an interview.

The World Health Assembly is the decision-making body of the WHO. Taiwan has been barred from the assembly’s annual meeting for several years in a row due to Chinese pressure. But Chen says Taiwan has won tremendous support from the global community this year, and has a good chance of receiving a letter of invitation to attend the annual event.

United States State Department spokesperson Ned Price has tweeted that Washington supports Taiwan’s bid.

Biden Backs Taiwan, but Some Call for a Clearer Warning to China

As China grows stronger and bolder, some experts want to end Washington’s decades-long policy of “strategic ambiguity.”


By Michael Crowley

April 8, 2021

New York Times

WASHINGTON — If anything can tip the global power struggle between China and the United States into an actual military conflict, many experts and administration officials say, it is the fate of Taiwan.

Beijing has increased its military harassment of what it considers a rogue territory, including menacing flights by 15 Chinese warplanes near its shores over recent days. In response, Biden administration officials are trying to calibrate a policy that protects the democratic, technology-rich island without inciting an armed conflict that would be disastrous for all.

Under a longstanding — and famously convoluted — policy derived from America’s “one China” stance that supports Taiwan without recognizing it as independent, the United States provides political and military support for Taiwan, but does not explicitly promise to defend it from a Chinese attack.

As China’s power and ambition grow, however, and Beijing assesses Washington to be weakened and distracted, a debate is underway whether the United States should make a clearer commitment to the island’s defense, in part to reduce the risk of a miscalculation by China that could lead to unwanted war.

The debate reflects a core foreign policy challenge seizing the Biden administration as it devises its wider Asia strategy. At the White House, the State Department and the Pentagon, which is reviewing its military posture in Asia, officials are re-evaluating core tenets of American strategy for a new and more dangerous phase of competition with China.

American officials warn that China is growing more capable of invading the island democracy of nearly 24 million people, situated about 100 miles off the coast of mainland China, whose status has obsessed Beijing since Chinese nationalists retreated and formed a government there after the country’s 1949 Communist revolution.

Last month, the military commander for the Indo-Pacific region, Adm. Philip S. Davidson, described what he sees as a risk that China could try to reclaim Taiwan by force within the next six years.

The United States has long avoided saying how it would respond to such an attack. While Washington supports Taiwan with diplomatic contacts, arms sales, firm language and even occasional military maneuvers, there are no guarantees. No statement, doctrine or security agreement compels the United States to come to Taiwan’s rescue. A 1979 congressional law states only that “any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means” would be of “grave concern to the United States.”

The result is known as “strategic ambiguity,” a careful balance intended both to avoid provoking Beijing or emboldening Taiwan into a formal declaration of independence that could lead to a Chinese invasion.

Biden administration officials, who are formulating their China policies, are giving special attention to Taiwan, and trying to determine whether strategic ambiguity is sufficient to protect the increasingly vulnerable island from Beijing’s designs. But they also realize that Americans may look unfavorably at new, faraway military commitments after two decades of bloody and costly conflict in the Middle East.

That is why Admiral Davidson raised eyebrows last month when he acknowledged under questioning, in a departure from standard government messaging, that the policy “should be reconsidered,” adding, “I would look forward to the conversation.”

“I think there’s been a shift in peoples’ thinking,” said Richard N. Haass, a former director of policy planning at the State Department under President George W. Bush and now the president of the Council on Foreign Relations. “What you’ve seen over the last year is an acceleration of concern in the United States about Taiwan.” He described a sense that “this delicate situation that appeared to have been successfully managed or finessed for decades, suddenly people woke up to the possibility that that era has come to an end.”

Mr. Haass helped prompt a conversation on the subject last year after publishing an essay in the September issue of Foreign Affairs magazine that declared that strategic ambiguity had “run its course.”

“The time has come for the United States to introduce a policy of strategic clarity: one that makes explicit that the United States would respond to any Chinese use of force against Taiwan,” Mr. Haass wrote with his colleague David Sacks.

Mr. Haass and Mr. Sacks added that the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, may question America’s willingness to defend its alliances after four years under President Donald J. Trump, who railed against “endless wars” and openly questioned the United States’ relationships and security commitments. While more hawkish-sounding, a clearer pledge would be safer, they argued.

“Such a policy would lower the chances of Chinese miscalculation, which is the likeliest catalyst for war in the Taiwan Strait,” Mr. Haass and Mr. Sacks wrote.

In recent months, the idea has been gaining traction, including on Capitol Hill.


Senator Rick Scott, Republican of Florida, has introduced a bill that would authorize the president to take military action to defend Taiwan against a Chinese attack — making America’s intentions ambiguous no more. When Mr. Haass testified last month before a House Foreign Relations Committee panel on Asia, he was peppered with questions about how to deter the Chinese threat to Taiwan.

In remarks in February at an event hosted by The Washington Post, Robert M. Gates, a former defense secretary and C.I.A. director who served under presidents of both parties, including Mr. Bush and Barack Obama, called Taiwan the facet of U.S.-China relations that concerned him the most.

Mr. Gates said that it might be “time to abandon our longtime strategy of strategic ambiguity toward Taiwan.”

The notion gained another unlikely adherent when former Representative Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat and longtime dove on military issues, argued in an opinion essay in The Hill newspaper last month that on human rights grounds, the United States must guarantee that a thriving Asian democracy be protected from “forcible absorption into an unashamedly brutal regime that exemplifies the denial of fundamental human rights.”

Mr. Frank cited China’s “imperviousness to any other consideration” than force as reason to “save 23 million Taiwanese from losing their basic human rights.”

Though of limited value in territorial terms, Taiwan in recent years has also gained a greater strategic importance as one of the world’s leading producers of semiconductors — the high-tech equivalent of oil in the emerging supercomputing showdown between the United States and China, which faces microchip supply shortages.

Those factors combined have led the Biden administration to offer displays of support for Taiwan that some experts call surprisingly forceful.

When China sent dozens of warplanes over the Taiwan Strait days after Mr. Biden’s inauguration in January, the State Department released a statement declaring America’s “rock solid” commitment to the island. Mr. Biden raised the subject of Taiwan during his phone call in February with Mr. Xi, and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and the national security adviser Jake Sullivan raised their concerns about the island during their meeting last month in Anchorage with two top Chinese officials.

“I think people are bending over backward to say to China, ‘Do not miscalculate — we strongly support Taiwan,’” said Bonnie Glaser, the director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Ms. Glaser said she had been surprised at the Biden team’s early approach toward Taiwan, which so far has maintained the Trump administration’s amplified political support for the island, a posture some critics called overly provocative. She noted that Mr. Blinken had recently urged Paraguay’s president in a phone call to maintain his country’s formal ties with Taiwan, despite pressure from Beijing, and that the U.S. ambassador to Palau, an archipelago state in the Western Pacific, recently joined a diplomatic delegation from that country to Taiwan.

“That is just really outside of normal diplomatic practice,” Ms. Glaser said. “I think that was quite unexpected.”

But Ms. Glaser does not support a more explicit U.S. commitment to Taiwan’s defense. Like many other analysts and American officials, she fears that such a change in policy might provoke China.

“Maybe then Xi is backed into a corner. This could really cause China to make the decision to invade,” she warned.

Others worry that a concrete American security guarantee would embolden Taiwan’s leaders to formally declare independence — an act that, however symbolic it may seem given the island’s 70-plus years of autonomy, would cross a clear red line for Beijing.

“Taiwan independence means war,” a spokesman for China’s Defense Ministry, Wu Qian, said in January.

Some analysts say the Biden administration might manage to deter China without provoking it through more forceful warnings that stop short of an explicit promise to defend Taiwan. U.S. officials can also issue private warnings to Beijing that do not put Mr. Xi at risk of publicly losing face.

“We just need China to understand that we would come to Taiwan’s defense,” said Elbridge A. Colby, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy and force development under Mr. Trump.

The United States has long provided military hardware to Taiwan, including billions of dollars in arms sales under the Trump administration that featured fighter jets and air-to-ground missiles allowing Taiwanese planes to strike China. Such equipment is meant to diminish Taiwan’s need for an American intervention should it come under attack.

But Mr. Colby and others say the United States must develop a more credible military deterrent in the Pacific region to match recent advances by China’s military.

Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee last month, H.R. McMaster, a national security adviser for Mr. Trump, said the current ambiguity was sufficient.

“The message to China ought to be, ‘Hey, you can assume that the United States won’t respond’ — but that was the assumption made in June of 1950, as well, when North Korea invaded South Korea,” Mr. McMaster said.

Biden calls Taiwan 'critical economic and security partner'
US president lauds Taiwan as 'leading democracy,' vows to honor 'longstanding American commitments'  
By Keoni Everington, Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2021/03/04 12:18

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — President Joe Biden described Taiwan as a "critical economic and security partner" in a security document released Wednesday (March 3) and reaffirmed the U.S.' long-term commitments to the country.

In a document titled "Interim National Security Strategic Guidance" released by the White House on Wednesday, Biden started by emphasizing his belief that "Democracy holds the key to freedom, prosperity, peace, and dignity." He wrote that it is time for the U.S. to show that "Democracy can still deliver for our people and for people around the world."

Biden stated that when the Chinese government's behavior directly threatens American interests and values, "We will answer Beijing's challenge." In an apparent reference to freedom of navigation operations conducted by the U.S. in the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea, Biden wrote that the country will continue to "defend access to the global commons, including freedom of navigation and overflight rights, under international law."

The president pledged that the U.S. will use diplomatic and military methods to defend its allies. Amid Beijing's attempts in recent years to influence elections in Taiwan, he stated that the U.S. will back "China’s neighbors and commercial partners in defending their rights to make independent political choices free of coercion or undue foreign influence."

Biden then vowed that the U.S. will support Taiwan, which he described as a "leading democracy and critical economic and security partner." He added that this support will follow "longstanding American commitments."

He wrote of taking steps to prevent U.S. companies from "sacrificing American values" when operating in China. The president then promised that the U.S. will work with like-minded nations to "stand up for democracy, human rights, and human dignity, including in Hong Kong, Xinjiang, and Tibet."

In response, Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) Spokesperson Joanne Ou (歐江安) said that since taking office, the Biden administration has continuously demonstrated strong support for Taiwan and has repeatedly reiterated its commitment to Taiwan’s security as being "rock solid." She asserted that Taiwan and the U.S. "share the same philosophy and common goals for safeguarding the values ​​of freedom and democracy."

She pledged that MOFA will continue to work closely with the Biden administration to further strengthen the close global partnership based on the long-term friendship between Taiwan and the United States.

​MARCH 2, 20217:46 AM

U.S., Canada hail Taiwan's 'freedom pineapples' after Chinese ban

By Reuters Staff





TAIPEI (Reuters) - The de facto U.S. and Canadian embassies in Taiwan on Tuesday praised the quality of pineapples grown on the island, depicting photographs of their top diplomats in Taipei with the fruit after an import ban by China.


China last week stopped the import of Taiwanese pineapples, citing “harmful creatures” it said could come with the fruit.


Infuriated Taiwanese authorities called the ban a political move to further pressure the island, a charge that China denied.


While neither the United States nor Canada, like most countries, have formal diplomatic ties with the Chinese-claimed island, both have their own disputes with Beijing over human rights, trade and other issues.



While Taiwan is best known internationally for its thriving tech companies, the sub-tropical island has a flourishing fruit industry. Last year, more than 90% of its exported pineapples went to China.


Referencing a tweet by Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu for people around the world to “rally behind the #FreedomPineapple”, the Canadian Trade Office, on Taipei’s Facebook page, used the same hashtag on a picture of its chief, Jordan Reeves, posing with colleagues around a pineapple pizza.


“We in the Canadian Office like pineapple pizza, especially pineapples from Taiwan!” it wrote, adding that the idea to put pineapple on a pizza was invented by a Canadian in 1962.




The American Institute in Taiwan, under the hashtags #realfriendsrealprogress and #pineapplesolidarity, posted Facebook pictures of pineapples on their Taipei premises, including of its director Brent Christensen with three on his desk.


“Have you bought your pineapples? We have!” it wrote.


Local politicians have, meanwhile, posted pictures of themselves in fields with farmers and tucking into the fruit on their social media pages, encouraging domestic consumers as well as other countries to pick up the slack left by China.


Reporting by Ben Blanchard; editing by John Stonestreet and Bernadette Baum

US congressmen call to end “One China” policy and resume ties with Taiwan

02 March, 2021

Shirley Lin



Two US congressmen on Monday introduced a bill calling on the US to put an end to the “One China” policy, to resume formal ties with Taiwan and begin talks on a free trade agreement between Taiwan and the US.


US Congressmen Tom Tiffany (R-WI) and Scott Perry (R-PA) proposed the bill. Tiffany said, “For more than 40 years, American presidents of both political parties have repeated Beijing’s bogus lie that Taiwan is part of Communist China – despite the objective reality that it is not. It is time to do away with this outdated policy.”


Perry said, “As an independent Nation that proudly collaborates with Taiwan across a wide spectrum of issues, it’s long past time The United States exercised our sovereign right to state what the world knows to be true: Taiwan is an independent country, and has been for over 70 years.”


The resolution states that Taiwan and its offshore islands are not under Bejing’s governance and Beijing continues to illegally assert its sovereignty over Taiwan. It cites that Beijing has weaponized the “One China” policy and prevented Taiwan from participating in the UN, WHO and the Olympics.


It also says that the outdated “One China” policy does not benefit both the Taiwanese and the American people. It also does not reflect the fact that Taiwan has been a sovereign independent country for more than 70 years.


The resolution calls on US presidents to recognize the legitimacy of Taiwan’s democratically elected government and allow the exchange of ambassadors between the two countries. It also says the US president should also repeal the guidelines that restrict communication between Taiwan and US officials.


Meanwhile, Taiwan’s foreign ministry spokesperson Joanne Ou on Tuesday expressed thanks to the US congressmen for the resolution.

US likely to pass Taiwan protection bill: academics
‘CORNERED ENEMY’: China’s rise is threatening peace and stability, and the US would aim to restrict it with help from allies in the Asia-Pacific, Soong Hseik-wen said 

By Wu Su-wei and William Hetherington / Staff reporter, with staff writer
Taiwan News

Tue, Feb 23, 2021
 A draft bill on protecting Taiwan from invasion is likely to be passed by the US Congress, but it remains to be seen how US President Joe Biden’s administration would implement the act if it is passed, Taiwanese academics said on Sunday. 

US Senator Rick Scott and US Representative Guy Reschenthaler on Thursday reintroduced the proposed Taiwan Invasion Prevention Act, which was shelved in September last year due to the impending US presidential election. 

Arthur Ding (丁樹範), a professor at National Chengchi University’s College of International Affairs, and Soong Hseik-wen (宋學文), a professor at National Chung Cheng University’s Graduate Institute of Strategy and International Affairs, said that the bill is likely to receive overwhelming support from US lawmakers. 

Support for Taiwan under Biden is likely to remain unchanged from that under former US president Donald Trump, but specific policies would differ between the two administrations, Ding said. 

China’s rise is threatening the peace and stability the US established in the Asia-Pacific region after World War II, Soong said. 

“The bill is likely to pass, but the US would not advance prematurely on issues related to China. Biden would focus on internal issues first, and would take input from all sides on China,” he said. 

The US would adopt a posture of readiness with its allies in the region, with whom it would seek to jointly restrict China’s rise, Soong said. 

“With 40 years of political experience, Biden knows there is no need to chase a cornered enemy,” he said. “However, with the structural conflicts in the US-China relationship growing stronger, Biden cannot afford to give in.”

“China has already come under fire for its handling of the [COVID-19] pandemic, and for its wolf warrior diplomacy. Taiwan should continue to strengthen its democracy to further contrast itself from China in the international community,” Ding said. 

Soong said Taiwan must continue to develop its asymmetrical warfare capabilities, while seeking to leverage its successful response to the pandemic and its strength in the semiconductor industry to expand its diplomatic space. 

“Taiwan should also continue to emphasize that it is strategically important not only because of its geographical position in the first island chain, but also its political position as a strong democracy,” he said

MOFA says Taiwan-US relations under Biden administration stable
Taiwan focused on gaining unanimous support from both major US political parties: Foreign Ministry  653  
By Kelvin Chen, Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2021/02/18 17:12

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) stated Thursday (Feb. 18) that Taiwan-U.S. relations under the new Biden administration are stable and that Washington’s support for the nation has not wavered.

The director of MOFA’s North American Affairs bureau, Douglas Yu-tien Hsu (徐佑典), said at a regular press conference that Taiwan-U.S. relations are steadily deepening, and he reiterated the ministry’s previous statement that Taiwan has always sought unanimous support from both the Democratic and Republican parties.

Hsu pointed to the Taiwan-U.S.-Japan Global Cooperation and Training Framework (GCTF) and new dialogue mechanisms established by Taiwan and the U.S. in the second half of last year, including the Taiwan-US Economic Prosperity Partnership Dialogueand an infrastructure finance and market-building cooperation framework agreement. He also noted that the two countries discussed last month the launch of the Taiwan-U.S. Education Initiative and signed a scientific and technology cooperation agreement.

When asked about his thoughts on Biden’s comments on China and Taiwan during a recent CNN town hall session, Hsu observed that in the past month, Biden and a number of U.S. government officials have expressed grave concern about the situation in the Taiwan Strait and China’s recent provocations against Taiwan. They have also reiterated that they will continue upholding American security commitments as stipulated by the Taiwan Relations Act and the Six Assurances, he said

McCaul Statement on State Department action implementing the Taiwan Assurance

ActPress Release 01.10.21
Media Contact 202-225-5021

Washington, D.C. – In 2019, House Foreign Affairs Committee Lead Republican Michael McCaul introduced the Taiwan Assurance Act, a bipartisan, bicameral bill requiring the State Department to reassess self-imposed restrictions on U.S. relations with Taiwan. The Act became law in December 2020, and this week, the State Department took action to lift all such restrictions. Lead Republican McCaul made the following statement:

“I am pleased to see the State Department take swift and decisive action to implement the bipartisan Taiwan Assurance Act, which I introduced to ensure we move beyond the outdated red tape limiting our relationship with Taiwan. Since Congress established U.S.-Taiwan relations in 1979, Taiwan has grown into a vital democracy and critical U.S. partner. Due to our shared priorities today of confronting the generational threat posed by the CCP, it is time to eliminate this unnecessary bureaucracy so we can deepen our ties with Taiwan and help to bolster them against further marginalization by the CCP’s growing aggression.”


​Biden could struggle with Taiwan issue rocking U.S.-China relations, says political risk expert



Yen Nee Lee


The Biden administration “is certainly going to struggle with the conduct of relations with Taiwan,” said Ross Feingold, an expert on political risk.

President-elect Joe Biden will take over from an a predecessor who broke with decades of U.S. foreign policy on Taiwan.

Among other things, the Trump administration conducted high-level visits to Taiwan — angering Beijing which considers the island a runaway province that must be reunited with the mainland.

The incoming Biden administration could struggle in managing its relationship with Taiwan — a precarious issue that has contributed to worsening U.S.-China relations, an expert on political risk said on Tuesday.


President Donald Trump broke with decades of U.S. foreign policy by moving his country closer to Taiwan over the last four years — angering Beijing which considers the democratic and self-ruled island a runaway province that must one day be reunited with the mainland.


The Chinese Communist Party has never governed Taiwan.


“The Biden administration is certainly going to struggle with the conduct of relations with Taiwan,” Ross Feingold, director of business development at security advisory firm SafePro Group, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia.”


“Over the past four years, the Trump administration has taken many steps to really engage with Taiwan in the same way that United States would engage with other foreign countries even if they’re still not using the terminology or having formal diplomatic relations,” he said.


Steps taken by the Trump administration include conducting high-level visits to Taiwan. This week, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft is scheduled to travel to Taipei and is expected to meet with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.


Over the weekend, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the lifting of all “self-imposed restrictions” on contact between U.S. officials and their Taiwanese counterparts. That’s a move that former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd — who’s also an astute China observer — said could put an end to the “one China policy” underpinning U.S.-China relations.


Beijing, as expected, slammed all of those moves by the Trump administration.


It is currently unclear what President-elect Joe Biden’s stance is on Taiwan, said Feingold, who’s also senior advisor at political risk consultancy DC International Advisory. He told CNBC in an email that Biden may simply continue with policies that the Trump administration has implemented.


“The enthusiasm for new or bold additional moves might be different, or non-existent,” he said.

Kelly Craft: US envoy's 'last-minute' Taiwan visit angers China


January 12, 2021


A top US diplomat's upcoming trip to Taiwan as Washington ends decades-old curbs on contacts with Taipei has again escalated Sino-American tensions.

Kelly Craft, the US ambassador to the UN, is due to arrive in Taipei on Wednesday for a three-day visit.

Her last-minute trip - days before Donald Trump's presidency ends - has incensed China.

Self-governing Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its own territory, has hailed the shift in diplomatic relations.

Ambassador Craft's visit comes after a year of mounting hostility between Washington and Beijing.

The democratic island of Taiwan has been a major thorn in the deteriorating relationship. Under President Trump the US has established closer ties with Taipei - ramping up arms sales and sending senior officials to the territory despite fierce warnings from China.

Most recently, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US would end the "self-imposed restrictions" on contacts between US and Taiwan officials that were introduced decades ago to "appease" the mainland Chinese government, which lays claim to the island.

At the same time the US has bitterly clashed with Beijing on multiple fronts including trade, human rights and the coronavirus pandemic.

Why is this trip happening now?

The high-profile visit was only announced late last week by Mr Pompeo.

At the end of a statement condemning the mass arrests of democracy advocates in Hong Kong, he also added that Ambassador Craft would visit Taiwan.

It will make her the third senior American official sent to the island since August on a trip that begins just a week before the inauguration of Joe Biden as US president and the end of Mr Trump's term.

Taiwan was "a reliable partner and vibrant democracy that has flourished despite CCP [Communist Chinese Party] efforts", Mr Pompeo said in characteristically direct language, adding: "Taiwan shows what a free China could achieve".

Evan Resnick, an assistant professor at Singapore's S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, called it a "provocative" last-minute move by Mr Trump's administration.

It appears designed to "fling mud in China's eye" and make things "harder for the incoming Biden administration", he told the BBC.

Such "chaotic, imprudent" steps have been "customary" under Mr Trump, Dr Resnick added, saying the trip would likely bring "even more instability" to Sino-American relations at a time the US should be cooperating with China on issues such as the pandemic and climate crisis.

How will this bode for Biden?

The trip has already triggered an angry response from China, further damaging its relationship with the US as Mr Biden prepares to take over.

"The United States will pay a heavy price for its wrong action," the Chinese mission to the UN said in a statement last week in response to Ambassador Craft's planned trip.

"China strongly urges the United States to stop its crazy provocation, stop creating new difficulties for China-US relations... and stop going further on the wrong path," it said.

Beijing reiterated its sharp warning to the US a few days later, when Mr Pompeo announced that America would scrap the long-time restrictions on its interactions with Taiwanese officials.

"Any actions which harm China's core interests will be met with a firm counter-attack and will not succeed," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lijian Zhao told reporters on Monday.

The substance of the new US administration's policies on China and Taiwan remains to be seen but Dr Resnick believes a "much more coherent" strategy will be deployed.

"It's going to want to repudiate so many of Trump's polices," he said, adding that Beijing may just be waiting to see what the incoming administration does and "whether it starts to cool temperatures a bit".

What is the China-Taiwan divide about?

China and Taiwan have had separate governments since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949.

Beijing has consistently tried to limit Taiwan's international activities and both have vied for influence in the Pacific region.

It's why Ambassador Craft's trip is highly symbolic, as Taiwan is not a member of the UN or most global institutions due to Beijing's objections.

The US has no official diplomatic ties with Taipei - like most nations - though it is bound by law to provide the island with the means to defend itself.

So the ending of long-time restrictions governing official contacts announced by Mr Pompeo over the weekend marked a major shift in relations. Taipei immediately hailed the move as ending "decades of discrimination".

media captionPresident Tsai Ing-wen tells China to “face reality” and show Taiwan respect

Tensions between China and Taiwan have intensified in recent years and Beijing has not ruled out the use of force to take the island back.

In the face of these growing threats, Taiwan's government has not held back in asserting itself.

On her re-election for a second term last year President Tsai Ing-wen told the BBC that the sovereignty of Taiwan was not up for negotiation.

"We are an independent country already and we call ourselves the Republic of China (Taiwan)," she said.

Reporting by Preeti Jha

​U.S. diplomat voices support for Taiwan in human rights speech


12/15/2020 12:47 PM


Focus Taiwan


New York, Dec. 14 (CNA) U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft on Monday called for comprehensive reforms to the U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC), criticizing the body for empowering China while denying a voice to those, including Taiwan, it mistreats.

In a speech at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative U.S. think tank, Craft reiterated the United States' reasons for leaving the U.N. Human Rights Council and proposed a series of reforms that should take place before it considers rejoining.

According to Craft, U.S. President Donald Trump initially tried to reform the council from within, but made "the principled decision" to withdraw in 2018 when the U.S.' proposed changes failed to win support.

"Sadly, the U.N. organization charged with the protection and promotion of human rights ... includes the voices of the very human rights violators it was designed to counter," she said.

One of the 15 members elected to the council in October was China, a country known for "egregious examples of human rights abuses," Craft said.

The "outrage" of such a decision "stands in stark contrast to Taiwan, a true force for good in the world," she said.

In order to truly protect human rights, Craft said, "responsible nations" of the world must come together to demand reforms to the HRC.

These changes should include stricter membership criteria, a higher threshold for election to the council and the elimination of bias against countries like Israel, she said.

Delaying the reforms, Craft said, would betray the victims of human rights abuses by perpetuating "the bitter irony of having to watch the government that abused them sit on the human rights council."

"I cannot turn away from the mistreatment of the Taiwanese, the Hong Kongers, the Tibetans, the Uyghers, the Rohingyas and many more," she said.

The U.N. Human Rights Council consists of 47 members elected for staggered three-year terms on a regional basis.

Fifteen new members of the council will be seated in January: Bolivia, China, Côte d'Ivoire, Cuba, France, Gabon, Malawi, Mexico, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Senegal, Ukraine, United Kingdom and Uzbekistan.

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, who has expressed interest in rejoining the council, has said he plans to nominate career diplomat Linda Thomas-Greenfield as Craft's successor after taking office on Jan. 20.

(By Ozzy Yin and Matthew Mazzetta)



Taiwan’s opportunities and risks during the post-Trump, new Biden era

Eric Yu-Chua Huang



Monday, December 14, 2020


Editor's Note: 

This piece is part of the Taiwan-U.S. Quarterly Analysis series, which features the original writings of experts from the United States and Taiwan, with the goal of providing a range of perspectives on developments relating to Taiwan.

There are historical, national security, and economic reasons behind Taiwan’s support for the United States. Though the Taiwanese population had been nonchalant throughout the past few U.S. elections, the 2020 U.S. presidential election was highly anticipated. According to a YouGov poll conducted prior to the election, Taiwan was perhaps the only close U.S. ally, other than Israel, whose citizens expressed overwhelming support for President Trump’s reelection. The reasons may vary, but the predominate reason lies in popular concerns about China’s ambitious rise — which most Taiwanese perceive as a threat.

Trump changed the style of U.S. global leadership by shifting from multilateralism to focusing on bilateral relations, significantly impacting the post-World War II world order. Many Taiwanese viewed this shift favorably and dubbed Trump as a “pro-Taiwan American president” who worked to contain China to protect Taiwan’s security and democracy. Contrary to popular belief in Taiwan, however, Biden’s “substance over symbolism” approach could return the international order closer to pre-Trump normalcy, a foreign policy move that could help further elevate the U.S.-Taiwan relationship. A hopeful and healthy rebalance in U.S. foreign policy in terms of ends, ways, and means can benefit Taipei, Washington, and Beijing.


In 2014, then-Secretary of State John Kerry referred to U.S.-China ties as a special and important relationship. He witnessed the relationship develop from a bilateral one to a complex global one. This transformation would be an understatement in describing the current global situation amidst a COVID-19 pandemic that has taken 2020 by storm. Beijing’s declaration of the “Chinese dream” and the growth of Chinese ambition since the 19th Party Congress has fundamentally impacted the world. Taiwan stands on the front line against regional hegemony, which is a precondition to China’s global rise, in Beijing’s revisionist view.

President-elect Biden respects multilateralism and a rules-based international system. Through leading by example and seeking collaboration with U.S. allies, the United States has the opportunity to once again restore its image as the leader of the free world, a step that would strengthen its ability to address the so-called China threat.

American scholars might see the China threat as the Chinese government’s efforts to game its exports; target businesses, academic institutions, researchers, and lawmakers; and pursue technical espionage and high-tech competition. For Taiwan, China is viewed as a threat to its democracy and national security. Taiwan’s concerns about China align with Washington’s geopolitical and ideological concerns.

Though not all Taiwanese have given up the idea of a peaceful reunification with a democratic China, supporters of reunification have been mostly silenced by the Chinese government’s aggressive behavior in recent years. The anti-China sentiment in Taiwan snowballed as people witnessed developments in Hong Kong.

Despite a longstanding relationship with alternating political parties in power, Taiwan and the U.S. are naturally closer when their views of the Taiwan-U.S.-China triangular relationship converge. Now, an increasingly assertive China across the board is viewed as a common challenge by both Washington and Taipei. There is reason to believe that the incoming Biden administration will tread more carefully and strategically to prevent U.S.-China tensions from escalating into a hot war — what former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt M. Campbell and Jake Sullivan described as competition without catastrophe.

The Biden administration will prioritize “substance over symbolism” when engaging with Taiwan and other allies. Its broader policy platform will not be nearly as vocal and demanding as the previous administration. Biden’s national security adviser nominee Jake Sullivan wrote in May 2020: “So long as Washington retains a strong military position along the first island chain, regional powers — from Vietnam to Taiwan to Japan — will try to resist China’s rise rather than accommodate it.” From this, it could be inferred that the U.S. will help Taiwan bolster in its asymmetrical military capabilities, strengthening the island’s defensive deterrence against Beijing — the “substance” of the matter. In addition, the Biden administration likely will be more reserved in signaling official gestures between itself and Taipei to avoid stirring up direct confrontation in a geopolitical hotspot — “symbolism” downplayed.

Though Biden does not intend to normalize official U.S.-Taiwan relations, he has long shown a strong preference for both strategic ambiguity regarding Taiwan and maintaining the cross-strait status quo. This is reassuring for both the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Taiwanese people. After a sense in Taiwan that its fate was left undecided and unattended to, there is a prospect of restored stability — the triad will maneuver carefully around the demarcation set by the status quo.

The one thing Americans across the political spectrum have in common right now is unwavering support for a hardline policy against China. In all likelihood, the U.S. will continue to press hard against China on contentions of human rights abuses and unfair trade practices. No swift removal of sanctions is expected anytime soon, and technological decoupling (especially in the semiconductors industry) and tariffs will remain for the time being. At the current stage, the domestic political capital that Biden will lose if he undoes Trump-era China policies is too costly for the new administration.

Taiwan has become a major beneficiary during the U.S.-China decoupling process for two reasons. First, the U.S. has been encouraging a supply-chain transfer away from mainland China to Taiwan and other allies in the Indo-Pacific. Second, this is a good opportunity for Taiwan to shift its economic dependence on China elsewhere, mitigating risks of political uncertainty. Both trends are likely to continue.

Since the root of the conflict between the United States and China stems from shifting power dynamics and the closing power gap between them, tension and competition will not be resolved with Biden as president. However, due to the particularity of Trumpism, Biden will try to adjust his China policy in three important ways.

First, the strategic hawks will overwhelm the mercantilist economic hawks. The United States will place greater relative emphasis on strategic security; tariffs will not serve as the primary tool for dealing with China. The focus will be on reducing trade deficits, protecting intellectual property rights, opposing forced technology transfer, and opening up the market. Second, more support will be given to the United States’ traditional and strategic allies. Third, the United States will seek cooperation with mainland China on a number of issues (such as environmental protection, climate change, and even the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic). Even with these shifts, though, there will not be a “fresh start” or “reset” in U.S.-China relations because of broader dynamics in the Indo-Pacific.

Even with these shifts, though, there will not be a “fresh start” or “reset” in U.S.-China relations because of broader dynamics in the Indo-Pacific.


U.S.-China great power competition has also been, in part, the result of the shifting power dynamic between Taiwan’s traditional Kuomintang Party (KMT) to the young Kuomintang (representing the younger generation), which fostered an anti-CCP mentality. Traditional KMT voices position the party as the “strategic ally” to the United States and perceive the party as the legally constituted authority of China and a contender to the CCP. The young Kuomintang presents itself as a “democratic ally” to the United States for the sake of security, while at the same time engaging with mainland China under the “1992 Consensus, one China with different interpretations” as a buzzword for “risk aversion.” Further, KMT traditionalists’ ultimate goal is to reunify China under the Republic of China, whereas the younger generation treats reunification as one potential option but sees maintaining a peaceful status quo as the crown jewel. The younger generation of the KMT sees the door for reunification as unlikely but not fully closed. This policy stance creates a strategic ambiguity, attracting economic centrist voters who value stability, thus positioning the KMT to be less confrontational towards Beijing.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), on the other hand, prioritizes siding with the U.S., front-and-center, to fend off Chinese pressure. This leaves little room for risk aversion with Beijing. Therefore, the DPP matches U.S. policy every step of the way. During Trump’s administration, as U.S.-China relations drastically deteriorated, the CCP constantly placed Taiwan under great pressure. Beijing abandoned its earlier tolerance of “different interpretations” of the 1992 Consensus. This provided the DPP an opportunity to equate the 1992 Consensus with the “one country, two systems” formula that Beijing had previously applied to Hong Kong. As the ruling DPP adopts a more nationalistic position just short of de jure independence towards China, the party has won over the hearts and minds of the majority of Taiwan’s younger generation, who predominantly support Taiwan independence.

Traditionally, the social values of the KMT and DPP aligned closely with America’s Republicans and Democrats, respectively. But in recent years, the China issue has realigned the parties. With four years of Trump’s hardline rebuke of Beijing and the CCP, the current political environment starkly juxtaposes Beijing and Taipei. This has led the DPP to somewhat accept the Republicans’ position that Taiwan acts as an example for Chinese democracy, an old KMT position. Interestingly, both the pan-Blue camp (generally pro-KMT) and pan-Green camp (generally pro-DPP) in Taiwan, though concerned, also see the China threat as a political opportunity. The Green camp sees this as a chance to encourage the U.S. to support and incentivize its pro-independence cause. The Blue camp sees the situation as an opportunity to encourage other major powers to pivot away from China and upgrade its relations with Taiwan. Further, with Biden’s pragmatic, risk-averse, yet principled and firm China policy, it is likely that both major parties in Taiwan would adopt a more centrist position vis-à-vis China, or ideally act as propellants of China’s democratization.

Tension between the United States and China seemed to have come to a head under the Trump administration. Trump has made a return to the status quo impossible, but so far, Biden’s stance towards Beijing and his commitment to a values-based foreign policy is promising. Taiwan should follow suit and take a pragmatic approach, and avoid becoming what Graham Allision described as “a ticking time bomb that could lead to a tragic conflict [between the United States and China].” But in this context, Taiwan should reevaluate its grand strategy to closely align with the United States, which is a policy that has full support across the partisan spectrum in Taiwan. It is important to resist the chauvinistic desires and zealous nationalism in domestic politics on all sides of U.S.-Taiwan-China trilateral relations. The players should work to achieve a détente in economic areas that allow win-win-win situations, while maintaining credible deterrence in security arenas to demonstrate the wisdom of “agree to disagree” (求同存異).


U.S.-China relations are a two-way street, but China’s definition of cooperation means “do as I say,” and “win-win” means “China gets the upper hand.” If the CCP wants to repair relations with the United States and Taiwan, the first thing it should do is stop flexing its muscles in the Taiwan Strait. With the current situation in Hong Kong, Beijing should cease to promote the “one country, two systems” formula, or the Taiwan cause might be lost forever. Even though Xi Jinping and Joe Biden are not strangers, both China and the U.S. will need to walk a careful line.

Beijing also will need to adjust its expectations. During the presidential campaign, Biden vowed to be tough toward China. Now, he will need to follow through. Beijing cannot expect to see a return of “friendly Joe.”

At the same time, the United States needs to increase trade and military cooperation with Taiwan, further promote bilateral investment flows, and further integrate Taiwan into the international market economy. If the U.S. and China find a new framework to cooperate, Taiwan can be a U.S. rebalancing partner and the pivot for the Taipei-Washington-Beijing triangular relationship.

Taiwan should expect a weather but not atmosphere shift from Trump-era policies. As the Biden administration must prioritize its domestic policies over foreign affairs until the U.S. manages the COVID-19 pandemic, and is more “reserved in adopting high-profile gestures,” Taiwan should continue to work closely with Washington and keep a relatively lower profile than during the previous four years. Taiwan must readjust its pace with a new Biden administration in power and handle the Chinese pressure at the same time. This is the biggest challenge for the Taiwan government. Taiwan is accustomed to traveling on a tailwind. Now the island must withstand headwinds to manage risks while it strives to seize new opportunities.


US House of Representatives passes defense bill supportive of Taiwan
House passes National Defense Authorization Act 2021  
By Kelvin Chen, Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2020/12/09 11:00

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday (Dec. 8) passed the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which includes two provisions supporting Taiwan.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the 2021 NDAA Tuesday evening with 335 votes in favor of the bill and 78 votes against it. The Senate is expected to vote on it later this week. The bill must be passed by the Senate and sent to the White House for President Trump’s approval before it becomes law.

The parts of the bill related to Taiwan include a section calling for continued arms sales to the country, a “timely review and response” to Taiwan’s request for defense articles, and to expand the bilateral military partnership. The section also suggests increased medical security cooperation, including research and production of vaccines and joint conferences with scientists and experts.

The other section protects Taiwanese citizens from discrimination during employment decisions at international financial organizations.

In addition to supporting Taiwan, the bill also establishes the "Pacific Deterrence Initiative" to enhance America’s defense posture, assure allies and partners, and increase capability and readiness in the Indo-Pacific region.

However, before the House of Representatives convened in the morning, President Trump called on Republican representatives via Twitter to oppose NDAA 2021 and threatened that if the bill passed, he would veto it. The president said that the bill must include provisions that terminate section 230 of the Communications Correction Act, preserve America’s national monuments, allows 5G technology, and reduces troop numbers abroad.

House Chairman of the Armed Forces Committee Adam Smith stated that if Trump vetoed NDAA 2021, the House of Representatives would not rule out a meeting to overturn the president's veto.

DECEMBER 7, 2020


Taiwan says faces daily threat as U.S. notifies of new arms sale

By Ben Blanchard


TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan faces military threats on a daily basis from “authoritarian forces”, President Tsai Ing-wen said on Tuesday, as the United States announced a new $280 million arms sale package to the Chinese-claimed island, the sixth this year.

China expressed anger at the weapons sale, as it always does, threatening unspecified retaliation.

The outgoing Trump administration has ramped up support for the island democracy, with 11 arms sale packages in total, and on Monday the U.S. government notified Congress of the sale of a new Field Information Communications System.

Such sales - $5 billion worth this year - have riled China, adding to existing tension between Beijing and Washington, with China placing sanctions on U.S. companies involved and stepping up its military activities near Taiwan, including regular air force missions.

Addressing a security forum in Taipei, Tsai spoke of the threats in the region, including the “increasingly militarised” South China Sea, which China claims large parts of and where it has built artificial islands with air and naval facilities.

“Authoritarian forces consistently attempt to violate the existing norms-based order,” Tsai said. “Taiwan has been at the receiving end of such military threats on a daily basis.”


Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said the latest sale demonstrated that the U.S. commitment to bolstering the island’s defence capabilities remained unchanged and he expressed its gratitude.

“Taiwan and the United States will continue to consolidate their security partnership to maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” it added.

China’s Foreign Ministry denounced the arms package, urging the United States to stop selling weapons to Taiwan and saying Beijing would take “necessary countermeasures”, though it gave no details.



​US Marine Raiders Arrive in Taiwan to Train Taiwanese Marines

Marine special forces – both Taiwanese but also American – will play a crucial role in defeating a large-scale Chinese invasion of Taiwan.


By Abhijnan Rej

November 11, 2020

The Diplomat


Taiwan’s Naval Command has confirmed that a team from the Marine Raiders Regiment – the U.S. Marine Corps’ special operations forces – arrived in the country on November 9 to train the Taiwanese Marines, the first such official contact between the two since 1979 when the United States formally recognized the People’s Republic of China. Taiwan News, quoting the UDN, reported that during their month-long visit the Raiders will train the Taiwanese Marines “in assault boat and speedboat infiltration operations at the Tsoying Naval Base in Kaohsiung.”

Taiwanese special forces and the U.S. Army Green Berets hold annual joint exercises, the report also noted.

The very public move of Taiwan in welcoming U.S. marines comes amid growing international apprehension since the summer that China may be planning an invasion of Taiwan some point in the near future. Reports over the past few months have noted an increase in tempo of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) live-fire exercises near Taiwan in the Yellow Sea, the East China Sea, and South China Sea involving air defense missiles and anti-aircraft artillery. In response, the Trump administration in the United States has approved the sale of an array of weapon systems to Taipei, including ones that stretch the definition of “defensive arms” which is all that the U.S. is technically permitted to provide Taiwan following the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act. Obtaining weapons such as stand-off land attack missiles from the U.S. will allow Taiwan to strike China across the strait.

Taiwan’s defense strategy – the Overall Defense Concept (ODC) – is defensive by nature, and rests on exploiting asymmetrical advantages in face of a full-scale Chinese invasion. As the concept’s developer Admiral Lee Hsi-min (retd.) recently put it in a co-authored article in these pages, the ODC concept of operations imagines three pillars to Taiwan’s defense: force protection; decisive battle in the littoral zone; and destruction of the enemy at the landing beach.

As Brendan Taylor described a scenario of full-scale invasion of Taiwan in a 2018 book, the PLA will most likely start with first securing Taiwan’s many offshore islands so that the Taiwanese armed forces can’t use them to target Chinese bases and ports. In Taylor’s scenario, having secured them, the PLA will then move on to the main island and upon capturing docks and harbors, launch a tank battle as its moves inland. In this scenario, the Taiwanese marines would prove to be key for Taiwan’s defense, by forming the first line of effort in retaking offshore islands that may fallen into the hands of the PLA or even sabotaging Chinese facilities across the strait. Taiwan carried out anti-landing operations on one of its offshore islands in September.

Beyond this, if the Taiwanese marines manage to stage small-scale amphibious operations across the strait to infiltrate and neutralize attack key Chinese air defense facilities, Taiwan’s land attack missiles and air assets, manned and unmanned, will then come in play to enforce intra-conflict deterrence. One can imagine similar roles for the Taiwanese marines in disrupting PLA logistics and communications nodes.

Finally, of course there is the possibility of the U.S. Marine Raiders being deployed for similar cross-strait roles, especially in a scenario where the U.S. is hesitant to risk naval assets, including flattops, in face of China’s denial capabilities at the onset of the conflict. Whatever be the case, amphibious special forces have a major role in Taiwan’s asymmetrical defense strategy and allied support for it.

To end on a curious historical note: The Marine Raiders had played a key role in the Pacific campaign in World War II, and the Marine Special Operations Command’s appropriation of that moniker for all units under it in 2014 had been somewhat controversial. U.S. Marine Corps Major Evans Carlson — along with Colonel William “Wild Bill” Donovan, the chief of the Office of Strategic Services, the precursor to the Central Intelligence Agency – is seen as one of the fathers of the Raiders. Interestingly enough, Carlson some apparently espoused lessons he had learnt from his association with communist guerrillas Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai.




Abhijnan Rej

Top Taiwan policymaker seeks to reassure lawmakers of continued U.S. support after Biden win




Taiwan’s top China policymaker on Monday sought to reassure nervous lawmakers that Democrat Joe Biden will continue U.S. support for the Chinese-claimed island, which has benefited from strong backing by the outgoing administration of Donald Trump.

Tensions over democratic Taiwan have escalated dramatically since Trump took office four years ago.
China was infuriated first by Trump’s unprecedented call with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen shortly after he won the election, followed by increased U.S. arms sales and two visits to Taipei by top U.S. officials in recent months.

Taiwan’s top China policymaker on Monday sought to reassure nervous lawmakers that Democrat Joe Biden will continue U.S. support for the Chinese-claimed island, which has benefited from strong backing by the outgoing administration of Donald Trump.

Tensions over democratic Taiwan have escalated dramatically since Republican Trump took office four years ago. China was infuriated first by Trump’s unprecedented call with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen shortly after he won the election, followed by increased U.S. arms sales and two visits to Taipei by top U.S. officials in recent months.

While that made Trump a popular figure with the public in Taiwan, China responded by increasing military drills near Taiwan, including flying fighter jets over the sensitive midline of the Taiwan Strait, escalating fears of conflict.

In Taiwan’s parliament on Monday, several legislators expressed concerns about a Taiwan policy shift under a Biden administration, with some describing Biden as “China-friendly,” and others pointing to Biden’s opposition to a bill to strengthen Taiwan’s security in 1999.

Huang Shih-chieh, from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, said their main concern was whether U.S. support for Taiwan would change. “Our biggest worry is that with a Biden presidency he may adjust his policy,” Huang said.

But Chen Ming-tong, who heads Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, repeatedly reassured lawmakers a fundamental change in U.S. support for Taiwan was unlikely.

“There’s no need to worry about a change of ownership in the White House,” he said. “Although there might be some changes in Biden’s tactics towards China, there will be no change in its China strategy.”

Chen noted it was former President Barack Obama, under whom Biden served as vice president, who pushed the “pivot” back to Asia to challenge a rising China, and that Biden was unlikely to challenge the current geopolitical structure of the U.S.-China standoff.

The United States and Taiwan share the same values, Chen said. “Looking at (Biden’s) comments and support for Taiwan in the past, we can trust him to continue to reinforce the Taiwan-U.S. relationship.”

Chen said while Biden was “generally viewed as China-friendly” he had also made a lot of criticism about China. “Some people only see one side of the story and overlook another.”

Taiwan officials have long worried that Trump was just using the island as a pawn to put pressure on China.

So Biden being in the White House may not be a bad thing for Taiwan, said Lai Shyh-bao, a lawmaker for the main opposition party, the Kuomintang, which traditionally favors close ties with China.

“With a Biden administration, I think tensions in the Taiwan Strait will be lowered, because he will not think of Taiwan as a big chess piece, like Trump always did,” he said.


NOVEMBER 8, 20208:47 PM

Taiwan says not invited to WHO meeting after China's 'obstruction'

By Reuters Staff


TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan is yet to receive an invite to a key World Health Organization (WHO) meeting this week expected to focus on the COVID-19 pandemic due to “obstruction” from China, the island’s foreign ministry said, expressing its displeasure.

The U.S. mission in Geneva last week urged WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to invite Chinese-claimed but democratically ruled Taiwan to the WHO’s decision-making body, the World Health Assembly (WHA).

Late on Sunday, Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said the island had yet to get an invite to the virtual meeting of 194 member states.

“The Foreign Ministry expresses strong regret and dissatisfaction at China’s obstruction of Taiwan participating in the WHO and the WHO’s continuing to neglect the health and human rights of Taiwan’s 23.5 million people,” it added.

The WHO’s refusal to invite Taiwan based on political considerations makes a mockery of the body’s “health for all” claim, the ministry said.

Taiwan is locked out of most global organisations such as the WHO due to the objections of China, which considers the island one of its provinces with no right to the trappings of a sovereign state.

The WHO says it is up to member states whether to invite Taiwan, which has been praised internationally for quickly containing the coronavirus, to observe the WHA meeting.

Backed by the United States, Taiwan has stepped up lobbying this year to take part, angering China.

China’s mission to the United Nations in Geneva on Friday denounced the “distorted” U.S. remarks on Taiwan, saying the island can only take part if it admits to being part of China, something Taipei’s government has refused to do.

The WHO says it cooperates with Taiwan on various health matters including on aspects of the pandemic and that the island has been provided with the help it needs.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Lincoln Feast.

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

China Keeps Inching Closer to Taiwan

The United States needs to get serious about defending the island nation—here’s how.

 | OCTOBER 19, 2020, 4:50 PM

Since early September, China has been carrying out the most provocative and sustained show of force in the Taiwan Strait in nearly a quarter century. Chinese military patrols, some involving more than 30 combat aircraft and a half-dozen naval ships, have roamed the strait roughly every other day. Many of them have breached the median line between Taiwan and China, a boundary that—until last year—both sides had respected for decades.

With cross-strait tensions rising, a growing number of American policymakers and pundits, mostly on the political right and center, are calling on the United States to guarantee Taiwan’s security—a firm commitment that the United States has avoided making for more than four decades. These calls build on a series of bipartisan laws passed over the past two years that strengthen America’s moral and diplomatic support for Taiwan in the face of Chinese pressure. But can Taiwan actually be defended?

On paper, the task looks impossible. China’s military is 10 times as large as Taiwan’s and includes Asia’s biggest air force and the world’s largest army, conventional missile force, coast guard, and navy by number of ships. China’s long-range air-defense systems can shoot down aircraft over Taiwan, and China’s land-based missiles and combat aircraft could potentially wipe out Taiwan’s air force and navy and destroy U.S. bases in East Asia in a preemptive strike. China has built several times more naval ships than the United States since 2015, and it now outspends Taiwan 25-to-1 annually on defense. The cross-strait military balance is clearly shifting in China’s favor.

Yet Taiwan retains enduring advantages that could make the island virtually unconquerable—provided that Taipei and Washington capitalize on them. Armadas of the kind China would need to invade or blockade Taiwan are extremely vulnerable to modern missiles and mines. Meanwhile, the Taiwan Strait is perilous—typhoons and 20-foot waves are common most of the year—and Taiwan itself is a natural fortress. Its east coast consists of steep cliffs, and its west coast is dominated by mud flats that extend miles out to sea and are buffeted by severe tides. As a result, there are only a dozen beaches on Taiwan where an invading force could even land.
Taiwan’s defenders also have history on their side. No blockade in the past 200 years has coerced a country into surrendering its sovereignty, and there has been only one successful amphibious invasion of a developed nation in modern history (the Allied invasion of Italy in 1943). All other successful amphibious assaults were against overstretched forces defending hastily dug positions on foreign or contested territory with small arms. If China invaded Taiwan today, it would be attacking massed forces defending fortified positions on home soil with precision-guided munitions.

Given these advantages, a consensus has emerged among many defense experts about how Taiwan should defend itself—and what the United States needs to do to be ready to help. According to this consensus, Taiwan should devote its limited defense budget to acquiring huge arsenals of mobile missile launchers, armed drones, and mines; developing an army that can surge tens of thousands of troops to any beach in an hour backed by a million-strong reserve force trained to fight guerrilla-style in Taiwan’s cities and jungles; and maintaining shelters and massive stockpiles of fuel, medical supplies, food, and water for a population psychologically prepared to ride out a bloody conflict for months. Meanwhile, the United States should disperse and harden its base infrastructure in East Asia and pre-position networks of missile launchers and armed drones near Taiwan. These forces would act as high-tech minefields, capable of decimating a Chinese invasion or blockade force early in a war.

Both governments have already taken important steps to implement these recommendations. For example, Taiwan has pledged to increase defense spending by 10 percent next year and prioritize asymmetric capabilities; the United States has developed plans to string missile launchers and austere airfields along islands opposite China’s coast; and Taiwan and the United States are bringing online sophisticated drones, mines, and missiles.

It could take a decade to retool the Taiwanese and U.S. militaries to mount an effective defense of the island.
But these measures could end up being too little too late. The Taiwanese and U.S. militaries still consist predominantly of small numbers of advanced aircraft, ships, and tanks operating from large bases—precisely the kind of forces that China can now destroy with a surprise air and missile barrage. Given present trends, it could take a decade to retool the Taiwanese and U.S. militaries to mount an effective defense of the island. With China’s rapid military buildup, that may be time that Taiwan does not have.

The list of Taiwan’s military shortcomings is long. More than a quarter of Taiwan’s annual defense budget is earmarked for domestically made ships and submarines that will not be deployed for years, fighter aircraft that may not make it off the ground in a war, and tanks that cannot easily maneuver on beaches or in jungles or cities. As part of its ongoing transition to an all-volunteer military, Taiwan has cut its active-duty force from 275,000 to 175,000 troops and reduced the length of conscription from one year to four months. Recruits receive only a few weeks of basic training, and reservists are called up for just a few days every two years.
Taiwan also has gutted its logistics force and may employ only one civilian maintenance or management worker per 20 troops. By comparison, the U.S. military has one civilian worker supporting every two troops. Taiwan’s depleted logistics teams routinely fail to resupply combat units or perform basic maintenance. Consequently, soldiers avoid training with their weapons for fear of accidents or of wasting precious ammunition. Some estimates suggest that Taiwan’s pilots fly for less than 10 hours per month and that more than half of Taiwan’s tanks and attack helicopters are dysfunctional. Many Taiwanese soldiers lack basic tactical knowledge, have rarely practiced firing their weapons, and suffer low morale. Despite these manpower deficiencies, however, Taiwan’s spending on soldiers’ salaries and benefits has risen steadily and now consumes nearly half the defense budget.

​Taiwan led the world in closing down for Covid-19, now it wants to do the same with opening back up


By Paula Hancocks, CNN


Updated 12:33 AM ET, Tue September 22, 2020


Taipei, Taiwan (CNN)New arrivals to Taiwan might be forgiven for thinking they've stepped back in time.


On the streets of the island's capital, Taipei, pedestrians appear more concerned with staying out of the hot midday sun than maintaining any semblance of social distancing. Large lines stretch along the sidewalks, as people cram into popular lunchtime eateries. And in nearby parks, large groups of young people exercise and practice dance routines.

In fact, there are few if any visible signs that this is 2020 and the world is in the grip of a raging pandemic.

As the global number of confirmed Covid-19 cases surpasses 30 million, residents of Taipei seem relaxed in the knowledge there has been only one suspected case linked to local transmission in the city since mid-April.

And in Taiwan as a whole, an island with a population of approximately 23 million people, there have been around 500 confirmed cases and just 7 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

And that's despite it being located just 130 kilometers (81 miles) from China, the country where the virus was first detected.

The Secret of success

One of the main reasons for Taiwan's success in containing the virus is speed.

The island's leaders were quick to act as rumors spread online of an unidentified virus in the Chinese city of Wuhan and unconfirmed reports of patients having to isolate.

Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu told CNN the deadly outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003 had taught them a lot. "At the time Taiwan was hit very hard and then we started building up our capacity dealing with a pandemic like this," said Wu.

"So, when we heard that there were some secret pneumonia cases in China where patients were treated in isolation, we knew it was something similar."

Even before Beijing publicly acknowledged the gravity of the virus, Wu said Taiwan health officials began screening passengers arriving from Wuhan and additional early travel restrictions were put in place.

As much of the world waited for more information, Taiwan activated its Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), which coordinates different ministries in an emergency, and the military was brought in to boost mask and PPE production.

Those initial, early responses to the outbreak in China -- and the willingness to take action -- were critical in preventing the spread of the virus in Taiwan, potentially saving thousands of lives.

Direct flights from Wuhan, China were monitored from December 31, 2019 and all passengers underwent a health screen.

Taiwan's Center for Disease Control announced on January 20 it had sent two experts to Wuhan to try and "obtain more comprehensive information of the outbreak."

One day later, Taiwan confirmed its first reported case of the novel coronavirus. Wuhan residents were banned from entering and all passengers from China, Hong Kong and Macau were screened.

All this happened before Wuhan itself went into lockdown on January 23. And by March, Taiwan banned all foreign nations from entering the island, apart from diplomats, those with resident visas with special entry visas.

Dr. Jason Wang is the Director of the Center for Policy, Outcomes and Prevention at Stanford University, he said places like Taiwan "tend to act on the conservative side so, when it wasn't clear how it was spread, they said we're going to wear a mask anyway and they got it right."

Another key to success, according to Foreign Minister Wu and outside experts: be honest about the dangers.

Wu said they were giving "daily briefings, every day and sometimes twice a day to brief the population on what was going on in a very transparent way and the people just developed a trust to the government dealing with this matter."

This trust according to Wu, helped to ensure that masks were worn, hands were washed and quarantines respected.

'Life here is so surreal'

Taiwan's early response means everyday life on the island is now very different from a lot of places worldwide where leaders weren't quick to act.

Sil Chen moved to New York from her native Taiwan 16 years ago to set up a psychotherapy practice.

She thinks she caught the virus mid-March from a client who was coughing during a session. "At the time, people were not taking this very seriously," said Chen.

Back then, it was also hard to get a test in the US so she stayed in her apartment for five weeks to avoid spreading the virus. An antibody test two months later confirmed her infection.

Taiwan's success in fighting coronavirus has bolstered its global standing. This has infuriated Beijing.

"I think it was quite mild compared to the other people that I knew but I did cough for two months... and I did not get my smell back for a month," said Chen.

Chen came back to Taipei mid-July to visit her grandmother who has lung cancer. After a 14-day quarantine, she took her 99-year-old grandmother out and about. "We were dining in a restaurant," she said, "doing group yoga with people and I was like, wow, this is so surreal, it would not have been possible for me to bring my grandma to a public space like that anywhere else in the world almost."

From the science of closing to the science of re-opening

Dr. Wang and associates at Stanford have written about the success of the Taiwan model in slowing the virus, but he would like the island to go one step further.

"Taiwan has been really great at the science of closing... but what is the new science of re-opening that could be a good model for the world?" said Wang.

Looking at potential travel corridors or travel bubbles between countries that have handled the pandemic well, Wang suggested introducing a shorter quarantine period, made possible by successive negative tests.

Taiwan introduced a shorter quarantine period for business visitors in June from countries it considers low or medium risk. This requires visitors to undergo a pre-boarding test to prove they are negative within 72 hours of flying, then a test on day five of quarantine, after which they are permitted to leave isolation and self-monitor for the next two weeks.

"They are already doing what I am suggesting for business travelers, special visas, so what's the logic in not doing it for everybody?" he asked.

Wang said Taiwan's government is currently considering an international travel study with Stanford to test shorter quarantine periods with more frequent testing. He said travel corridors are a vital way of reviving economies around the world and wants to study travelers arriving in Taiwan to check the efficiency and practicalities of shorter quarantines.

As Wang pointed out, "at one point we still need to reopen the world and even with the vaccine, it's not 100% protected."

Taiwan’s COVID-19 Success Story Continues as Neighbors Fend Off New Outbreaks

Unlike countries like Vietnam and New Zealand, Taiwan has managed to keep its five-month streak of no local COVID-19 transmissions alive.

The Diplomat

Nick Aspinwall

By Nick Aspinwall

September 11, 2020

Taiwan has been cast along with other East Asian and Oceanian states as one of the world’s COVID-19 success stories. But as countries such as New Zealand and Vietnam have seen domestic outbreaks during the summer, Taiwan’s last five months and counting continue to be defined by one number: Zero, the number of local transmissions recorded since April 12.


On that day, Taiwan had confirmed a total of 388 cases. As of Friday, Taiwan had recorded a total of 498. Every positive COVID-19 case recorded since April 12 has been either imported – from a person traveling from abroad who tested positive during a mandatory 14-day quarantine – or from a cluster aboard a navy ship returning from a goodwill trip to Palau.


It’s a remarkable achievement for Taiwan, which recorded its first coronavirus case on January 21 and, that same month, was projected by experts to have the world’s second-worst outbreak after China.


Instead, life has remained normal. The country has never instituted lockdown measures and the vast majority of businesses remain open. The closure of borders to international travelers has led to a domestic tourism boom, with hotspots like Hualien, Taitung, and Kenting seeing overflows of Taiwanese visitors during the summer.


Most facemask and social distancing measures have been relaxed since the early months of the pandemic. Masks are still required on public transportation, and many Taiwanese still wear masks on crowded sidewalks or in enclosed areas like shopping malls.


Aside from this, life has continued as normal with only a few minor hiccups.


In late July and early August, a series of suspected domestic cases shook Taiwan after several outbound travelers tested positive for COVID-19 upon arriving in other Asian countries. However, most of the cases turned out to be false positives, and tests of people in Taiwan who had contacted these travelers did not turn up any domestic COVID-19 cases.


Still, this led to warnings from Chen Shih-chung, the popular health minister, for Taiwan to remain vigilant along with temporary shortages of facemasks, which are now sold by the box without the strict rationing in the winter and spring.


Chen did receive criticism last month over Taiwan’s relatively limited COVID-19 testing when an antibody testing program in central Changhua County was abruptly canceled the night before results were scheduled to be released.


The Changhua study ultimately found a low antibody count among the people tested, an unsurprising result indicating an extremely low likelihood of undetected COVID-19 transmission in the area.


Chen has argued that more testing would create more false positives and overload Taiwan’s health care system. Taiwan has not tested as much as neighbors such as South Korea – but it has also reported far fewer cases.


Taiwan’s government also received some criticism over its decision to allow a delegation led by U.S. Health and Human Services secretary Alex Azar to enter the country in August without undergoing a 14-day quarantine.


However, the entire delegation had tested negative before departing the U.S. and after arriving in Taipei, and the trip did not lead to any known transmission of the coronavirus.


A larger delegation from the Czech Republic arrived in Taiwan earlier this month, also without quarantining. That delegation also tested negative before and after their flight to Taiwan, and media coverage of the visit was overwhelmingly positive.


Despite its success in stamping out local transmission of COVID-19, Taiwan remains excluded from the World Health Organization. This remains unlikely to change as the United States – previously the highest-profile supporter of Taiwan’s bid to participate in WHO functions – has started the process of formally withdrawing from the WHO itself.


Aside from its isolation on the international stage, Taiwan has fended off escalated military aggression from China in recent weeks. Throughout it all, however, it has almost entirely fended off a pandemic that has impacted nearly every country in the world.

Taiwan to discuss strategic capability development with U.S.

09/07/2020 08:51 PM


Focus Taiwan


Taipei, Sept. 7 (CNA) Taiwan defense officials are scheduled to visit the United States next year to discuss closer cooperation in the development of strategic capabilities with the Pentagon, according to Taiwan's 2021 defense budget proposal.

Three defense officials will visit the Pentagon's Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO) in 2021 to discuss ideas to address potential future threats, according to the proposal, which was submitted to the Legislative Yuan last week.

SCO is an office under the U.S. Department of Defense, tasked with developing innovative ways to counter emerging threats across all domains, according to the Pentagon.

The visit was originally planned for 2020 but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, a plan by Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense (MND) to invite serving and retired military officers from U.S. Special Forces and Army Aviation units to assess Taiwan's military drills in 2020 was postponed for the same reason.

According to the proposal, the MND will continue to seek more interactions with its U.S. counterparts in 2021, including sending officers to Hawaii for dialogue with U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.

Other planned interactions with the U.S. include attending meetings and forums involving military map exchanges, battle tank management, missile technology, F-16 fighter jet upgrades, submarine building and operations, among others.

In addition, Taiwan's military plans to send delegations to countries in Europe, Southeast Asia, Latin America and Northeast Asia to promote military interactions.

Meanwhile, according to military sources, the U.S. military will not participate in this year's tabletop training component of the annual Han Kuang exercises (漢光演習), which test the capabilities of Taiwan's military to repel a potential invasion from China.

This is due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic, the sources said.

The computer-assisted tabletop training, one of the two major components of the Han Kuang exercises, is set to take place from Sept. 14-18.

The other major component is the live-fire drills, which concluded in July.

According to local media reports, the U.S. military had sent a delegation to observe the tabletop training, which aims to hone the decision-making skills of commanding officers, every year since 2003 .

(By Matt Yu and Emerson Lim)


Declassified cables reveal U.S. assurances on Taiwan's defense

Focus Taiwan


08/31/2020 10:52 PM

Taipei, Aug. 31 (CNA) Washington's release of two declassified cables from nearly 40 years ago on its security assurances to Taiwan reflect the United States' commitment to Taiwan at a time when it is under threat from China, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Monday.

The two cables from 1982, declassified on July 16, 2020, and posted on the American Institute in Taiwan's (AIT) website earlier Monday, focus on arms sales to Taiwan and the 'Six Assurances' made to Taiwan.

Though neither offer any specific revelations, they both represent pledges of U.S. support for Taiwan today and the desire to send a message to China amid regional tensions and questions over whether the U.S. would help Taipei if attacked by Beijing.

The cables demonstrate the U.S.' "strong commitment" to Taiwan's security "amid China's continued actions to destroy peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and in the region," MOFA said in a statement.

The ministry said the U.S. wanted to stop China from continuing to distort the 1982 Communique and remind it of its promise to resolve the Taiwan Strait issue peacefully by making public more details of how the U.S. dealt with both sides of the Taiwan Strait at the time.

The first declassified cable, titled "Taiwan Arms Sales," was sent from then-U.S. Under Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger to then-AIT Director James Lilley on July 10, 1982.

According to the AIT, the de facto U.S. embassy in Taiwan, it provides the American interpretation of the 1982 Communique between the U.S. and the People's Republic of China (PRC) as it relates to ongoing U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.

"The cable explains that the U.S. willingness to reduce its arms sales to Taiwan is conditioned upon the continued commitment of the PRC to a peaceful solution of the Taiwan-PRC differences," the AIT said in its summary of the lengthy cable.

"Further, if the PRC were to become belligerent or build up power projection capability that brought insecurity or instability to the area, then the United States would increase arms sales to Taiwan," the AIT said.

The directive indicates that the U.S.' chief concern was maintaining the balance of power across the Taiwan Strait, and thus, the quantity and quality of arms provided to Taiwan would be conditioned entirely on the threat posed by the PRC, according to the AIT.

The memo ends by offering "this final assurance: U.S. arms sales to Taiwan will continue," the AIT said.

Those same ideas were echoed in an internal presidential memo drafted by President Ronald Reagan on August 17, 1982, which serves as the guidelines for the U.S. interpretation of the 1982 Communique.

The second cable, titled "Assurances for Taiwan," was sent on Aug. 17, 1982 from then-U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz to Lilley, offering six assurances to Taiwan, publicly and privately reinforcing the above message, according to the AIT.

The Six Assurances, made by Reagan to Taiwan in 1982, have been a foundational element in U.S. policy toward Taiwan and the PRC, the AIT said.

They include U.S. pledges not to set a date for ending arms sales to Taiwan, not to consult with the PRC on arms sales to Taiwan, not to play a mediation role between Taipei and Beijing, not to revise the Taiwan Relations Act, not to alter its position regarding sovereignty over Taiwan, and not to exert pressure on Taiwan to enter into negotiations with the PRC.

(By Chen Yun-yu and Emerson Lim)

Taiwan, US announce joint 5G security declaration

Focus Taiwan

08/26/2020 09:06

Taipei, Aug. 26 (CNA) Taiwan and the United States are working closely to raise awareness globally about risks related to 5G networks and will continue to work with like-minded partners to develop 5G guidelines and best practices, according to a joint declaration on 5G security released by the two countries in Taipei Wednesday.

According to the declaration, both Taiwan and the U.S. recognize the Prague Proposals drafted in May 2019, which emphasize the need to develop, deploy, and commercialize 5G networks based on a foundation of free and fair competition, transparency, and the rule of law.

"We believe that all stakeholders have a shared responsibility to undertake a careful, balanced evaluation of 5G hardware and software suppliers and supply chains to promote a secure and resilient 5G architecture," the declaration said.

"Towards this end, the United States and Taiwan are working closely to help raise awareness globally about the risks to 5G networks through the Global Cooperation and Training Framework, and look forward to continuing to work with like-minded partners to develop appropriate 5G standards, guidelines, and best practices, "it added.

The declaration concluded by pointing out that it is "critical to transition from untrusted network hardware and software suppliers in existing networks to trusted ones through regular lifecycle replacements," without identifying whether one of the so-called untrusted suppliers is Chinese telecom giant Huawei.

"Such efforts will not only improve our respective security, but also provide opportunities for private sector innovators to succeed under free and fair competition and benefit our respective digital economies,"it concluded.

Speaking during a 5G policy forum where the declaration was made public, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said related authorities in Taiwan and the U.S. have been working closely over the past year to come up with an information security framework, and the declaration is expected to "institutionalize" future Taiwan-US collaboration in this area.

Wu said President Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) inaugural speech in May prioritized developing a cybersecurity industry that can integrate with 5G, digital transformation and an industrial chain that can protect the country, as one of the six core strategic industries in her second term.

The minister also noted that all five telecom service providers in Taiwan have now been listed as "Clean 5G" networks by the U.S., and Taiwan has confidence it will be a perfect partner for countries around the world in information security cooperation.

Meanwhile, American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director Brent Christensen, said in his address that the U.S. is proud to stand with Taiwan, "a truly reliable partner, to publicly proclaim our shared values and close cooperation on 5G Security."

He said the consequences of 5G deployment choices made now by governments and by telecom operators will be felt for years to come.

"Countries need to be able to trust the 5G equipment and software companies and know that they will not threaten their national security, privacy, intellectual property, or human rights,"he continued.

"Trust cannot exist where telecom vendors are subject to authoritative governments like the People's Republic of China, which lacks an independent judiciary or the rule of law, and whose limited privacy protections result in security vulnerabilities,"he pointed out.

The AIT official said the U.S. is happy to see Taiwan as a member of its 5G Clean Path Initiative.

"Taiwan and the U.S. are joined by other 'clean' partners with the aim of keeping technology systems clean and free of untrusted vendors to promote the security of nations by protecting the sensitive data of citizens and companies from authoritarian governments," he noted.

The joint declaration was made under the name of AIT and Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the U.S., which represent the country's respective interests in Taipei and Washington in the absence of official diplomatic ties.

(By Chen Yun-yu and Joseph Yeh)​

As U.S. and Taiwan Celebrate a Bond, China Responds With Screaming Jets

The highest-level American visit to Taiwan in decades shows the island’s importance as ties between the United States and China deteriorate.


New York Times

By Amy Qin

Published Aug. 9, 2020

Updated Aug. 10, 2020, 7:34 a.m. ET


TAIPEI, Taiwan — The United States’ top health official lauded Taiwan’s democracy and its response to the coronavirus. Taiwan’s president hailed the island’s growing economic and public health ties with the United States.


Yet just offstage from this show of bonhomie on Monday between Alex M. Azar II, the secretary of health and human services, and President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan was the looming force of China. Beijing claims Taiwan as its territory and underlined its opposition to official exchanges like Mr. Azar’s visit by sending two fighter jets toward the island just before the talks.


Mr. Azar’s trip, the highest-level visit to Taiwan by an American official since Washington severed official ties with the island in 1979, pointed to the increasingly important role Taiwan will play in a brewing ideological battle between the two superpowers. Taiwan and the United States have frequently framed their alliance as one based on “shared democratic values,” and China’s reaction was a reminder of the risks the island faces as it seeks a stronger relationship with Washington.


To Taiwan, the trip is a diplomatic coup and an opportunity to showcase its widely praised response to the virus, which it achieved despite efforts by China to diplomatically isolate the island. Ms. Tsai, in remarks welcoming Mr. Azar, said his visit showed that relations between the two sides “have never been better.”


To Beijing, the visit is considered yet another provocation from the United States at the most volatile time in the bilateral relationship in decades. The ruling Communist Party sees the interactions between Taiwan and Washington as a challenge to its sovereignty and in defiance of its threats to unify the island with the mainland by force.


To the Trump administration, Mr. Azar’s visit is a chance to take a jab at China, which has sought to spin the coronavirus crisis as a testament to the strength of its authoritarian system. It is a way for Washington to show that it backs Taiwan in the face of increasing efforts by China to keep the island off the international stage.


“It is a true honor to be here to convey a message of strong support and friendship from President Trump to Taiwan,” Mr. Azar said in remarks at the Taiwanese presidential office before heading into a meeting with Ms. Tsai. “Taiwan’s response to Covid-19 has been among the most successful in the world, and that is a tribute to the open, transparent, democratic nature of Taiwan’s society and culture.”


ImageCommuters in Taipei last month. Taiwan is hoping to use Mr. Azar’s visit to showcase its widely admired response to the coronavirus.

Commuters in Taipei last month. Taiwan is hoping to use Mr. Azar’s visit to showcase its widely admired response to the coronavirus.Credit...Chiang Ying-Ying/Associated Press

As of Monday, Taiwan, an island of 23 million off the southeastern coast of China, had reported just 480 coronavirus cases and seven deaths. Officials have promoted the island as a model of  democracy, in part by sending millions of masks labeled “Made in Taiwan” to countries in need.


“Over the last few months, Taiwan and the U.S. have worked together to confront the challenge posed by the Covid-19 pandemic,” Ms. Tsai said during the talks with Mr. Azar. The two officials wore blue surgical masks as they met.


“When the people of Taiwan saw footage of White House officials wearing ‘Made in Taiwan’ masks, they were happy that these products were helping people in partner countries,” she said.



To critics of the Trump administration, the timing and highly publicized nature of Mr. Azar’s visit reflect the government’s desire to distract from its own failed response to the virus. The United States passed a grim milestone over the weekend, with five million known cases — by far the most of any country — as well as more than 162,000 deaths from the coronavirus, according to a New York Times database.


Mr. Azar’s visit adds to concerns about a new Cold War between the United States and China. Tensions have surged between the two powers over geopolitics, human rights, trade and technology. In the past month, there have been fresh clashes over consulates, journalists’ visas and Chinese social networking apps.


Both countries have in recent months stepped up their military presence in the region, fueling worries about the growing risk of a confrontation, whether intended or not. On Monday, two Chinese fighter jets briefly crossed the median line in the strait separating mainland China and Taiwan. The jets were driven out by patrolling Taiwanese aircraft, Taiwan’s Air Force Command said in a statement released by the defense ministry.


U.S.-made attack helicopters during a military exercise in Taichung, Taiwan, last month. China has vowed to annex the self-ruled territory by force if necessary.

U.S.-made attack helicopters during a military exercise in Taichung, Taiwan, last month. China has vowed to annex the self-ruled territory by force if necessary.Credit...Ritchie B. Tongo/EPA, via Shutterstock

Beijing also lodged a formal complaint with Washington about Mr. Azar’s visit, vowing to take countermeasures as it warned the United States not to “gravely damage” relations. There are concerns that as the U.S. election approaches, the Trump administration — which has sought to rally opposition to China as Mr. Trump trails in the polls — could make an overture toward Taiwan that it can’t easily walk back.


“The Chinese side — the whole world — is speculating that Trump could make some even more severe adventures in his China policy to save his prospect of re-election,” including by breaching China’s “very serious bottom line over Taiwan,” said Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing.


China has long been a complicating factor in the United States’ relationship with Taiwan, now one of the most vibrant and prosperous democracies in East Asia.


Concerns about angering Beijing have meant that no sitting Taiwanese president has been allowed to visit Washington. Ties between the United States and Taiwan are managed through quasi-official institutions like the American Institute in Taiwan, which issues visas and provides other basic consular services. The last cabinet-level visit to Taiwan was a 2014 trip by Gina McCarthy, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency at the time.


“A lot of what the U.S. does with Taiwan has been so restricted based on Chinese reactions,” said Jessica Drun, a nonresident fellow at the Project 2049 Institute, a nongovernmental organization in Virginia that studies security and policy issues in Asia. “We have become oversensitized to China’s reactions, and they’re aware of this.”


There are doubts about Mr. Trump’s personal commitment to Taiwan. Recently, John R. Bolton, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, wrote in his memoir that the president had repeatedly disparaged the island’s significance, comparing Taiwan to the “tip of one of his Sharpies.”


Publicly, Mr. Trump and his administration have been far more supportive. In 2016, just before he took office, he broke with nearly four decades of diplomatic practice when he accepted a congratulatory phone call from Ms. Tsai. China largely dismissed the call, characterizing it as “a petty action by the Taiwan side.”


In 2018, Mr. Trump, over China’s objections, signed the Taiwan Travel Act, which encouraged high-level official visits between the two sides, paving the way for Mr. Azar’s visit. The United States remains the island’s top arms supplier, and the administration has approved additional weapons sales to Taiwan.


The U.S. Health and Human Services Department has not said whether Mr. Azar will visit an official memorial that has been set up in Taipei for Lee Teng-hui, the former Taiwanese president who led the island’s peaceful democratization. In his remarks, Mr. Azar called Mr. Lee, who died last month, the “father of Taiwan’s democracy and one of the great leaders of the 20th century’s movement toward democracy.”


As the United States and China dig into a protracted battle, some in Taiwan are concerned that the island’s interests could get lost in the mix.


Chan Chang-chuan, a professor of public health at National Taiwan University, said that one area in which Americans could help Taiwan was in coronavirus-related vaccines and therapeutics. The United States and China are among the countries leading the race to develop a vaccine.


“I do have a very strong wish that Secretary Azar can listen to what we really need,” Mr. Chan said. “If we get nothing and China has a vaccine, then it would be like if we didn’t have good weapons to defend our security. It’s strategic.”


Bella Huang contributed research.

Lee Teng-hui, former president of Taiwan, dies at 97

Los Angeles Times


JULY 30, 2020

6:30 AM


TAIPEI, Taiwan  — 


Lee Teng-hui, the first Taiwan-born president of this island state whose prickly relationship with China and unbending passion for self-rule set the tone for every leader who followed, has died at a hospital in Taipei. He was 97.

Active until late in life, Lee died about 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Taipei Veterans General Hospital of septic shock and multiple organ failure, the hospital said. He had been in its care since February with pneumonia, but his health quickly worsened over the past week, and current President Tsai Ing-wen visited Lee in the hospital Wednesday.

“It’s very sad President Lee Teng-hui has passed away,” Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said in an e-mailed statement Thursday evening. “The world will remember him as Mr. Democracy, the architect of Taiwan’s modern liberal democratic system, which allows the country to stand tall on the global stage.”

Few political figures in Taiwan have cast as long a shadow as Lee. He oversaw the end of martial law, loudly rejected Beijing’s pursuit of unifying China and Taiwan, and led an ambitious foreign policy aimed at winning allies around the world. For years, China fumed at his provocations.

President for 12 years beginning in 1988, Lee stepped onto the world stage in 1996 when he suggested Taiwan adopt a “special state-to-state relationship” with China — the antithesis of Beijing’s prized unification goal. In response, China flexed its muscles by testing missiles off Taiwan’s coastline, letting that dramatic display signal its feelings about Lee’s pursuit of democracy.

Lee’s idea for an autonomous Taiwan took root when he was growing up during Japan’s oppressive colonial rule of his homeland, said Anna Chou, a departmental director with the Taiwan Solidarity Union political party, which considers the former president its “spiritual leader,” though he was neither a member nor a founder of the group.

Under Tokyo’s rule from 1895 through the end of World War II, Taiwanese were barred from advancing upward in government to the level of their colonizers. Local militias and other small bands of Taiwanese revolted but lacked the resources to overthrow the Japanese.

The Nationalist Party, or KMT, which had ruled all of China before being overpowered by communist revolutionary Mao Zedong’s troops, regrouped in Taiwan in the 1940s and kept the island under martial law until Lee took office. Subsequent presidents in Taiwan have followed Lee’s lead on self-rule, particularly Tsai, who routinely flouts China’s advances.

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KMT elders came to resent Lee for pushing back against their goal of unifying with China and blamed him for their losses in the 2000 presidential election. Opposition politicians had also sought his support and sometimes received it.

Lee was born Jan. 15, 1923, in Sanchih, a farming town about an hour north of Taipei. He took an interest in Japan, Taiwan’s colonizer then, as his father worked in the Japanese-run police force. Lee studied Japanese martial arts in school and eventually became a second lieutenant in the Japanese imperial army in charge of an anti-aircraft unit in Taiwan. In high school, he won a scholarship to Kyoto Imperial University, where he graduated in 1946.

Lee initially joined the KMT’s political operations in the 1970s as minister of agriculture. The party eventually named him chairman and then vice president and finally, in 1988, president.

As president he eventually rejected KMT authoritarian rule and its goal of unifying with China. The party threw him out after 2000, when its nominee lost the presidential race to the relatively new Democratic Progressive Party.

“Lee worked within this system to get to the top, but eventually turned his back … supporting some democratic reforms and emphasizing Taiwan’s worthiness for individual statehood,” said Denny Roy, senior fellow at the East-West Center research institution in Honolulu. “His description of Taiwan and China having a ‘special state-to-state relationship’ is as good as any bumper-sticker principle anyone has offered to capture Taiwan’s point of view.”

The Democratic Progressive Party, which is in power today, advocates a guarded, distant relationship with China. Beijing still insists on eventual unification, by force if necessary.

The current president’s predecessor, Ma Ying-jeou, a member of the KMT, opened a dialogue with China but vowed not to unite with the country during his eight-year term.

Ma’s predecessor, Chen Shui-bian, talked about declaring legal independence from China — the ultimate consecration of self-rule – throughout his own eight-year term. His words inflamed Beijing and rattled the United States, which at the time advocated a stable China-Taiwan relationship.

Lee typically saw Washington as an ally in resisting China’s aggressions. In 1995, he became Taiwan’s first president to visit the United States, where he spoke at an alumni reunion at Cornell University, where he had earned his PhD.

He appealed to the United States by accelerating Taiwan’s democratization by meeting with pro-democracy protesters in 1990 and later by forcing parliamentary elections that gave seats to more native Taiwanese instead of KMT backers from China.

“As the first president to visit the U.S., Lee opened a new chapter in U.S.-Taiwan relations,” said Yun Sun, East Asia Program senior associate at the Stimson Center think tank in Washington. “Chen and Tsai inherited some of his thoughts but have taken Taiwan’s independent identity further.”

His appearance at Cornell is what inspired former U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry to speak out against China’s perceived interference in the Taiwan 1996 presidential race, said Parris Chang, a Taiwanese professor emeritus of political science at Pennsylvania State University.

Lee also reestablished diplomatic relations with several countries that had abandoned it in favor of China. After leaving office, he kept China on edge with visits to Japan, which he respected culturally even if not as a colonizer. On a particularly splashy trip in 2015, he visited the Japanese parliament.

All three of his successors in Taiwan have sought closer political, military and economic ties with the United States and Japan. Tsai and Chen vied with China for diplomatic recognition from small, impoverished nations in Africa, the Americas and the South Pacific. Those countries speak for Taiwan in the United Nations, while Washington sails warships near Taiwan as a warning to China.

Lee’s most common nickname among Taiwanese remained “Mr. Democracy” throughout his life.

“The general public in Taiwan has a very high regard for President Lee,” ruling party lawmaker Lo Chi-cheng said. Lee, he said, “played an important role in the process” of reversing authoritarian rule.

Lee is survived by his wife, Tseng Wen-hui; two daughters, Anna and Annie; and several grandchildren. His son, Lee Hsien-wen, died of cancer in 1982.

Jennings is a Times correspondent.


​No room for failure: new envoy to US

Taipei Times

Tue, Jul 21, 2020

USA CAUCUS: After being sworn in, Hsiao Bi-khim attended an inauguration for the legislative caucus, thanking lawmakers for their support in improving ties with the US

By Shelley Shan / Staff reporter

A failure in Taiwan-US relations cannot be tolerated, new Representative to the US Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) said yesterday, adding that her work as the nation’s de facto ambassador to the US has the staunch backing of the Legislative Yuan USA Caucus (台美國會關係聯誼會).


Hsiao, who takes over the position from Stanley Kao (高碩泰), made the remarks at an inauguration ceremony for the 10th legislative session’s USA Caucus after being sworn in at the Presidential Office earlier in the day.


Hsiao, who was the caucus’ chairperson during the ninth legislative session, said that her experience as a lawmaker has prepared her for the immense responsibility she is undertaking, thanking her colleagues for supporting her work to improve Taiwan-US relations.


Parliamentary diplomacy has been an important part of Taiwan-US ties, she said, adding that the US Congress has many members who are strong supporters of Taiwan.


Bilateral exchanges between the two countries have become more important at a time when both are facing rapid changes in the international community, she said.


Although the COVID-19 pandemic has created obstacles for lawmakers from the two sides to interact in person, Hsiao said that they can use videoconferencing to communicate with one another and organize exchange trips once the pandemic eases.


The difference between being a legislator and an ambassador is that the former is a matter of personal success or failure, but failure on a diplomat’s part regarding Taiwan-US relations could not be tolerated, she said.


Support from the lawmakers would help her handle the pressure that comes with her ambassadorial duties, she added.


Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政), who serves on the legislature’s Foreign and National Defense Committee, was chosen as caucus chairman.


He said that 71 legislators across party lines had joined the caucus as of Sunday night, making it the largest legislative caucus.


Hsiao is the nation’s first female representative to the US and its first legislator-turned-ambassador, and her appointment shows that President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) recognizes the caucus’ contributions to the improvement of Taiwan-US relations, Lo said.


The caucus has temporarily suspended plans for an annual visit to the US due to the pandemic and the US presidential elections in November, he said.


“Should the pandemic ease next year, and after the US presidential election ends, the caucus can organize a trip to the US, whether it be to attend the inauguration of the new US president or visit congressional members,” he added.


Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Charles Chen (陳以信), one of the caucus’ three vice chairs, said Hsiao would be facing great challenges in her new position.


DPP Legislator Liu Shyh-fang (劉世芳) and Taiwan People’s Party Legislator Chiu Chen-yuan (邱臣遠) are the two other cochairs.


“I am happy to see that a stronger link has been established between Taiwan and the US in terms of security and politics in the past few years, but I hope that the collaboration could be extended into economic issues, including resuming negotiations over a trade and investment framework agreement and a free-trade agreement between the two countries. These are now on Hsiao’s shoulders,” Chen said.


American Institute in Taiwan Director Brent Christensen, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Hsu Szu-chien (徐斯儉) and American Chamber of Commerce Taipei chairman William Foreman also attended the inauguration ceremony.


The US’ Taiwan Relations Act was passed 41 years ago on a bipartisan basis by the US Senate and the US House of Representatives, Christensen said, adding that the act has been further supplemented by the Taiwan Travel Act and the Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative Act in the past two years.


“Together, these laws — even beyond their practical effects — are a potent symbol of the deep reservoir of support for Taiwan in the US Congress, and more broadly, among the American people they represent,” he added.


Christensen said that the Legislative Yuan USA Caucus embodies the goodwill of Taiwanese from all walks of life toward the US, which he has personally experienced over the decades.


The shared values between the US and Taiwan — a free and open democratic society, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, a common commitment to the value of diversity and competition, and a desire to contribute to global problem-solving — have acted as a guiding light for the bilateral relationship, enabling both countries to collaborate on various initiatives, he said.


The US-Taiwan partnership against the pandemic — from vaccine development, medical supply chains to expert exchanges — exemplifies the spirit of “real friends, real progress,” often used to describe the US-Taiwan relationship, Christensen said.


“This caucus can and will find new and creative ways, working together with your counterparts in the US Congress and across all segments of Taiwan society, to bring our relationship to new heights,” he said.

The Significance of Taiwan’s Representative Office on the Small Island of Guam

By: Shirley Kan

July 15, 2020

Shirley Kan is an independent specialist in Asian security affairs whose service for the US government has included working for Congress at the Congressional Research Service (CRS). She is a founding member of GTI’s Advisory Board.

Taiwan is re-establishing a representative office in the US territory of Guam, but this seemingly sudden reversal is spurring speculation of a military motive. More significantly, Taiwan’s small step epitomizes a strategic approach. This step is not controversial for US policy. Stepping in sync with the United States and other democratic countries, Taiwan is preserving its presence and promoting partnerships in a free and open Indo-Pacific. Taipei is stepping up in the global strategic competition against the threats of the Communist Party of China (CPC). [1] As the US National Security Advisor warns, the CPC’s comprehensive challenges cover control over thought even outside of China. Nonetheless, Taiwan’s move to open again that office (like a consulate) raises issues about how to enhance bilateral military ties.

Preserving Presence and Promoting Partnerships

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) have decided to re-open the Republic of China (Taiwan)’s representative office in Guam. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) closed the office in August 2017 under the previous minister (David Lee, 李大維). In its announcement (in English and Chinese) on July 3 of this year, MOFA stated that the office “will facilitate economic and trade cooperation and exchanges between Taiwan and the greater western Pacific region, deepen Taiwan’s relations with its Pacific allies, and increase multilateral exchanges.” MOFA also cited the promotion of Taiwanese investments in Guam, tourism between Guam and Taiwan, medical cooperation, and consular assistance for Taiwanese in Guam. (Taiwan sent about 20,000 visitors a year, the third largest group of foreign tourists.) Moreover, in 2017 and 2018, Guam’s Governor Eddie Calvo visitedTaipei and urged Tsai to restore the office.

Significantly, MOFA referred to “strategic shifts” in the Pacific for re-opening the office.

However, the Trump administration set forth the US strategy for the free and open Indo-Pacific in November 2017. Guam’s strategic significance also is not new. The US military long has valued Guam as the western-most US territory and strategic site for forward deployments in the western Pacific. Guam has two important military bases: Naval Base Guam and Andersen Air Force Base. Since 2000, the US military has engaged in a moderate buildup of forces on Guam. With concerns about North Korea and China, the defense buildup has supported US deterrence and potential assistance to allies and partners. In 2012, the Obama Administration issued a Defense Strategic Guidance for the strategic “rebalance” of priorities to the Asia-Pacific, which further raised Guam’s importance as a “strategic hub.” [2]

Furthermore, strong ties between Guam and Taiwan have a long record, including under the many years of attention by Guam’s Delegate to Congress, Madeleine Bordallo.

In short, Taiwan is restoring the office to regain its previous presence and promote partnerships. The timing is not related to any new strategic significance of Guam or military-to-military (mil-to-mil) ties on Guam, despite speculation of a military motive.

After the small office closed, there were diplomatic developments. The ROC (Taiwan)’s embassy in Palau had to take over the duties in Guam as well as the nearby Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). In November 2017, President Tsai enjoyed US stop-overs in Hawaii and later Guam on her way to and from visits to Tuvalu, the Solomon Islands, and the Marshall Islands. She promised Taiwanese business leaders in Guam to reconsider the closing. Also, Tsai has been very concerned about consolidating Taiwan’s ties to countries in the Pacific, as the People’s Republic of China (PRC) coerced or compelled countries to switch diplomatic recognitions from the ROC to the PRC. In 2019, the Solomon Islands and Kiribati switchedrecognitions, despite an intense US campaign led by the National Security Council to sustain stability.

TECO’s Function as a Consulate

The US-Taiwan partnership is non-diplomatic—yet not “unofficial”—under the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), P.L. 96-8. Thus, the office will be called a Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO), although it will function like a consulate. After this TECO re-opens, Taiwan will have 13 US offices in Washington, New York, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Seattle, Houston, Chicago, Honolulu, Denver, Miami, and Guam.

Along with Taiwan’s de facto embassy called the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) in Washington, the TECOs in other US cities serve functions for official as well as grassroots engagement. Similarly, the United States set up the American Institute in Taiwan in Taipei (AIT/Taipei) to continue operations after the embassy closed. Later, an AIT Branch opened in a southern city as AIT/Kaohsiung, functioning as the de facto consulate under AIT/Taipei whose director acts as a Chief of Mission. However, different from the US State Department’s practice, TECOs operate more under MOFA’s direct authority than under TECRO’s direction. Indeed, some directors of TECOs already have served as ambassadors at ROC embassies.

Strategic Significance

Aligned with Washington, Taipei preserves its presence in the Pacific to play a part in strategic competition against the CPC regime. Its comprehensive challenges cover diplomatic, information, military, economic, and legal threats.

In May, the White House issued the US strategy to deal with the PRC. The document declared that “the United States is working in concert with mutually aligned visions and approaches such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nation’s Outlook on the Indo-Pacific, Japan’s free and open Indo-Pacific vision, India’s Security and Growth for All in the Region policy, Australia’s Indo-Pacific concept, the Republic of Korea’s New Southern Policy, and Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy.”

Then, in June, National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien warned that the CPC’s challenges involve ideology and ideas. The CPC schemes to control thought even outside of the PRC.

Earlier this month, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper reiterated that the National Defense Strategy recognizes great power competition and focuses on China as the pacing threat. Esper emphasized efforts to strengthen allies and build partners.

Thus, the TECO in Guam (like Taiwan’s other offices around the world) could counter the CPC’s disinformation and convey strategic communication. The office could contribute in unilateral, bilateral, or multilateral ways for economic and security interests.

Issues in Mil-to-Mil Engagement

Still, the seemingly sudden reversal of the office’s closing is spurring spurious speculation that the timing is due to new mil-to-mil engagement in Guam. Such speculation entails even an assumption about military officers at TECOs in Guam and Honolulu working closely together, although that would actually be impractical. On July 9, MOFA disputed the speculation, noting that “military cooperation is not one of our country’s considerations” to re-open the TECO in August or September.

Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) does not have military training in Guam. MND has not assigned any past or future military liaison officers (functioning as military attaches) to the TECO in Guam. Taiwan’s offices in the United States with military liaison officers are in Honolulu, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington. High-level and extensive visits justify the assignments at those offices, but not in Guam.

Nonetheless, there are issues. Should restoring TECO in Guam involve implications about defense? How should Taiwan decide in debating about whether to post military attachés to that office? Given incremental improvements in bilateral ties under the Trump Administration, officials and observers often opine that mil-to-mil engagement should expand. In the past, Taiwan asked to sail naval ships and fly military aircraft (such as C-130 planes) to Guam for training missions. Moreover, some in Congress (such as Representative Mike Gallagher, who introduced the Taiwan Defense Act in the House on July 1) argue for clarity rather than ambiguity in US support for Taiwan’s defense. US training with Taiwan’s military could expand to Guam. Singapore, whose F-16 pilots train with Taiwan’s F-16 pilots at Arizona’s Luke Air Force Base, signed an agreement in December 2019 for training of fighter pilots in Guam. [3]

However, Taiwan’s F-16 fighter pilots will still be able to train in Arizona. Also, MND is shifting to asymmetric warfare under the Overall Defense Concept, as the Pentagon urges its implementation. Furthermore, Taiwan does not need an expeditionary force in defense of its homeland. The Pentagon also prefers more efficacy than symbolism in US support for Taiwan’s deterrence, readiness, and survivability, as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Heino Klinck noted at a GTI event in May. Of critical concern, Taiwan has a limited defense budget (USD $11.4 billion in 2020), accounting for only 1.9 percent of GDP. According to remarks in June by Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs David Helvey, the United States expects allies and partners to invest appropriately in their own defense.

Significantly, the more urgent and realistic issue is whether to allow Taiwan at the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) multinational maritime exercise this August centering at Hawaii. The US Navy has not invited Taiwan to send participants. Nevertheless, RIMPAC 2020 should include military observers from Taiwan, especially since the Trump Administration ended invitations to the PRC’s navy. [4]

The main point:  Taiwan’s re-opening of a small office in Guam still epitomizes a strategic step, even if not involving military cooperation. More immediately, military observers from Taiwan should be welcomed at the upcoming RIMPAC.

[1] This author precisely translates “中国共产党” as the “Communist Party of China (CPC)” (which the CPC also officially uses) and avoids ambiguous association of the CPC with “Chinese” culture or people.
[2] Shirley Kan, “Guam: U.S. Defense Deployments,” CRS Report, updated January 5, 2015.
[3] Shirley Kan, “Taiwan: Major U.S. Arms Sales Since 1990,” CRS Report, updated January 5, 2015.
[4] Shirley Kan, “Rescind China’s Invitation to Join RIMPAC,” PacNet #35, April 15, 2016.

Link to article with embedded citations:
Shirley Kan
Independent Specialist in Asian Security Affairs who worked for Congress at CRS
Founding Member of GTI’s Advisory Board
See analyses at: https://shirleykannet.wordpress.com

​The US has a lot to learn from Taiwan's Covid fight


Updated 2:43 PM ET, Fri July 10, 2020

Lanhee J. Chen, Ph.D., is the David and Diane Steffy Fellow in American Public Policy Studies at the Hoover Institution. He has also spoken at events convened by The Project on Taiwan in the Indo-Pacific at the Hoover Institution, which is supported by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office. Chen is an affiliated faculty member of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University. The views expressed in this commentary belong to the author. View more opinions at CNN.

(CNN)Public health professionals around the world have lauded Taiwan's response to the coronavirus pandemic. Along with nearby countries such as South Korea and Singapore, Taiwan has employed policy responses to Covid-19 that are worthy of emulation around the world. Taiwan, in particular, effectively contained Covid-19 by springing to action early, coordinating a government-wide response to the virus, and clearly communicating with its citizenry.

A society of about 24 million people, Taiwan has had only 449 confirmed cases of Covid-19 -- and seven deaths. These numbers are remarkable given that Taiwan is less than 100 miles off the coast of mainland China, where the outbreak initially began. The two sides maintain strong commercial and cultural ties, though relations have grown frosty since the election of Taiwan's current president in 2016.

Taiwan has exported both its expertise and its medical supplies around the world. For world leaders looking to emulate Taiwan's strategy, four factors are key to understanding why it has been successful in the fight against Covid-19.

First, the geopolitical fight between Taiwan and the mainland, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), which considers the self-governing island a part of its territory, has fueled Taiwanese skepticism of Beijing's claims. Thus, when news of a novel coronavirus in Wuhan initially broke in December 2019, Taiwan did not rely on official Chinese pronouncements that the virus could be controlled and that it could not be transmitted between humans. Instead, it immediately started screening passengers on inbound flights from Wuhan, and moved quickly to identify and isolate any travelers who exhibited symptoms of Covid-19.

Second, Taiwan has had significant experience dealing with respiratory disease outbreaks and learned the lessons in pandemic preparedness and response from them. In particular, it was hit hard by the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003 and responded effectively to the H1N1 flu in 2009. Because of Taiwan's experience, authorities there understood the importance of responding to the disease quickly, ensuring the availability of personal protective equipment like masks and putting in place protocols to identify cases of the virus and prevent community spread.

Third, after SARS, Taiwan created the National Health Command Center (NHCC), an entity tasked with coordinating the government's response to health crises. In its response to Covid-19, Taiwanese authorities emphasized transparency and strong coordination and activated an office within the NHCC, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), to gather and regularly disseminate information about the virus and its effects so that all Taiwanese residents would be kept well-informed. The central government also encouraged a society-wide response to the virus, with the private and public sectors working together to address health crises.

Finally, Taiwan moved quickly and efficiently to deploy appropriate countermeasures against Covid-19. In the absence of a vaccine or effective therapeutics, this meant quickly isolating cases, as well as conducting thorough contact tracing and widespread testing of the population once those diagnostics became available.

Taiwanese authorities also encouraged the universal use of face masks. To make sure people had access to masks, the government ramped up production and controlled their distribution, particularly during the early phase of the crisis, by instituting a strict rationing system. It also enforced social distancing measures to help slow the spread of the virus and established travel restrictions -- initially from hotspots like the PRC, South Korea, and Italy, but eventually to all inbound foreigners.

Due to its strong response, according to the government's health data, the majority of Covid-19 cases in Taiwan have been imported and not the result of community transmission. While international travel restrictions largely remain in place, Taiwan did not have to impose harsh lockdowns in response to the virus, as many other countries (and jurisdictions within the US) have had to do.

Although Taiwan's efforts to fight Covid-19 have been successful, China continues to restrict its ability to participate in the World Health Organization, the UN-affiliated entity tasked with responding to international health crises. WHO has come under fire from the United States and other countries for its failure to include Taiwan, particularly given its ability to effectively fight coronavirus.

On July 7, President Donald Trump formally initiated America's withdrawal from WHO, citing its failure to deal effectively with the pandemic and its overly cozy relationship with the Chinese government. WHO has been accused of simply parroting some of Beijing's statements about Covid-19, such as its now debunked claim in mid-January that the virus could not be spread by human-to-human transmission. This assertion, in particular, was the source of controversy because of an email from a Taiwanese official to WHO on December 31, inquiring about the presence of "atypical pneumonias" in patients that were being "isolated for treatment" in Wuhan.

Taiwan has argued that this email sounded an early alarm about possible human-to-human transmission. But WHO did not follow-up on Taiwan's inquiry, claiming that its December 31 email did not explicitly mention this form of viral transmission and that, in any case, it was already looking into the Wuhan outbreak.

Despite Taiwan's absence from WHO, its Covid-19 strategy can be replicated here in the United States. Its efforts to identify each case quickly, coupled with contact tracing and isolation of those potentially exposed to the virus, are keys to our ongoing efforts to reopen communities across America. So too are attempts to encourage social distancing in group contexts, as well as masking where that distancing is not possible.

Finally, the Taiwanese government's emphasis on transparency, as well as constant communication with the public regarding the virus and steps that should be taken to curtail its spread, are worthy of emulation.

Not all of Taiwan's policies can be replicated here in the US. But policymakers here should be willing to learn from Taiwan's success -- and advance those policies -- in our continuing fight against the deadly virus.

​​To send a message to China, President Trump should visit Taiwan

Hong Kong's new China-mandated 'national security' law is a threat to democratic values. The United States should have a strong response.

Marion Smith - Opinion contributor

July 5, 2020

USA Today

Communist China has officially taken over Hong Kong. The passage on Tuesday of Beijing’s so-called “national security law” effectively absorbs the formerly autonomous city in the totalitarian system of the Chinese mainland, threatening its freedoms with extinction. Everyone is now looking to the United States — the leader of the free world — for a strong and principled response.


The White House has already restricted some trade with Hong Kong and announced travel resurrections on some Communist officials, while Congress is moving forward with an unprecedented sanctions bill. All these actions are useful, but they’re not nearly enough. Communist China’s unprecedented repression deserves an unprecedented response.


That’s why President Trump should travel to Taiwan.


Show China that the U.S. is serious about its values

No American President has visited Taiwan since 1960. Why? Because U.S. officials have long wanted to maintain good relations with Beijing, which claims sovereignty over the island and its nearly 24 million free citizens. Yet given China’s aggression, the most important consideration for U.S. policy shouldn’t be keeping Beijing happy. The goal should be to show Beijing that America is serious about advancing its interests and upholding its values.


America’s national interests here are clear.


The subjugation of Hong Kong shows that China is ready to fulfill its dreams of domination, America and its allies be damned. Taiwan is at or near the top of the list of Beijing’s next targets, and as a vital U.S. partner, it is on the frontlines of containing Chinese expansionism. It makes sense for the leader of the free world to show support for Taiwan — and reassure the world of America’s commitment to the region — in such a dangerous time.


The stakes for freedom are even more clear.


Until this past month, Hong Kong and Taiwan were both beacons of liberty and democracy, illuminating the communist tyranny on the Chinese mainland. That light is now being extinguished in Hong Kong. Taiwan now stands alone, and China’s communist regime wants to snuff it out, too. They fear the example of free Chinese people more than anything in the world. That’s precisely why President Trump should elevate Taiwan’s example of democracy and liberty.



For President Trump, traveling to Taiwan would fit within his administration’s policies and principles. He has been a strong advocate for closer U.S.-Taiwan ties. Last year, he signed a law to strengthen diplomatic relationships with Taiwan, which the U.S. does not officially recognize, and approved more than $2 billion in arms sales to Taiwan, with the most recent deal in mid-May.


Perhaps most importantly, the president has already shown a willingness to abandon the diplomatic niceties meant to placate Beijing — see his phone call with Taiwan’s president in December 2016. For someone who’s so willing to break the mold and push the boundaries, a Taiwan visit is a logical next step, not an unthinkable leap.


If Trump can't visit, send Pence

Previous administrations have only sent Cabinet-level officials to Taiwan. If the president won’t go, he could send Vice President Pence, who has taken three lengthy trips to the Indo-Pacific and been a consistent critic of the Chinese Communist Party.


Either way, a visit would reassure Taiwan of U.S. support when it’s most needed and wanted. The Chinese military recently held drills simulating the capture of Taiwanese territory. Communist officials and military officers have also threatened war with Taiwan in recent weeks. So a visit by the Commander-in-Chief would also send a message of unmistakable strength and resolve. It would reaffirm that the United States has no intention of being pushed from the region, which Beijing desperately wants. America’s allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific would take note and take heart.


There has never been a better time for a presidential visit. For that matter, Taiwan has never been more important to American interests. Taiwan is everything that Communist China is not — a responsible global partner, a flourishing democracy, and a land where human rights are respected and protected. With Hong Kong now lost to Beijing’s clutches, President Trump should respond by showing the strongest support yet for the lonely island that represents the best hope for China’s future.


Marion Smith is executive director of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation in Washington, D.C.

​After COVID-19, It’s Time for Washington to Embrace a Bolder Taiwan Strategy

The time has come for a rethink of U.S. Taiwan policy.


By Craig Singleton

June 13, 2020


After COVID-19, It’s Time for Washington to Embrace a Bolder Taiwan Strategy.


After moving decisively to tighten its grip over Hong Kong, the Chinese government appears eager to ramp up its efforts to intimidate Taiwan. To that end, Beijing’s armed forces have conducted a series of provocative maneuvers around Taiwan and have signaled plans for a large-scale drill simulating the seizure of a strategic island under Taipei’s control.


While China’s actions do not portend a near-term invasion, they are driven, in part, by a sense of fear and embarrassment in Beijing, as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) cannot accept that Taipei’s democratically-elected government proved more adept at responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Rather than minimize Beijing’s actions as an attempt to distract from the pandemic, the United States and its allies should embrace a bold diplomatic strategy and further knock China off-balance.


Since recognizing mainland China in 1979, the U.S. has carefully side-stepped cabinet-level meetings with Taiwanese leaders. To send an unmistakable signal to Beijing, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo should lead a senior bipartisan delegation to Taipei for meetings with President Tsai Ing-wen and her cabinet.


China would, of course, strenuously object to such meetings and threaten retaliation. Beijing made similar threats after President Trump’s 2016 call with Tsai as well as before previous dialogues between U.S. presidents and the Dalai Lama, such as the 2014 White House meeting between the Tibetan leader and Barack Obama. Yet the noise from Beijing was little more than bluster. The mainland’s threats would be especially hollow at the moment, given that Taiwan’s superior response to COVID-19 undermines the CCP’s legitimacy while Chinese citizens are confronting the economic fallout from the pandemic and quietly questioning President Xi Jinping’s leadership.


Meetings with Tsai and her cabinet would send a strong message that Beijing does not get a vote in our diplomatic engagements and that U.S. decision-makers from both parties are willing and eager to stand up to China’s threats. A fitting figure to join Secretary Pompeo would be the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), a principled advocate of human rights and a strong defender of Taiwan.


While the White House’s recently released China strategy details the severity of the threat Beijing poses to the United States and its allies, the report is short on bold ideas for strengthening America’s partnership with Taiwan.


One key proposal for the U.S. delegation to discuss in Taiwan is a bilateral trade deal to help the island diversify its economy and reduce its over-reliance on China. In support of a deal, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed the TAIPEI Act, which urges both countries to begin negotiating a trade pact and for the U.S. to develop a strategy to support other countries that have “strengthened, enhanced or upgraded relations with Taiwan.” While there will likely be sticking points around the import of U.S. beef and pork, enhanced economic cooperation between Taiwan, the United States, and other allies would go a long way toward inoculating the island from Beijing’s economic bullying and help lift the broader global economy following the post-pandemic downturn.


The Trump administration should also re-think its plans to withdraw from the World Health Organization (WHO) and instead demand that Taiwan be allowed to join the international body as part of any future restructuring efforts. Given the president’s fondness for criticizing Beijing’s handling of COVID-19, he should welcome the opportunity to hold up Taipei’s pandemic response as a model for other countries to emulate. The blow to China’s psyche would be palpable, as Beijing has been working in overdrive to assume key leadership posts in international fora in an attempt to rewrite the U.S.-led rules-based order.


It’s also time for the United States to leverage China’s COVID-19 deceptions to shore up broader international support for Taiwan, as Taipei’s circle of friends has steadily decreased over the last few years. For starters, the United States should quickly and discreetly begin engaging those countries most likely to consider switching recognition to Taiwan and then work behind the scenes to incentivize such announcements. This novel tactic has the secondary effect of differentiating our peaceful, diplomatic approach with China’s menacing behavior.


Lastly, the U.S. government should get creative about asymmetric ways to challenge China’s aura of invincibility in the South China Sea. These overt or covert actions could initially focus on campaigns aimed at exposing Chinese malign activities, such the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing vessel by the Chinese Coast Guard, as well as symbolic gestures, such as peaceful military flyovers of contested airspace and increased intelligence sharing with regional partners.


The time has come to put old thinking to bed and embrace big, bold ideas. It is clear China already has. Perhaps it is finally our turn.


Craig Singleton is a national security expert and former diplomat who currently serves as an adjunct fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) for its China Program.

Missing Piece in WHO Campaign

By Shirley Kan

Taipei Times, (date in Taipei) Tue, May 19, 2020, page 8

US President Donald Trump’s administration is carrying out a new US campaign to support Taiwan’s inclusion in the WHO, but this diplomatic effort lacks a critical counter to China’s “Big Lie” about its representation of Taiwan at the UN. 

As the US Congress has urged for many years, strong US leadership to support Taiwan in international organizations is long overdue. The US and other countries are praising the democratic “Taiwan model” in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic in the global interests of truth and transparency.

The campaign is commendable. Even US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo publicly called for Taiwan’s inclusion in yesterday and today’s World Health Assembly (WHA). However, the campaign lacks a critical piece to be more effective. The US and other countries need to counter the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) false claim that UN General Assembly Resolution 2758 means that Taiwan is a province of the PRC.

What is the whole truth that Pompeo should have told? A vote at the UN in 1971 allowed the PRC to join the UN as China’s only representative. However, Resolution 2758 did not address the status of or even mention Taiwan in expelling “the representatives of Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石).” Thus, that resolution did not recognize Taiwan as a part of China.

Indeed, Taiwan has never been a part of the PRC and the UN did not state this claim. Until 1971, the Republic of China (ROC), commonly called Taiwan, was a member of the UN.

To be effective, the US campaign needs more truth-telling. First, while the context is tragic, the PRC is on the defensive around the world about its terrifying misinformation about the coronavirus suspected to have come from a virology laboratory in Wuhan. Many countries recognize that dealing with Beijing can no longer be business as usual. 

Second, Washington needs to counter Beijing’s decades-old disinformation at the UN about Taiwan. Otherwise, it fails to confront the fundamental problem of Beijing’s historical revisionism at the UN that discriminates against Taiwanese.

The Trump administration has carried out a campaign to support not only Taiwan’s observership at the WHA, but also the right of Taiwanese to enter UN buildings. However, US statements have not countered China’s Big Lie.

On April 28, US Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Robert Destro spoke at a virtual workshop on the US-Taiwan Global Cooperation and Training Framework (GCTF) on countering disinformation about COVID-19.

“If the rest of the world would follow the Taiwan Model — including the transparency and timely communications needed to fight disinformation — all of us would be better positioned in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” Destro said.

On Twitter on May 1, the US mission to the UN tweeted: 

“@UN was founded to serve as a venue for all voices, a forum that welcomes a diversity of views & perspectives, & promotes human freedom. Barring #Taiwan from setting foot on UN grounds is an affront not just to the proud Taiwanese people, but to UN principles. #TweetForTaiwan.”

Also on Twitter on the same day, the US Department of State’s Bureau of International Organization Affairs issued several statements to support Taiwan taking part in this year’s WHA.

“The US believes firmly that #Taiwan belongs at the table when the world discusses #COVID19 and other threats to global health. Before 2017, Beijing didn’t object to Taiwan joining the World Health Assembly as an Observer. What’s changed? #TweetforTaiwan,” it tweeted.

“Is the health of Taiwan’s 23 million people less important now than it was before 2017? Or, is the #PRC punishing Taiwan voters for freely choosing their own leader? #TweetforTaiwan,” it wrote.

“We all know Taiwan has long been committed to global health and boasts one of the finest health and research networks in the world, and that Taiwan promotes scientific cooperation and transparency on threats to #health. #TweetforTaiwan #TaiwanModel,” it wrote.

“@iingwen, the contrast with the #PRC is striking. China’s response to the outbreak of #COVID19 has been to hide the facts, muzzle its scientists, and censor discussion. #Taiwan’s response has been and continues to be a model for the world. #TweetforTaiwan #TaiwanModel,” it wrote, referring to President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文).

“Is it too much to ask that Taiwan be permitted to share their expertise, their commitment, with the rest of the world? Will the world succumb to the PRC’s pressure and intimidation? It’s time to be heard, and time to #TweetforTaiwan #TaiwanModel,” it wrote.

“Join us to #TweetforTaiwan’s inclusion at the upcoming World Health Assembly so #Taiwan can bring its incredible expertise to the fight against #Covid19. The world needs Taiwan in this fight! Tell @WHO that it is time for Taiwan to be heard,” it wrote.

Then at a press conference on May 6, Pompeo stated: “Today I want to call upon all nations, including those in Europe, to support Taiwan’s participation as an observer at the World Health Assembly and in other relevant United Nations venues. I also call upon WHO Director-General Tedros to invite Taiwan to observe this month’s WHA, as he has the power to do, and as his predecessors have done on multiple occasions.”

The US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft tweeted on May 6 her supporting statement. 

“Echoing @SecPompeo’s call for the @WHO to include #Taiwan in the World Health Assembly. The world deserves to hear Taiwan’s expertise in responding to #COVID19,” she tweeted.

While the Trump administration can be credited with this campaign for truth-telling and transparency to support Taiwan, Pompeo and others have not addressed the fundamental problem. I have urged the US ambassador to the UN to counter China’s disinformation on Resolution 2758.

The focus of congressional action for many years has been on Taiwan’s participation at the WHO and the annual meetings in Geneva, Switzerland, of its governing body, the WHA. In signing key legislation into law (P.L. 108- 235) in June 2004, then-US president George W. Bush stated that the US fully supported the participation of Taiwan in the work of the WHO, including observer status.

Nonetheless, Taiwan’s inclusion in the WHO and other work at the UN has remained problematic. China has even politicized Taiwan’s involvement in global health.

Only after the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) was inaugurated as ROC president in May 2008 did the WHO in January 2009 include Taiwan in the International Health Regulations (IHR). 

At the WHA in May 2009, Taiwan’s minister of health participated, as an observer, for the first time since the ROC lost membership in the UN.

However, concerns arose that the invitation had required the PRC’s approval, was subjected to a WHO-PRC memorandum of understanding (MOU), and would be ad hoc.

In its required report to the US Congress in 2010, the State Department reported that the WHO invited Taiwan to attend the 2009 WHA after the PRC “agreed to Taiwan’s participation.” 

Moreover, in May 2011, a secret MOU (dated Sept. 14, 2010) came to light in Taiwan, showing that the WHO had an “arrangement with China” to implement the IHR for “Taiwan Province of China.” At the WHA in May 2011, then-US secretary of health and human services Kathleen Sebelius protested to the WHO, saying that no UN organization has a right to determine the position of Taiwan.

In short, even if Taiwan is allowed to be an observer, the WHO would have these or other restrictions on Taiwan’s meaningful participation that hamper communication.

The US campaign has a missing piece, which is critical to set the international record straight. US leadership is needed to counter the PRC’s false claim that it represents Taiwanese. UN Resolution 2758 did not even mention Taiwan.

At the same time, a counter to China’s Big Lie is not about Taiwan’s status, which the UN has not addressed, and nonetheless, is a question for democratic Taiwan to decide. Telling the truth about the resolution is not about Taiwan’s membership in the UN, which is a broader issue to address. Telling this truth is not about any so-called “pro-independence” stance or partisan bias in Taiwan. Telling this truth is not about Taiwan’s independence or the so-called “1992 consensus.” 

Telling this truth is not “punishment” against China or the WHO in perpetrating misinformation on COVID-19. The truth trumps the Big Lie.

Shirley Kan is an independent specialist in Asian security affairs whose service for the US government has included working for Congress at the Congressional Research Service. She is a founding member of the Global Taiwan Institute’s Advisory Board.

​WHO's exclusion of Taiwan from coronavirus assembly leads more nations to sound the alarm
By Peter Aitken | Fox News


Global leaders have joined the United States’ call for the World Health Assembly [WHA] on the coronavirus to include Taiwan.

In a letter to the World Health Organization sent last week, the U.S. made a bipartisan appeal to allies for support in confronting the World Health Organization over its exclusion of the island nation. Taiwan has conducted perhaps the most effective containment of the pandemic, some analysts have said, making its exclusion particularly controversial.

“Diseases know no borders,” the letter read. “We urge your government to join us in addressing the pressing issue of Taiwan’s inclusion in the global health and safety organization.”

It continued, “Given what the world has endured as a result of COVID-19, U.N. member states joining together to insist Taiwan be invited to the upcoming virtual WHA session in May 2020 is the right place to start."

Over the following days, other nations have responded by joining the U.S. in its call for Taiwan’s inclusion in the video conference, set to start on Monday. The de facto British and German embassies in Taipei also issued statements supporting Taiwan’s participation, Reuters reported.

Canadian news network Global News reported that Geneva-based diplomats from Canada, Australia, Japan and every member state of the European Union have joined the call.

“Taiwan’s isolation from the global health community not only presents a serious public health concern, but also is an obstacle that hampers ongoing and future efforts,” the letter stated.

The letter also claimed the international community was “harmed” when important health information was not permitted to “flow freely and easily.”

China strongly opposed Taiwan’s attendance; it’s viewed Taiwan as a breakaway province failing to cohere with its “one-China” policy. Taiwan attended the WHA as an observer from 2009-2016 as “Chinese Taipei,” but China blocked further participation after the election of Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, whom China has viewed as a separatist.

Taiwan has garnered international attention due to its effective measures in containing the pandemic: in addition to an incredibly low 440 confirmed cases and seven deaths, Taiwan has donated equipment to countries in need. Meanwhile, China has struggled to maintain its place as a global leader after potentially obscuring the origins of the virus as well as data that showed the virus was far more severe than initially reported.

WHO claimed it didn’t have the power to invite Taiwan to participate in the annual meeting, and that, instead, the member states will need to vote on the issue.

“To put it crisply, director-generals [DGs] only extend invitations when it’s clear that member states support doing so, that director-generals have a mandate, a basis to do so,” WHO principal legal officer Steven Solomon said.

“Today however, the situation is not the same. Instead of clear support, there are divergent views among member states and no basis... no mandate for the DG to extend an invitation.”

​U.S. Senate passes bill to help Taiwan regain WHA observer status

Focus Taiwan

05/12/2020 01:01 PM

Washington, May 11 (CNA) The United States Senate on Monday passed a bill that asks Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to come up with a strategy to help Taiwan regain observer status at the World Health Assembly (WHA) to be held later this month.

The Senate unanimously passed the bipartisan legislation that was introduced by Senator James Inhofe, co-chair of the U.S. Senate Taiwan Caucus, on Jan. 29 2019, and passed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on June 3, 2019.

The bill directs "the Secretary of State to develop a strategy to regain observer status for Taiwan in the World Health Organization," and to present a report to the Senate "following any annual meetings of the World Health Assembly at which Taiwan did not obtain observer status."

In supporting Taiwan's WHA participation, the bill praises Taiwan as "a model contributor to world health," citing the fact that "Taiwan has invested over US$6 billion in international medical and humanitarian aid efforts impacting over 80 countries since 1996."

One of the supporters of the bill, Senator Cory Gardner, said in a statement that every global partner, including Taiwan, should be included in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic to defeat the coronavirus.

"Granting Taiwan observer status at the World Health Organization would allow Taiwan to fully share its expertise in handling COVID-19 and rightfully reflect its global health care contributions that have been unjustly curtailed by Chinese objections," Gardner said.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a similar bill for the same purpose in January 2019, and House and Senate members will meet to reconcile differences in their bills and come up with a final version that can be passed and signed by U.S. President Donald Trump.

In response to the bill's passage, Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its gratitude and said Taiwan will continue to work with U.S. to contribute its expertise in this field.

The WHA is scheduled to hold its 73rd session from May 18-19, which will be conducted virtually due to travel restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pompeo on May 6 reiterated U.S. support for Taiwan's observer status at the WHA this year, while calling on more countries around the globe to join the effort.

He also called on the head of the WHO to invite Taiwan to this year's WHA, saying it is within a WHO director-general's power to do so.

From 2009 to 2016, Taiwan participated in the WHA as an observer under the name "Chinese Taipei" amid better relations with China during the then-Kuomintang administration.

Since 2017, however, China has persuaded the WHO not to invite Taiwan, in line with Beijing's hardline stance on cross-strait relations since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party took office in May 2016.

The WHO has repeatedly said that Taiwan has to come to an understanding with China on the issue before it can send out an invitation allowing Taiwan to attend the WHA as an observer.

That would suggest an invitation to Taiwan to the WHA is unlikely this year, given the poor state of relations across the Taiwan Strait at present.

(By Stacy Hsu and Joseph Yeh)


​The “Taiwan Model” for Self-Defense

By: Shirley Kan

April 2020

Shirley Kan is an independent specialist in Asian security affairs whose service for the US government has included working for Congress at the Congressional Research Service (CRS). She is a founding member of GTI’s Advisory Board.

People in Taiwan might pay less attention to rumors emanating from the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) chairman’s visit in March and more attention to the US government’s call for Taiwan to implement its Overall Defense Concept for asymmetric advantage. The Congress and Trump Administration have a consensus about arms sales to Taiwan and its military transformation to fortify deterrence. Earning the praise of “Taiwan Model,” Taiwan is gaining international goodwill during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) failure or success in directing the military determines whether that goodwill has implications for Taiwan’s defense against China’s threats. What are the options?

No Time to Waste

For as long as about a month after the AIT chairman imposed a visit in Taipei in early March 2020, reports talked about his purported opinions and pitch for a billion-dollar sale of Raytheon’s Standard Missiles. Taiwan has no time to waste. Such rumors take up the time of Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) that reflexively reacts to reports. Rather than sensational stories, Taiwan should pay attention instead to the US Congress, Administration, and Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) about Taiwan’s essential military reforms to strengthen deterrence against China’s rising threat.    

Indeed, on March 16, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force flew J-11 fighters and KJ-500 early warning aircraft southwest of Taiwan in the first nighttime training near the island, according to MND. As Minister of Defense Yen Te-fa (嚴德發) warned, China continues to increase its military threat even as Taiwan deals with the pandemic.

Before the full-blown pandemic, I wrote that it is in Taiwan’s interest for President Tsai to name quickly the national security officials, even ahead of her second term to start on May 20. Since her re-election in January, attention has focused in particular on decisions about leaders in MND. More happened in January. A tragic crash of a Black Hawk helicopter killed the Chief of General Staff (CGS), Air Force General Shen Yi-ming (沈一鳴). Then, Tsai selected Admiral Huang Shu-kuang (黃曙光) to act as the CGS. On April 13, the President presided over a ceremony, where Huang was officially sworn in to be the CGS. Meanwhile, Tsai has tackled the crisis caused by the coronavirus suspected from a virology laboratory in Wuhan and misinformation from China.

The broader question concerns whether Tsai is failing or succeeding to select MND officials with military experience, leadership capability, willingness to engage internationally, and bold personalities for military transformation under the Overall Defense Concept (ODC). English is not needed. MND designed the ODC partly under the command of a previous CGS (Admiral Lee Hsi-min, 李喜明). But beyond any individuals, the crux of the current challenge is whether Tsai can carry out the concept to construct a cost-effective, lethal, and resilient military.

Tsai is proactively, decisively dealing with the health crisis and earning her country the State Department’s praise of “Taiwan Model” in fighting COVID-19. Keeping Taiwan safe from another threat from China, will Tsai focus the same direct attention to Taiwan’s military as its commander-in-chief? Will Tsai personally dedicate more time to lead the military, beyond simply appointing personnel and delegating to subordinates? Senior US officials talked with Tsai before January. With her re-election over, Tsai’s direction can determine whether there is US-Taiwan divergence or convergence in assessing and deterring the PLA’s threat.

An Opportunity Taiwan Cannot Avoid to Waste

A US consensus supports Taiwan’s sufficient self-defense and asymmetric warfighting to improve military readiness, survivability, and deterrence against China’s threat. The consolidated consensus is held at the Congress, Trump Administration, and INDOPACOM. Will Taiwan apply or waste this opportunity of bipartisan, staunch support?

I have written that Congress has passed laws, including the National Defense Authorization Acts (NDAA), to assert its oversight and policy-making under the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) (P.L. 96-8). Taiwan has tended to cite such legislation as signals of US support. Congress has called on the Administration to approve closer military-to-military (mil-to-mil) exchanges with and regular arms sales to Taiwan, as they suffered presidential delays in notifications to Congress.

However, Taiwan has stressed only some of the story. Significantly, Congress has placed priority on Taiwan’s choices concerning asymmetric capability and reserve fighters.

In 2016, Congress adopted one provision on Taiwan’s defense in the FY2017 NDAA (P.L. 114-328). The law expressed a “sense of Congress,” counseling that the defense secretary should (not shall) improve US-Taiwan mil-to-mil exchanges at senior levels. Still, the conference report requested that the secretaries of defense and state brief Congress on arms sales to Taiwan by September 1, 2017. The report also stressed the importance of regular transfers of defense articles and services; Taiwan’s innovative and asymmetric capabilities (including undersea warfare); Taiwan’s effective air defense with a balance of fighters and mobile air defense systems; and Taiwan’s participation in bilateral training with the US military.

The FY2018 NDAA (P.L. 115-91) included compromise language about a “sense of Congress.” It recommended a stronger partnership with Taiwan, regular arms sales, Taiwan’s participation in air and naval exercises, senior-level mil-to-mil exchanges, expanded training for Taiwan’s military, and consideration of the advisability and feasibility of US naval port calls to Taiwan (rather than the Senate’s proposed directive to re-establish such naval port calls). Most consequentially, the NDAA for FY2018 included a mandatory, yet noncontroversial, provision to normalize the arms sales process by requiring reports and briefings from the defense secretary. The NDAA did not include a provision on Taiwan’s undersea warfare capability.

Congress passed the FY2019 NDAA (P.L. 115-232) with a section on “strengthening Taiwan’s force readiness.” The legislation required that the secretary of defense shall conduct a comprehensive assessment of Taiwan’s military, particularly the reserves. This legislation reinforced the Defense Department’s focus on Taiwan’s requirement to reform its reserves as an effective fighting force. A study, sponsored by the Pentagon and published in 2017 by the RAND Corporation, found Taiwan’s training for its reserve force to be “insufficient to meet the challenges posed by the increasing threat from the PLA.”

There was more. The NDAA for FY2019 also included a “sense of Congress on Taiwan” that, inter alia, called for US arms sales with emphasis on asymmetric warfare and undersea warfare, as well as predictability of arms sales with timely review and response.

In 2019, Congress passed the FY2020 NDAA (P.L. 116-92). Concerning Taiwan, the law required the Pentagon’s reports on subjects that included: cybersecurity, the TRA, National Security Strategy, National Defense Strategy, senior-level exchanges, and regular transfers of US defense articles that are mobile, survivable, and cost effective to most effectively deter attacks and support Taiwan’s asymmetric defense strategy. The NDAA also included a “sense of Congress” on enhancement of bilateral exchanges for defense.

One Fight that Taiwan Cannot Afford to Lose

Congressional expectations about Taiwan’s transformation complement the Administration’s messages. The Defense Department and National Security Council (NSC) emphasize that Taiwan is not alone in needing to build its military into a distributed, maneuverable, and decentralized force to survive and counter the PLA’s missile, air, and naval attacks. Moreover, INDOPACOM adapts its forces to be agile and distributed. According to its new “Force Design 2030,” the US Marine Corps is transforming with the US Navy and stressing “Stand-In Forces” for “technically disruptive, tactical stand-in engagements that confront aggressor naval forces with an array of low signature, affordable, and risk-worthy platforms and payloads.”

This outlook is found in the Administration’s speech delivered by Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense David Helvey at the US-Taiwan defense industry conference in October 2019. He cautioned Taiwan that it cannot afford to overlook preparation for the one fight that it cannot afford to lose. Helvey warned that “if the Overall Defense Concept is to remain Taiwan’s guiding framework […], much remains to be done to ensure Taiwan strikes this balance [between capabilities in peacetime and wartime] by fielding a combat credible force proficient in asymmetric warfare, force preservation, and littoral battle.” He expressed Washington’s earnest expectation for the ODC’s implementation, adding that “the Department and our interagency counterparts are eager to see further progress on these fronts.”

Not Wasting the Goodwill of the “Taiwan Model”

Now, Taiwan is earning the compliment of “Taiwan Model” and garnering greater goodwill in the United States and other countries. The question is how to avoid wasting the goodwill’s potential and to sustain that support for Taiwan’s self-defense. First, Taiwan’s resilient, lethal, and cost-effective deterrent would avoid a fait accompli by China to annex the island. Second, foreign countries have more resolve to assist if assured that Taiwan does not face a hopeless fate and has the operational capability to deter and deny the PLA’s attack. Third, Taiwan can assure that its joint forces will survive (for more than one week) until getting foreign assistance. Fourth, Taiwan’s credibility depends upon whether it implements the ODC in alignment with the assessments across the US Executive and Legislative Branches, military, and intelligence agencies. Fifth, Taiwan’s military credibility counters China’s political warfare in peacetime, even without conflict. Finally, President Tsai’s direct decision-making determines how effectively and urgently the MND reforms the reserve and active forces.

As legislation urged for years, the once-broken arms sales process is repaired with normalized notifications to Congress. The Administration sends general/flag officers to visit Taiwan for substantive dialogues. What are other options, if Taiwan transforms its military? I have raised an issue of whether to foster military interoperability, speaking at GTI’s symposium in 2019. This step would be consistent with an objective of the INDOPACOM to strengthen allies and partners in shared strategic competition with China. More options include enhancing mil-to-mil cooperation concerning: special operations forces (SOF); political warfare; US National Guards; official tabletop exercises and analyses specifically with MND (which is more insular than Taiwan’s NSC); and mutual observation or participation in military exercises such as RIMPAC 2020 (if it will still be held this summer after the pandemic). Washington could consider a formal visit by Taiwan’s minister of defense, although Taipei has remained reluctant.

The main point: Taiwan has no time to waste. President Tsai’s direct decision-making over the military can ensure that the “Taiwan Model” extends foreign goodwill to Taiwan’s defense.

Taiwan's coronavirus success bolsters case for joining WHO, experts say

A dispute over whether the island issued an early warning about the outbreak is overshadowed by its decadeslong fight with China.


April 9, 2020, 11:04 AM EDT
By Cindy Sui

TAIPEI, Taiwan — A dispute over whether Taiwan warned the World Health Organization about human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus before China did has renewed calls to allow the island to join the organization, over the strong objections of Beijing.

The conflict stems from Taiwan's decadeslong struggle for international recognition and China's insistence that the island and mainland China, separated at the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949, are one entity and should be reunified.

Now, disagreement over Taiwan's exclusion from the WHO could have consequences not only for the 24 million people living in Taiwan, but also on the health of people around the world. The growing dispute also comes as President Donald Trump increases pressure on the WHO and its response to the outbreak in China.

Officials from Taiwan contend that it told the WHO in a Dec. 31 email about suspected human-to-human transmission of the virus in China's Hubei province — the same day China officially informed the international health body of the first cases of the previously unknown disease.

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APRIL 8, 202010:11

Joanne Ou, a spokesperson for Taiwan's Foreign Ministry, told NBC News that the warning came from Taiwan's Centers for Disease Control and was sent to China and the WHO.

Ou said health officials in Taiwan knew from the SARS outbreak of 2002-03 that such viruses tend to be transmittable from human to human. "It's the same coronavirus family, which is highly contagious. We informed them of our opinion ... but nobody listened to us," she said recently.

NBC News asked to see the email between Taiwan and the WHO, but Taiwanese officials declined, saying they don't disclose "internal communications" because they are "confidential."

Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University in New Jersey, said he believes that Taiwan has done an "exceptional job" responding to the crisis and that if it had been a member of the WHO, "we would have learned at least two weeks earlier of the threat we were facing."

"In addition, we would have learned at least six weeks earlier that the outbreak could be successfully suppressed and how to do so," he said in an email. "The experience of the last three months shows that exclusion of Taiwan from the WHO decreases the effectiveness of the WHO and increases risks to the world."

Full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak

The WHO denies that Taiwan alerted it about the possibility of human-to-human transmissions in the Dec. 31 email. China's Foreign Ministry has forcefully rejected the implication that it pressured the WHO to ignore Taiwan's early warnings.

As late as Jan. 14, the WHO was tweeting that Chinese investigators had found "no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission."

It wasn't until 10 days later that the WHO announced that there was evidence that the disease was highly contagious and was passed from person to person, four days after China reported it.

The virus has since killed at least 88,900 people around the world, forced governments to put billions of people on lockdown and plunged the world economy into crisis.

Special channel for Taiwan

Taiwan has long complained that it can't get the latest WHO data and guidance directly, nor easily share its information with other countries.

In the past, the WHO required Taiwan to make requests and share data through China, but more recently, the agency has set up a special channel for Taipei to communicate with it directly.

Taiwan's allegation that the WHO mishandled information about the newly discovered disease has highlighted the fact that it is locked out of the agency. Just how sensitive this is came into startling focus on March 28 after a senior WHO official appeared to hang up on a journalist from Hong Kong who asked him about the island's membership.

Ezra Cheung

It is an embarrassing scene. @WHO Director General, Bruce Aylward, hangs up in an interview with RTHK when he is asked about reconsidering Taiwan’s membership. Ironically, despite being so close to China, Taiwan manages to keep the #coronavirus infection and fatality rate low.

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The WHO issued a statement later saying Taiwanese membership is up to WHO member states, not WHO staff members, to decide.

Under President Donald Trump, China and the U.S. have become embroiled in seemingly constant friction, from the trade war and protests in Hong Kong to allegations that Beijing initially tried to cover up the outbreak.

The president and members of his administration have also angered Chinese officials by accusing Beijing of not having alerted the world quickly enough to the severity of the outbreak and by using the terms "China virus" and "Chinese virus."

Now, the Trump administration has stepped into the dispute over whether Taiwan should be in the WHO, criticizing it for allegedly having bowed to Chinese pressure.

"They missed the call. They could have called it," Trump said of the WHO during Tuesday's coronavirus briefing. "They would have known, and they should have known, and they probably did know."

He also took issue with the agency's criticism of his ban on travel from China in early February, calling the agency "China-centric" and threatening to review the millions of dollars the U.S. contributes to the agency's budget.

WHO chief: 'Please don't politicize this virus'

APRIL 9, 202002:15

The WHO has responded to such criticisms by insisting that it actively sought information from China, gauged the situation through its own means and shared its findings with the world.

On Wednesday, Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus defended the organization, saying the agency works closely with every nation, while urging the U.S and others to join forces in the efforts against the virus.

"The focus of all political parties is to save the people. Please don't politicize the virus," he said.

The WHO has also praised China for having quickly identified the new virus and shared its data.

According to the WHO, the organization was informed of cases of an unknown pneumonia in Wuhan on Dec. 31. From Dec. 31 to Jan. 3, China reported 44 cases of pneumonia of "unknown etiology," the organization has said.

According to the state-run newspaper China Daily, authorities there said they began regularly informing the WHO, "relevant countries" and regions, and China's Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan about the pneumonia outbreak starting Jan. 3.

Trump's comments about the WHO and China followed the signing into law on March 26 of the Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative Act, under which the U.S. government agreed to advocate for Taiwan's participation in international organizations.


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"The responsibility now falls to the United States government to comply with each and every component of that," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said later.

On Friday, the State Department called for Taiwan to be given observer status in the WHO's World Health Assembly, specifically citing Taiwan's success in fighting the coronavirus.

"Taiwan is a leader in preventing the spread of COVID-19. The United States and Taiwan hope to share the Taiwan Model with countries around the world. Taiwan has a role to play in global health and should be a World Health Assembly observer," the department's Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs said on Twitter.[Image: Travelers pass through a health screening checkpoint at Wuhan Tianhe International Airport in Wuhan in southern China's Hubei province]
Travelers pass through a health screening checkpoint at Wuhan Tianhe International Airport in southern China's Hubei province on Jan. 21.Emily Wang / AP

Taiwan participated in the World Health Assembly as an observer when relations between Beijing and Taipei were relatively goodfrom 2009 to 2016. Since 2017, Beijing has prevented Taiwan from participating.

On Thursday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian lashed out at officials in Taiwan, saying that since the outbreak authorities on the island "have been going high and low for reckless political manipulation and continuously playing up Taiwan’s so-called participation in WHO and the World Health Assembly, with the real aim of using the epidemic to seek independence."

"We are firmly opposed to this. Their scheme will never succeed," he added.

China has also reacted to U.S. criticism of its handling of the outbreak by accusing the Trump administration of trying to divert attention from criticism of its own slow response.

In a news briefing March 24, Zhu Fenglian, a spokeswoman for China's Taiwan Affairs Office, rejected claims that the mainland had initially concealed the epidemic.

"In the past two months or so, the people of the mainland have united as one and worked hard to fight the epidemic," she said. "The achievements they have achieved are universally recognized, and they have won precious time for epidemic prevention for the world."

Zhu added that China had frequently shared health information with Taiwan and that as of March 24 had notified the island's authorities 101 times.

The WHO has also rebutted Taiwan's version of events.

An agency spokesperson, Tarik Jašarević, told NBC News that the Dec. 31 email didn't mention anything about human-to-human transmission.

"The email said that there were news reports of atypical pneumonia reported in Wuhan and that Wuhan authorities said they believed it was not SARS and that they are doing examinations," Jašarević said, referring to authorities in the city where the outbreak was first identified. "The email ends by asking WHO if we have any information to share."

China has also forcefully rejected allegations that it pressured the WHO to downplay evidence of human-to-human transmission.

"We believe that the WHO will always properly handle relevant issues in accordance with the one-China principle and General Assembly resolution 2758," Geng Shuang, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said March 24, referring to the 1971 U.N. resolution that recognized the People's Republic of China and ejected the Republic of China (Taiwan) from the United Nations.[Image: Medical staff transfer a patient at the Jinyintan hospital, where the patients with pneumonia caused by the new strain of coronavirus are being treated, in Wuhan]
Medical staff transfer a patient at the Jinyintan hospital, where the patients with new strain of coronavirus are being treated, in Wuhan in January.Darley Shen / Reuters

In his emails to NBC News, Jašarević also said that despite Taiwan's not being a member, the WHO works closely with Taiwanese authorities, receiving and sharing information and expertise on several health issues.

'Exceptional job'

Taiwan's officials maintain that the island is kept out of most WHO meetings and that communication between the two sides isn't as broad and efficient as it is between the WHO and its member countries.

The coronavirus pandemic and the Dec. 31 email bring up the perennial question of whether the island should be allowed to join the health body.

Chan Chang-chuan, dean of National Taiwan University's College of Public Health, believes Taiwan should be included because it can contribute in ways other countries can't.

He said Taiwan learned about the virus much earlier than others, partly because of its proximity to the mainland and because it speaks the same language, has many Taiwanese people living there and knows how to deal with diseases originating from China.

"Taiwan learned during the SARS outbreak that it cannot expect timely and accurate information from China when it comes to newly emerging diseases," Chan said. "So this time, it tried to find out information on its own."

He said Taiwan's participation in the WHO "could create another possible channel for getting timely and accurate information about China, because we're so close and there's so much interaction."

Taiwan slams WHO 'groundless and false accusations' of racism

APRIL 9, 202001:03

Renewed scrutiny of Taiwan's relationship with the WHO has come amid widespread praise for the island's handling of the outbreak.

As of Thursday, Taiwan had 308 active cases and five deaths — far fewer than many countries in Asia and regions farther from China. The island swiftly adopted epidemic prevention measures based on the assumption that the coronavirus could be transmitted human to human, actions that helped it avoid widespread transmissions.

Many governments have been criticized for having reacted slowly or not adequately enough, even as they watched the situation in China and elsewhere become serious and as Beijing placed Hubei province's 58 million people under lockdown Jan. 23.

It's not clear whether an early warning from Taiwan, if it had indeed been made and if it had been communicated to other countries, would have made a difference. And regardless of whether Taiwan's inclusion in the WHO would've had an impact, Taiwanese officials hope the island's success in dealing with the disease and stepped-up U.S. support mean its pleas will finally be heard.

"We need the WHO, and the WHO needs Taiwan," the island's health minister, Chen Shih-chung, said at a news conference recently.Cindy Sui

​Sanders says he would use military if China attacked Taiwan

By Edmund DeMarche | Fox News


Bernie Sanders holds onto front runner status with Nevada primary win

Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Democratic presidential frontrunner, said in an interview that aired Sunday that he would take military actions if China decided to strike Taiwan.


Sanders offered a glimpse into his position on national defense during a wide-ranging interview on "60 Minutes." The Vermont senator cemented his status as the party's frontrunner after a decisive victory Saturday in the Nevada Caucuses.

Sen. Bernie Sanders tells 60 Minutes he would use military force under certain conditions if he were elected president, and tells @andersoncooper he would be willing to sit down with Kim Jong Un. See more of the interview, tonight. https://cbsn.ws/3a1uCK3 

The Chinese consider Taiwan—a mountainous island with more than 23 million people—as a renegade province and lobbed ballistic missiles into the seas north and south of the island before its first fully democratic presidential election in 1996.

Beijing, which has been dealing with the coronavirus, has shown a willingness to flex its muscles in the region.

Anderson Cooper, a correspondent for the program, asked Sanders the type of international crisis that would force his hand to use military force. Cooper used a hypothetical scenario that involved a Beijing assault on Taipei.

"Yeah, that's something…I mean, we’ve got to make it clear to countries around the world that we will not sit by and allow invasions to take place," he said. Sanders said his criteria for military action would be threats against the U.S. and its allies. He said he would work to form alliances.

Earlier this year, Sanders criticized President Trump over his decision to kill Iran’s top general Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike. He said in an interview at the time that, as a senator, he would do everything in his power to prevent the U.S. from entering another war like Iraq.

Trump insisted that Soleimani’s killing made the U.S. safer. Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, told Fox News that the general was planning imminent attacks.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

U.S., Taiwan in search of technology to fight disinformation

Focus Taiwan

02/19/2020 03:43 PM

Taipei, Feb. 19 (CNA) The U.S.-Taiwan Tech Challenge: Countering Disinformation and Propaganda, a two-day event, opened Wednesday as part of efforts between Taiwan and the United States in search of innovative technologies to combat disinformation.

Co-organized by the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and the U.S. Department of State's Global Engagement Center, the event is aimed at advancing the development of technologies that offer solutions to help expose, understand, or counter misinformation and disinformation, according to the AIT.

AIT Deputy Director Raymond Greene and Patricia Watts, director of the Technology Engagement Team under the State Department, attended the opening ceremony at the Taipei International Convention Center.

"We are confident that the assembled technologists, experts and others at this Tech Challenge will be able to develop cutting-edge solutions to the challenges posed by disinformation," Greene said.

Countering disinformation is one of the most complex challenges facing democratic societies around the world, he added.

Greene said Taiwan is on the front line of the disinformation battlefield, in which China has invested heavily to develop sophisticated ways to anonymously disseminate disinformation through various channels, including social media.

"The U.S. and Taiwan are capable and complementary partners in confronting the challenge of disinformation," Greene said, suggesting that the U.S. can learn from Taiwan's approach, which combines school curriculum reform, tech development, academic research and refined fact-checking methods.

In the 2018 local elections and the 2020 presidential election in Taiwan, it was noticed that fake news and disinformation aimed at influencing election results spread rampantly via social media, with the sources of the fake news mostly traced to China.

Although the elections are over, disinformation continues in Taiwan, with its focus shifted to the COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic.

Keynote speaker Audrey Tang (唐鳳), Taiwan's minister without portfolio responsible for digital technology, shared Taiwan's playbook for countering disinformation, which involves a timely response and collaborative fact-checking, as well as requiring transparency in campaign expenditures and donations during election periods to determine the source of such funds.

On day one of the event, seven tech companies -- five from Taiwan and one each from Australia and Israel -- will demonstrate technology they have developed to address disinformation to a panel of judges, vying for funding totaling US$250,000.

On day two, four interactive panel sessions on the development and implementation of technology for countering disinformation will be held.

The panelists will include representatives from Facebook, Microsoft, Google and various other companies.

(By Emerson Lim)

Taiwan politician’s visit to Washington risks enraging China

Financial Times

Kathrin Hille


Vice-president-elect’s trip to US capital is first since 1979 by high-level politician President Tsai Ing-wen's celebrates her landslide election victory last month.  Taiwan’s vice-president-elect is visiting Washington and New York in the highest-level visit by a politician from the island to the US capital since the country cut diplomatic relations with Taipei in 1979. In a trip that will probably enrage Beijing, Lai Ching-te flew to the US on Sunday night to attend the National Prayer Breakfast, his office said on Monday. The annual political event is attended by business and political elites and features an address by the US president. Although the breakfast is not controlled by the US state department, permission from the Trump administration would have been required for Mr Lai to attend. Mr Lai is due to be inaugurated alongside President Tsai Ing-wen on May 20 after a landslide victory in January. He belongs to a part of the ruling Democratic Progressive party (DPP) that wants to formalise Taiwan’s independence. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) claims Taiwan as its territory, although it has never ruled the island. Beijing has pressured third countries and international organisations to refuse Taipei any treatment that would suggest recognition or acknowledgment of its statehood. Shelley Rigger, a Taiwan expert at Davidson College, said allowing Mr Lai to visit Washington was a risky move that could destabilise relations between Taiwan and Beijing as well as between China and the US. “It bears a strong resemblance to when Donald Trump took Tsai Ing-wen’s congratulatory call as president-elect. Beijing will react as strongly as they think they can get away with,” she said. “They have paranoia about Lai in particular and see him as an independence fundamentalist.” Since changing its diplomatic recognition of China from Taipei to Beijing in 1979, the US has allowed Taiwanese presidents to make short visits in transit to and from Taiwan’s diplomatic allies. But trips to Washington have been strictly off limits. Lower ranking Taiwanese ministers and lawmakers have occasionally visited and presidential candidates traditionally do so, too, in the early phases of their campaigns. But their US interlocutors normally keep meetings out of the public eye and take pains not to conduct them in government buildings. Both US and Taiwanese government officials have described relations as the best since 1979. Ms Tsai has earned Washington’s support with a steady policy towards China, asserting Taiwan’s sovereignty while avoiding moves that could be construed as provocation by Beijing. Recommended AnalysisTaiwan Taiwan election result leaves China’s Xi Jinping with few options  US officials have a more ambivalent view of Mr Lai because of his support for formal Taiwan independence, according to diplomats and officials. Mr Lai’s visit comes as the spread of the coronavirus outbreak highlights Taiwan’s isolation. The World Health Organization treats Taiwan as a part of China, including data on Taiwanese victims in the overall China count, and refuses to engage with Taiwan directly. Officials in Taipei said the Chinese government had ignored pleas to allow an evacuation of its citizens from outbreak-affected areas for nearly two weeks. It agreed to start flying them out on Monday night. Taiwan’s exclusion from international co-operation in combating the coronavirus outbreak mirrors the severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) epidemic in 2003. At the time, Taipei was forced to rely on a team of officials from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who obtained vital information from the WHO on Taiwan’s behalf.




Taiwan's elections rounded off a turbulent year for the Chinese Communist Party. China's growing influence in the world has brought with it more scrutiny, whether on malign trade practices, human rights abuses in the territories it controls, or its slowing economic growth.

Beijing's authoritarian system has galvanized pro-democracy forces in Hong Kong and Taiwan. While Hong Kong is already under Chinese control as part of its "one country, two systems" approach, Taipei remains independent—much to Beijing's frustration.

Chinese officials maintain that Taiwan—left independent after communist forces took control of the mainland in the country's civil war—is a wayward province that will be returned to the fold under the Communist Party's rule, whether by diplomatic or military means.

Taiwan—officially called the Republic of China—held its presidential election earlier this month, with voters delivering a clear rejection of closer ties with Beijing. President Tsai Ing-wen—the leader of the anti-reunification Democratic Progressive Party—was re-elected with around 57 percent of the vote. The Kuomintang party, in favor of eventual reunification with Beijing, took 38 percent.

In her first post-election interview, Tsai told the BBC that Taiwan is already "an independent country" and need not declare itself separate from China—a step that would provoke fury in Beijing.

"We have a separate identity and we're a country of our own," Tsai said. "We deserve respect from China."

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi offered a scathing appraisal of the vote, warning, "Those who split the country will be doomed to leave a stink for 10,000 years," a phrase used in China meaning to "become infamous," Reuters reported.

Wang said Beijing's "One China" policy "won't alter a bit because of a local election on Taiwan, and will not be shaken because of the wrong words and actions of certain Western politicians," referring to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who had congratulated Tsai.

Days after the election, Newsweek spoke with diplomat Stanley Kao—head of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Washington, D.C. and Taiwan's top representative in the U.S.

He echoed Tsai's remarks and said the Taiwanese people have rejected the idea of Chinese reunification. Kao also called on the U.S. to maintain its historic support for Washington's independence in the face of an increasingly assertive Chinese regime.

What should Beijing take from the presidential election result?

On January 11 2020, Taiwanese citizens once again exercised their political rights. With the support of a record 8.17 million voters, Dr. Tsai Ing-wen was re-elected as president for the next four years, and the Democratic Progressive Party remains the majority in the parliament.

Through the elections, Taiwan has proudly demonstrated to the world its strong commitment to universal values and that the island republic has been and will always be a beacon of democracy in the Asia-Pacific and beyond.

China should engage in serious reflection about the Taiwan people's expectations as expressed by the election results. Through these elections, the Taiwanese citizens, who dislike being threatened or undermined all the time, are sending a loud and clear message. With a successful democratic system and a decent economy, we deserve respect from China.

As President Tsai pronounced in her acceptance speech, "peace, parity, democracy, and dialogue are the key to positive cross-Strait interactions and long-term stable development." We sincerely hope that the Beijing authorities face the reality and choose the right path for peaceful and constructive cross-Strait relations.

Is Taiwan drifting further from China's goal of reunification?

Over the past three and half years, our government has been firm on our bottom line regarding Taiwan's sovereignty and security, but we have also been willing to maintain healthy exchanges with China.

Beijing's proposal of a "One Country, Two Systems" model for Taiwan is utterly unacceptable. In the face of China's unmasked intention and creeping behavior to unilaterally change the cross-Strait status quo, Taiwan has had no choice but to continue consolidating our mechanisms for democracy and establishing sufficient defense capabilities.

Despite China's constant diplomatic pressure and military muscle-flexing, we stay undaunted, vigilant and at the same time have maintained a non-provocative, non-adventurist attitude to prevent serious conflict from breaking out in the Taiwan Strait.

What is your reaction to the reports of Chinese meddling in the election?

Taiwan's vibrant democratic practices are a stark contrast to Beijing's ruthless one-party rule and oppression. This explains why the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been intensifying its efforts to meddle in Taiwan's political process through diplomatic suppression, disinformation, infiltration and economic coercion. Taiwan learned a lesson from the 2018 local elections, in which fake news and malicious rumors influenced the perception of voters in Taiwan.

In order to strengthen our mechanisms for democracy, we not only established a system to boost our ability to clarify disinformation, but also amended a number of laws to hold those accountable if they are distributing fake news or manufacturing fake news. Moreover, in order to increase transparency in our political process, we recently enacted the Anti-Infiltration Act in January 2020.

Also, Taiwan's democratic achievement puts a different kind of pressure on China. It is an obvious challenge to the CCP leadership and a beacon of hope for the oppressed people in Hong Kong and Xinjiang, as well as millions of underground Christians under Beijing's brutal, autocratic control.

How much of an impact do you think Chinese policy in Hong Kong and Xinjiang made in this election?

Hong Kong's experience under the "One Country, Two Systems" model has shown the world that authoritarianism and democracy cannot coexist. The so-called "One Country, Two Systems," the allegedly magic formula promised and practiced in Hong Kong, has been proven wrong, a total failure, and a flat-out lie. It will never be an option for Taiwan.

We are very concerned about the erosion of freedom and democracy in Hong Kong. The massive street protests in Hong Kong have not only made the Taiwanese cherish their existing democratic system and way of life even more, but also have made it clear to them that the "One Country, Two Systems" model is not viable.

At this moment, it is even more significant for a "Beacon Taiwan" and a "Vision Taiwan" to keep staying its course, walking tall, and upholding our sovereignty, security and dignity.

The January 11 elections showed that, when facing and pushing back the authoritarian Orwellian nonsense and bullying from Beijing on the frontline, the 23 million hardworking men and women on this island stand strong as an unmistakable and impeccable democratic partner in the Indo-Pacific region.[Tsai Ing-wen, China, Taiwan, election, Stanley Kao]
Tsai Ing-wen waves to supporters following her re-election as president of Taiwan on January 11, 2020 in Taipei, Taiwan.CARL COURT/GETTY IMAGES/GETTY

China has been pressuring nations to drop official recognition of Taiwan—how can Taipei fight this?

Just as President Tsai pointed out in the interview with the BBC on January 14, "this is the time for us to think about this situation—the people's expectations, the changes in international politics, and also the potential regional tensions. So "cross-Strait" is no longer cross-Strait relations per se. It's part of the regional situation. So it's a much more complicated situation now."

Over the past few years, China has blatantly used financial and political pressure to squeeze Taiwan's international space. We have responded with the sternest condemnation as not only a threat to Taiwan, but also a brazen challenge and detriment to the international order. For decades, Taiwan's attitude towards its diplomatic allies has been one of genuine friendship. We spare no effort and engage our allies with respect and sincerity.

However, Taiwan will not engage in dollar diplomacy or "debt trap" diplomacy for official recognition. Instead, we will continue to actively collaborate with both diplomatic allies and like-minded partners based on shared values and mutual interests.

Taiwan should be given a fair opportunity to meaningfully participate in international affairs and punch above its weight to contribute in one way or another. Rest assured that Taiwan can help.

Is the U.S. doing enough to support Taiwan?

It is by the overwhelmingly bi-partisan support and unwavering commitment of the American people, Congress and the U.S. government that Taiwan can be the democracy as it is today and remains as a vital partner of the U.S. in addressing common challenges and threats.

Like-minded partners, including the U.S., should not shy away from expressing their support for our flourishing democracy and economic prosperity. One concrete sign of American resolve would be the attendance of a cabinet-level official at the inauguration of Taiwan's freely elected leaders this year.

An equally important step would be to boost strategic and economic cooperation through the early negotiation of a bilateral trade agreement. A strong and enduring U.S.-Taiwan partnership will be a concrete assurance of a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Do you expect this election result to prompt more Chinese military activity in the Taiwan Strait?

We urge China to respect the election results and the will and determination of the Taiwanese citizens.

It is our firm belief that only under the principle of "peace, parity, democracy, and dialogue" can the cross-Strait relations be improved, much like President Tsai stated in the BBC interview that "You cannot exclude the possibility of a war at any time. But the thing is you have to get yourself prepared and develop the ability to defend yourself."

Therefore, we are not going to be provocative whatsoever in our relationship with China, but we have to equip ourselves with sufficient defense capabilities to deter any sort of aggression or hostile military actions. That is our priority.

Taiwan is an indispensable member and key stakeholder of the international community. As Vice President Mike Pence noted in his speech at the Wilson Center last October, "The international community must never forget that its engagement with Taiwan does not threaten the peace; it protects the peace on Taiwan and throughout the region."

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted his congratulatory message to President Tsai, reaffirming Taiwan's robust democratic system and developing a strong U.S.-Taiwan partnership. We could not agree with them more!​

Taiwan election: Tsai Ing-Wen wins landslide in rebuke to China

Incumbent’s success marks dramatic comeback for party that campaigned against unification with China

The Guardian

Lily Kuo in Taipei

Sat 11 Jan 2020 12.15 EST

Taiwanese voters have re-elected incumbent president Tsai Ing-Wen in a landslide election that serves as a sharp rebuke to Beijing and its attempts to intimidate and cajole Taiwan into China’s fold.

Winning more than 8m votes, the most any presidential candidate has garnered since Taiwan began holding direct elections for the position in 1996, Tsai easily defeated her opponent Han Kuo-yu, whose Kuomintang party promotes closer ties with China.

“This election is about whether or not we choose freedom and democracy,” Tsai said, delivering her victory speech in Taipei. “We must work to keep our country safe and defend our sovereignty.”

More than 14 million citizens travelled to their hometowns to vote in the presidential and legislative election on Saturday, casting ballots in schools, temples, parking lots and community centres. Tsai’s party also maintained its majority of seats in the legislature.

Tsai’s win, coming after major losses for her Democratic Progressive party (DPP) in the 2018 midterm elections, marks a dramatic comeback helped by a slowly improving economy, missteps by the opposition and mass protests in Hong Kong that exposed what coming under Beijing’s authority might look like to many young Taiwanese.

Increased intimidation from China appears to have helped Tsai, who opposes unification with the mainland. In the run-up to the election, China twice sailed its new aircraft carrier through the Taiwan strait. In a speech addressed to Taiwan last year, Chinese leader Xi Jinping said Beijing would not rule out the use of force to bring Taiwan under its authority.

During Tsai’s first term, Beijing cut off dialogue with Taiwan, persuaded several of its few remaining allies to drop recognition of it and halted independent travel of Chinese tourists.

“This election result carries an added significance. They have shown that when our sovereignty and democracy are threatened the Taiwanese will shout our determination even more loudly back,” Tsai said.

'We need more dreams': Taiwan's 'Squad' rallies youth ahead of election 
Read more

“With each presidential election, Taiwan is showing how much we cherish our free democratic way of life and how much we cherish our nation,” she said.

Taiwan came under military rule by the Kuomintang (KMT), formerly the governing power of China, after its leaders fled the country in 1949 ahead of advancing communists. Since martial law was lifted in 1987, it has gradually evolved into one of the most vibrant democracies in Asia. Although Taiwan enjoys de facto independence, it is recognised as a state by only 15 other countries.

Han, Beijing’s preferred candidate, conceded the election by saying he had not “worked hard enough”. “No matter what happens, I still hope to see a united Taiwan … I urge president Tsai Ing-wen to focus on giving people a life where they can live safely and happily,” he said.

Han, who had campaigned on the slogan “Taiwan safe, people rich,” backed away from calls for closer ties with China after it appeared to hurt his popularity. In November, when his party released a list of pro-unification party members for at-large legislative seats, support for him dropped.

Supporters of Han, a populist candidate who has drawn comparisons to Donald Trump, were grim-faced and some were crying at the KMT’s headquarters in Taipei.

“This is just a huge loss for the [Chinese communist party]. The CCP is likely to respond in terms of doubling down on their current strategy of trying to punish Taiwan as much as possible, but at the end of the day it shows its just going to push people toward a green president,” said Lev Nachman, a PhD candidate at the University of California, Irvine, focusing on Taiwan. Tsai’s party and those aligned with it are considered part of the “green camp”.

Supporters of Tsai said the result was proof of the maturation of Taiwan’s democracy. In the lead-up to the election, citizens were flooded with fake news and disinformation campaigns that many suspected to have come from China.

“This is a test of how much democracy and freedom have developed in Taiwan. People can judge right from wrong, whether the news is true or false, and whether or not they will support politicians who do little but put on a show,” said Tek Dee, 36, who voted in Taipei. “It’s a rejection of China’s attempts to swallow up or influence Taiwan,” she said.

Others believe Han was the victim of smears from the media, proof that Taiwan has become overly politicised. “This election is a battle between truth and evil. If Han loses, I will not believe in justice any more,” said Xu, a lecturer at a local university in Kaohsiung who asked to only give her surname.

Many have described the election as a generational standoff, with older voters supporting Han and the KMT’s policies of closer economic ties with China. Younger Taiwanese have skewed toward Tsai, who campaigned heavily on pledges to protect Taiwan’s democracy.

“Tsai’s victory dispels the narrative Beijing has been pushing that Taiwan’s economic and political future is reliant on China,” said Jessica Drun, a non-resident fellow at the Project 2049 Institute.

While Tsai has positioned herself as a protector of Taiwan’s sovereignty, some believe she and her party have not gone far enough. Tsai has said she will maintain Taiwan’s current de facto sovereignty and oppose any form of “one country, two systems” – the framework employed in Hong Kong that has been floated as a possible model for Taiwan.

The foreign minister, Joseph Wu, said this week that Tsai’s government would not disrupt the status quo with a formal declaration of independence.

“If today she said she was for Taiwan independence, I would immediately give her my vote,” said 22-year-old Huang Kaicheng, who recently graduated from a university in Taipei.

Huang voted for Han but believes neither party has offered much in the way of policy proposals. “Whoever we elect, it won’t make a difference,” he said.

Tsai’s win also comes after another election result that embarrassed Beijing: the landslide victory of pro-democracy candidates in Hong Kong’s district council races in November.

Response to Taiwan’s election was muted in China, with the country’s state council for Taiwan affairs issuing a statement that Beijing “resolutely opposes any separatist attempt for ‘Taiwan independence’” and maintains its support for “peaceful reunification.”

Censors appeared to have blocked some of the discussion of the race on Weibo. But internet users left comments under a report on Tsai’s win by state news agency Xinhua, accusing domestic media of misleading them.

“We can’t see the real information, so the election results in Taiwan and Hong Kong are always unexpected,” one wrote. “How did this happen?” another said.

Additional reporting by Wu Pei-lin and Lillian Yang

​US, Taiwan Team Up to Stop Small Countries From Allying With China

By Ralph Jennings
November 15, 2019 01:26 PM


TAIPEI, TAIWAN - Taiwan and the United States have sent their first joint trade delegation to one of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies as tiny, often impoverished countries keep turning instead to China, a source of aid for the developing world but a perceived threat to both delegation organizers.
In the first week of November, the delegation visited Saint Lucia, one of just 15 nations that recognize Taiwan diplomatically instead of China. They assessed ways offshore businesses could help the Caribbean country with infrastructure, trade and investment, the government-run Central News Agency in Taipei said.
“The way to consolidate diplomatic relationships is multi-dimensional,” Taiwan Foreign Ministry spokesperson Joanne Ou said. “It should be an effort across different domains, and investment is one of them. We hope that it will help. We do hope that through this joint delegation, it can play an important role.”
Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry hasn’t announced plans for future visits to other Taiwan diplomatic allies but doesn’t rule out the idea.[FILE - From left, the World Bank's Erik Bethel, Saint Lucia Gov. Nancy Charles, Taiwanese Amb. to Saint Lucia Shen Cheng-tsung, and U.S. Department of State official Corey Johnston visit a U.S.-owned firm in Saint Lucia, Nov 6. 2019. (@USEmbassyBbdos)]
FILE - From left, the World Bank's Erik Bethel, Saint Lucia Gov. Nancy Charles, Taiwan Amb. to Saint Lucia Shen Cheng-tsung, and U.S. Department of State official Corey Johnston visit a U.S.-owned firm, in Saint Lucia, Nov 6. 2019. (@USEmbassyBbdos)

 Protecting fragile alliances
The prospect of more U.S. aid spearheaded by Taiwan should give allies in Latin America and the South Pacific new incentives to stick by Taipei instead of switching recognition to China, analysts believe. Those countries would see Washington as a potentially powerful benefactor, and some have received American assistance in the past.
Since 2016, seven countries have switched allegiance from Taiwan to China, which officials in Taipei say offers hefty sums of infrastructure aid. China bars any of its 180-plus allies from forming relations with Taiwan because it regards Taiwan as part of Chinese territory rather than a state entitled to its own diplomacy.
Taiwan and China have been separately ruled since the Chinese civil war of the 1940s. The government in Beijing maintains that the two sides should eventually unite.
“The current government needs desperately help on the part of the United States to enhance the further relationships with Caribbean countries, particularly when mainland China has played a heavy-handed role,” said Liu Yih-jiun, public affairs professor at Fo Guang University in Taiwan.
“At this moment I don’t see that without help on the part of goodwill of the United States that anything else can be done,” Liu said.
Common causes for Taiwan, US
Taiwan looks to its allies for a voice in the United Nations, where China prevents Taiwan from acquiring U.N. membership. They also offer Taiwan an international profile that could otherwise be overshadowed by the larger, more economically powerful China.
U.S. officials hope to stop their former Cold War foe China from expanding militarily, said Sean King, vice president of the Park Strategies political consultancy in New York. China’s navy is passing ever more often into waters outside its coastal economic zones.
“Washington wants to help Taipei maintain whatever international standing and presence it has left not least because governments that still formally recognize Taipei can help speak up for it at the United Nations and in various world bodies,” King said. “We the U.S. also want to ward off any new PLA (People's Liberation Army) naval berths in the Pacific.”[A Taiwan Air Force F-16 fighter jet lands on a closed section of highway during the annual Han Kuang military exercises in Chiayi, central Taiwan, Sept. 16, 2014. U.S. arms sales to Taiwan now reportedly total some $12 billion.]

 Under President Donald Trump, the U.S. government has helped Taiwan resist China by passing naval ships through the strait separating the two Asian rivals and selling advanced weaponry to Taipei.
After the South Pacific nations of Kiribati and the Solomon Islands broke ties with Taiwan in September, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that Washington would provide $15 million to strengthen “governance” and “autonomy” of South Pacific countries, the State Department said online.

Taiwan has four remaining Pacific allies: Nauru, Palau, Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands.
Saint Lucia case
Members of the joint delegation to Saint Lucia have not finalized their “assessment” of what the country needs, Taiwan's Ou said.

Taiwan had helped the country before to develop health care, education, technology and “empowerment” for women and children, she said. Future investments there hinge on what private-sector Taiwanese investors want to offer, she added.
China is still likely to offer more than Taiwan or the United States can, King said. “Sadly, Beijing can more than match whatever we offer these governments not to switch,” he said.
Saint Lucia’s 200,000 people live at a higher standard than around much of the Caribbean because of growth in tourism. But the tiny island benefits from foreign direct investment in tourism as well as offshore banking and trans-shipments, U.S. research organization The Heritage Foundation says.
China made offers totaling at least $8.6 billion to the countries that switched allegiance since 2016, the foreign ministry in Taipei estimated in September.


Reagan’s Memo and its Prequel on Arms Sales to Taiwan

By: Shirley Kan

October 9, 2019

Shirley Kan is an independent specialist in Asian security affairs who worked for Congress at the Congressional Research Service (CRS); founding member of GTI’s Advisory Board.

On August 30, 2019, as one of his final actions as the National Security Advisor, John Bolton declassified President Reagan’s secret memo dated August 17, 1982, to direct United States (US) policy in how to interpret the Communiqué issued with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on the same day. That third US-PRC Communiqué concerned US arms sales to Taiwan. What was the context for Reagan’s memo as well as a vague note that he wrote earlier in 1982 to “keep our promises to Taiwan”—what I call the prequel? What are implications of these Presidential directives for US policy, Congressional oversight, and Taiwan?

Directing Policy on Arms Sales

In September 2019, the National Security Council (NSC) decided to release the declassified memo in full with Reagan’s signature and through the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT). On August 17, 1982, Reagan signed the four-paragraph memo as a directive to Secretaries of State and Defense George Shultz and Caspar Weinberger. Reagan emphasized that any reduction in arms sales to Taiwan would be premised on peace in the Taiwan Strait and China’s declared “fundamental policy” of a peaceful resolution to the question of Taiwan. The President added that “the US willingness to reduce its arms sales to Taiwan is conditioned absolutely upon the continued commitment of China to the peaceful solution of the Taiwan-PRC differences. It should be clearly understood that the linkage between these two matters is a permanent imperative of US foreign policy.” Finally, Reagan emphasized that “it is essential that the quantity and quality of the arms provided Taiwan be conditioned entirely on the threat posed by the PRC. Both in quantitative and qualitative terms, Taiwan’s defense capability relative to that of the PRC will be maintained.”

Actually, Reagan’s memo has been known for many years in the NSC and other parts of the US Government and outside, as I and others have discussed or provided the text. I included it in my CRS Report for Congress, which cited among other sources the authoritative Ambassador James Lilley. [1]

Nonetheless, through successive administrations, skeptics had questioned why the NSC could not produce the memo from its archives. The NSC’s release of this memo is overdue and puts the guidance in the unclassified, official record for Congress in its oversight and other actions. Moreover, this official, open directive for a “permanent imperative of US foreign policy” reinforces what I wrote about institutional compliance with the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA). Despite Congress’ passage of the TRA in 1979, Reagan still considered it necessary to write the memo for the White House’s record to continue arms sales to Taiwan in response to China’s potential threat. The memo enables consistency in policy rather than Presidential whims affecting arms sales. Finally, the memo enhances strategic communication that counters China’s constant false narratives about the United States, Taiwan, and other countries. 

Countering China’s Blame on the US and Taiwan

China’s political warfare blames the United States and Taiwan, prompting corrections. Just before the memo’s declassification, China charged that the US sale of F-16V fighters violates the 1982 Communiqué. That document cited an intention of the United States to “reduce gradually its sales of arms to Taiwan, leading over a period of time to a final resolution.” However, US arms sales have not violated any agreement. Moreover, the US statement was premised on China’s foregoing statement in that Communiqué, reiterating a “fundamental policy to strive for a peaceful solution to the Taiwan question.” Indeed, the PRC’s increasing military threat betrays its promise in that Communiqué. 

On September 18, 2019, the Republic of China (ROC) (Taiwan)’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu used Twitter to publicize the newly declassified memo. Wu commented that “it is China’s own responsibility to STOP the military threat against Taiwan.”

Taiwan’s official Central News Agency (CNA) asserted that Reagan’s memo has justified US arms sales despite the US-PRC Communiqué of August 1982. At the end of its news story, CNA cryptically cited a hand-written note dated March 1, 1982, from Reagan.

Intriguingly but vaguely mysterious, Reagan wrote a single, straight-forward sentence: “We keep our promises to Taiwan—period.” I submit that Reagan’s earlier note was the prequel to his memo of August 17, 1982. Reagan wrote directives for US officials to assure Taipei.

Nonetheless, decades later, China’s increasing threat to Taiwan raises an issue about how it can maintain a favorable military balance. A salient question is how Taiwan assures the United States about shifting to asymmetric warfare for new ways of self-defense. 

Understanding the Context for Reagan’s Memo and its Prequel

What was the context for Reagan to feel compelled to sign his memo as the directive to interpret the Communiqué? Reagan started by stating that he agreed to the issuance of the Communiqué “in which we express United States policy toward the matter of continuing arms sales to Taiwan.” Reagan likely discerned that internal policy debates were raging and would continue to rage about whether to sustain arms sales.

Indeed, Reagan proved to be prescient about limitations in arms sales. In a CRS Report for Congress about the annual arms sales process for Taiwan, I wrote about a period from the early 1980s to 2001, in which the Executive Branch used arms sales talks only once a year and contrived “buckets” of values of annual arms sales calculated to show reductions from year to year. In 1999, some Members of Congress introduced the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act (not passed), criticizing that “pressures to delay, deny, and reduce arms sales to Taiwan have been prevalent since the signing of the August 17, 1982 Communiqué.” Starting in 2008, Congress raised concerns about Presidential “freezes” of arms sales in so-called “packages” to delay notifications to Congress.

According to Lilley, in the fall of 1981, Beijing started to pressure Washington for a new communiqué and a termination date for arms sales to Taipei. On one side were officials like Lilley, who knew Reagan’s strategic thinking and became the US representative in Taipei as the Director of AIT in January 1982. Lilley advocated for a balanced policy of strong relationships with both Beijing and Taipei to serve US interests in Asian stability and democratization. He countered against other officials whom he called “crusaders for the strategic relationship with China” at the Central Intelligence Agency and the Departments of Defense and State. By the spring of 1982, the State Department started to concede on arms sales despite the TRA. [2]

In this context, Lilley also played a part in the prequel of March 1, 1982. On the day before, a newspaper in Taiwan reported that Secretary of State Alexander Haig suggested that if China followed a peaceful policy toward Taiwan, then the United States could hold arms sales to levels below that of President Carter’s final year in office. On March 1, Taiwan’s government at the highest level sought clarification from AIT Director Lilley. He then asked Washington for assurances to answer Taipei’s leadership. The State Department’s message to Lilley (which included assurances about meeting Taiwan’s legitimate defense needs and sticking to the TRA) reached the Situation Room at the White House. As a result, Reagan wrote to National Security Advisor William Clark, “We keep our promises to Taiwan—period,” and signed “RR.” [3] When ROC (Taiwan) President Tsai Ing-wen stopped in Honolulu in March 2019, she viewed a photo exhibition at the East-West Center about the TRA that included a display about Reagan’s hand-written note (see display). 

On July 14, 1982, a month before the third Communiqué, Lilley indirectly passed President Reagan’s Six Assurances (including no date to end arms sales) to President Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) in Taipei. 

Why did Reagan sign his memo of August 17, 1982, along with issuing the Communiqué? Lilley recounted NSC aide Gaston Sigur’s explanation for Reagan’s reasoning: “The President felt that the communiqué hit him at the last minute. He didn’t like it, and his understanding of the communiqué was that if China were to become belligerent or build up power projection capability that brought insecurity or instability to the area, then the US would increase arms sales to Taiwan, regardless of what the communiqué said about quantity and quality conditions on arms sales.”

Continuing the Presidential Insistence on a Peaceful Resolution

President Reagan was consistent with President Nixon in countering China, continuing the US insistence on a peaceful resolution, and clarifying that the communiqués were not joint agreements. It can be somewhat misleading to cite the three US-PRC documents as “joint communiqués.” Indeed, in 1972, the United States did not even recognize the PRC but recognized the ROC in Taipei. 

As the President who issued the first US-PRC Communiqué on February 27, 1972, Nixon wrote right after the second Communiqué (on normalization) in 1979 to Chairman Lester Wolff of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs. Nixon pointed out that, “Dr. Kissinger and I had extensive discussions with Chairman Mao and Premier Chou En-lai on the Taiwan issue in 1972. We could not reach an agreement and consequently stated our positions separately in the Shanghai Communiqué. In that document, the US ‘reaffirmed’ its support of a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan issue. I consider that to be an unequivocal moral commitment.”

Significantly, with salience for persistent policy debates, Nixon understood the strategic implication for US security interests beyond Taiwan. Nixon’s letter to Wolff also stressed that: “normalization of US relations with the PRC is indispensable in furthering our goal of building a structure of peace in Asia and the world. But at a time when US credibility as a dependable ally and friend is being questioned in a number of countries, it is also vitally important that the Taiwan issue be handled in a way which will reassure other nations—whether old friends, new friends, potential friends, or wavering friends—that it is safe to rely on America’s word and to be America’s friend.” As Wolff emphasizes Nixon’s point for current policy, “if the US abandons Taiwan, no ally will believe us.” [4]

The main point: Reagan’s memo and the prequel in his note continue to direct US policy and assure Taiwan. In turn, Taiwan remains obligated to give assurances about transforming its military for new asymmetric warfare to deter and defend against China’s growing threat. 

[1] James Lilley, China Hands (New York: Public Affairs, 2004); and author’s consultation with Lilley.
[2] James Lilley, China Hands (New York: Public Affairs, 2004).
[3] Author’s consultations, August-September 2019.
[4] Author’s consultations with Lester Wolff, including his letter from Nixon of February 14, 1979, and an in-person interview in September 2019.

October 5, 2019  Topic: Security  Blog Brand: The Buzz  

Taiwan Is Finally Getting 66 New F-16s—Should China Care?

Does it matter?

by David Axe Follow @daxe on Twitter

Key point: China's air force is far larger and advanced than Taiwan's.

Nearly a decade after first requesting them, the Taiwanese air force finally could get 66 new F-16 fighters to begin replacing some of its older fighter aircraft.

But the $8-billion fighter-acquisition, which the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump approved over strong objections from China, likely will do little to alter the overall balance of power across the Taiwan Strait.

China possesses hundreds of more modern fighters than Taiwan does. Sixty-six F-16s won’t change that. And Taipei already has begun to revamp its defensive strategy to de-emphasize the importance of conventional major weapons systems such as F-16s.

To counter China’s roughly 1,500 fighters, Taipei possesses around 400 fighters of its own including aging F-5s and Mirage 2000s, locally-made F-CK-1s and the survivors of 150 F-16As and Bs that the island country bought from the United States in 1992. In 2001 the Taiwanese government asked for 66 F-16Cs and Ds.10

The administration of then-U.S. president George W. Bush rejected the request. A decade later Pres. Barack Obama also turned down the proposed purchase. As a consolation, Obama’s administration agreed to upgrade Taiwan’s older F-16s to the new “F-16V” standard with improved sensors.

Now Taipei is getting new-build “Block 70” F-16s that essentially are identical to F-16Vs. These new fighters could replace the 50 or so Mirage 2000s as well as a couple dozen old F-5s, leaving Taiwan with a force of around 200 F-16s plus and around 120 F-CK-1s.

But the modernization occurs just as fighters are beginning to matter less to Taiwan’s defense strategy. Drew Thompson explained the strategy in a 2018 article for War on the Rocks.

“Last year, Taiwan’s chief of the general staff Adm. Lee Hsi-ming quietly proposed a revolutionary new approach to Taiwan’s defense, called the Overall Defense Concept,” Thompson wrote. “This new concept, if effectively implemented, could turn the tables and give Taiwan a fighting chance of preventing China from being able to take it by force.”


Taiwan’s new defense concept employs an asymmetric defense strategy, where Taiwan maximizes its defense advantages, and targets an invading force when it is at its weakest.

Whereas Taiwan’s previous strategy focused on fighting across the entire Taiwan Strait and defeating the enemy through attrition, the new concept divides Taiwan’s defense operations into two phases, both closer to Taiwan’s shores where the lines of communication are short and Taiwan’s forces can benefit from land-based air denial and more effective surveillance and reconnaissance.


The first phase is the decisive battle in the littoral, extending up to 100 kilometers from the island. Key capabilities at this phase will include sea mines, and large surface vessels equipped with Taiwan’s capable, domestically manufactured anti-ship cruise missiles, the Hsiung Feng 2 and 3.

Taiwan’s surface fleet includes larger vessels from the legacy force, such as French-built Lafayette-class frigates, U.S.-built Kidd-class destroyers, and U.S.-designed Perry-class frigates armed with both Hsiung Feng and Harpoon missiles, as well as a new class of fast attack Tuojiang class catamarans that carry 16 missiles. 

Taiwan also fields anti-ship Hsiung Feng missiles mounted on trucks that will disperse in order to survive initial strikes. While evading detection in Taiwan’s urban and mountainous terrain, they will launch strikes at surface ships throughout an invasion.

The second phase seeks to annihilate the enemy at the beach area, which extends approximately 40 kilometers outwards from anticipated invasion beaches. This phase calls for Taiwan’s navy to lay mines in deep and shallow waters off suspected landing beaches. A new fleet of automated, fast minelaying ships are being built for that mission. In the interim, mine-launching rails can be installed on several classes of surface vessels.

While invading ships are slowed by minefields, swarms of small fast attack boats and truck-launched anti-ship cruise missiles will target key ships in the invasion force, particularly amphibious landing ships carrying the initial wave of [People’s Liberation Army] assault troops as well as roll-on, roll-off vessels carrying follow-on vehicles and armor.

The Taiwan army comes into play at this phase, laying beach mines, and targeting enemy ships with precision fires, including minesweepers. Precision artillery will target any vessels and troops reaching shore, using area-effects weapons such as indigenously built multiple-launch rocket systems with cluster munitions and attack helicopters including AH-64E Apaches.

The Taiwan air force will seek to deny Chinese fighters, bombers and drones from Taiwan’s battlespace by deploying integrated air defenses, including Patriot PAC-3 batteries and domestically manufactured Tian Kung-2 surface to air missiles that are assigned to defend air bases and critical infrastructure, and smaller mobile air defense systems, such as U.S.-provided Avenger systems to prevent the PLA Air Force from providing close-in air support to their invading forces.

Fighters arguably are the least important system for this new strategy, although they could play an important role firing anti-ship missiles at Chinese invasion ships, according to Thompson. It’s likely, however, that few planes will survive China’s initial bombardment of Taiwanese airfield. “PLA strikes … will devastate Taiwan’s airbases.”

Indeed, Taiwan’s fighters “will primarily serve a deterrent role defending Taiwan’s airspace in peacetime,” Thompson asserted. “The air force will make its wartime contributions with mobile air defenses, small drones and maintaining critical infrastructure to enable a joint defense.”

Taiwan is finally getting its new F-16s. Right at the moment they’re ceasing to matter.

David Axe serves as Defense Editor of the National Interest. He is the author of the graphic novels  War Fix, War Is Boring and Machete Squad. This first appeared in August 2019.

​U.S. congressmen call for Taiwan's inclusion in ICAO

2019/09/25 11:56:45

Focus Taiwan

Washington, Sept. 24 (CNA) American congressmen have called on their government to push harder for Taiwan's inclusion in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), arguing that Taiwan's absence endangers millions of travelers who pass through Taiwan's air space annually.

A bipartisan group of 41 congressman made the appeal in a letter initiated by U.S. Congressman Steve Chabot, the co-chair of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus, and addressed to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao.

It calls on the Trump administration to do more to advocate Taiwan's participation as an observer to the ICAO, which is currently holding its triennial week-long assembly at its headquarters in Montreal.

The letter was similar to appeals made by the U.S. Congress in the past to support Taiwan's participation in international organizations, which has generally been blocked by China.

In the most recent letter, issued Tuesday, the congressmen said Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration exclusively administers the Taipei Flight Information Region (FIR), which served 1.75 million flights and 68.9 million passengers in 2018.

The Taipei FIR is also home to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, the 11th busiest airport in the world in terms of international passenger traffic and the fifth busiest for international air freight traffic, it said.

"We believe excluding Taiwan from ICAO deliberations on topics ranging from aviation security to economic issues delays the implementation of ICAO regulations and prevents the seamless integration of the Taipei FIR into Asia's civil aviation architecture," the letter said.

Taiwan's exclusion further "jeopardizes the proper formulation of changes to this architecture by failing to consider the needs and perspectives of Taiwan's regulators," it said.

The letter referred to the fact that Taiwan participated in the ICAO Assembly's 2013 session as a special guest of the ICAO Council president. Under Chinese pressure, however, Taiwan failed to receive a similar invitation in both 2016 and this year.

The congressmen criticized Beijing for its "self-serving foreign policy" that "not only deprives the international community of Taiwan's contributions but also endangers the millions of travelers who pass through the Taipei FIR annually."

Stressing that aviation safety must not be a political issue, the congressmen called upon Pompeo and Chao to pay closer attention to the matter as the ICAO holds its assembly.

Echoing a G7 foreign minister communique issued in April, which supported Taiwan's ICAO participation, the congressmen said they too support the substantive participation of all active members of the international aviation community in ICAO forums, adding that excluding some for political purposes compromises aviation safety and security.

"We believe that the United States and like-minded countries should work to make this aspiration a reality," the letter concluded.

Taiwan's representative office in the U.S. thanked the U.S. Congress for its longstanding bipartisan support for Taiwan's participation in international organizations.

The ICAO is a United Nations body responsible for establishing worldwide aviation policies, with the ICAO Assembly serving as the organization's sovereign body that meets once every three years.

Though not a member of the U.N., self-governed Taiwan has sought to take part in the activities of U.N.-affiliated organizations but faced major Chinese obstruction.

The last time Taiwan attended the ICAO Assembly was in 2013, when it was represented by Shen Chi (沈啟), then director-general of the CAA under the previous Kuomintang (KMT) administration that was relatively friendly with Beijing.

That marked Taipei's first representation at the ICAO assembly since losing its seat at the U.N. to Beijing in 1971.

Cross-Taiwan Strait relations have cooled since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office on May 20, 2016, and opposition from Beijing was widely believed to be the main reason behind the ICAO's decision not to invite Taiwan that year.

Beijing has taken a hardline stance on cross-strait relations because Tsai has refused to accept the "1992 consensus," a tacit understanding reached in 1992 between the then-ruling KMT government of Taiwan and the Chinese government.

Under the consensus, both sides of the Taiwan Strait acknowledge that there is only "one China," with each side free to interpret what "China" means, according to the KMT's interpretation. However, Beijing has never publicly recognized the second part of that formula.

(By Stacy Hsu and Joseph Yeh)

Taiwan takes comprehensive approach to keeping remaining allies: MOFA

2019/09/26 22:45:52

Focus Taiwan

Taipei, Sept. 25 (CNA) Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Thursday that it will take a comprehensive approach to retaining diplomatic allies amid a warning from the National Security Council (NSC) that Taiwan could lose another two more allies to China before the end of this year.

Taiwan lost two diplomatic allies in the Pacific region -- the Solomon Islands and Kiribati -- last week to China, leaving the nation with only 15 diplomatic allies worldwide, four of them in the Pacific region.

"China will resort to any means to interfere in Taiwan's 2020 elections and to further suppress Taiwan in the international community," the NSC said in a report released Wednesday. The report further warned that Beijing could persuade another one or two countries to switch sides before the end of the year.

Speaking at a press conference, MOFA spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said that the government is looking into every possible scenario and will do everything possible to keep its allies, because Taiwan cherishes its friendships with them.

Ou did not reply directly when asked which among the remaining diplomatic allies the NSC was referring to when it said one or two could cut ties, adding only that the NSC has undertaken a comprehensive assessment and MOFA is doing the same.

She stressed that MOFA takes a comprehensive approach in consolidating Taiwan's relations with its 15 diplomatic allies and does not focus on particular allies or regions.

Meanwhile, MOFA expressed appreciation to Nauru's newly elected President Lionel Aingimea for his support of his country's relations with Taiwan.

Aingimea issued a statement on Thursday describing Taiwan as "a good partner" that brought great benefits to the people of Nauru by working closely with the country in many sectors over the years.

"Nauru considers its relationship with Taiwan as that of family and we stand with Taiwan in upholding democratic values and the rule of law," Aingimea affirmed.

A source familiar with Taiwan's diplomatic affairs revealed that Aingimea is planning to visit Taiwan this year.

However, another source said MOFA is formulating a more comprehensive strategy because it now considers all remaining diplomatic allies as possible targets of China.

He observed that by poaching two allies in such quick succession, China adopted a different approach to the past and that caused alarm in the international community.

It shows the Chinese leadership is under tremendous internal and external pressure such as the trade war with the U.S. and the Hong Kong protests as China's Oct. 1 National Day draws nearer, he said.

The source also said MOFA is planning to reinforce its diplomatic staff in Taiwan's remaining diplomatic allies and will evaluate the competency of diplomats based in those countries.

(By Elaine Hou and Emerson Lim)

Taiwan steps into trade war breach for US, saying it will buy US$3.6 billion in American agricultural products

The rising tension between Beijing and Washington has helped Taipei, as the US Congress and Trump administration move to strengthen ties with Taiwan
A letter of intent for the sale will be signed next week in Washington, signalling the apparent political as well as economic dimension to the purchase

Mark Magnier  

Published: 6:25am, 12 Sep, 2019

South China Morning Post

In a bid to drive home the message that Taiwan is a reliable US partner at a time of deep and growing distrust between Beijing and Washington, Taipei has announced plans to buy US$3.6 billion worth of American farm products, including soybeans, corn, wheat and meat products. This follows the imposition by Beijing of up to 25 per cent tariffs on US grains in the tit-for-tat trade war involving the world’s two largest economies.

Taiwan said that during a trade mission led by Chen Junne-Jih, Taiwan's deputy minister of agriculture, a letter of intent would be signed next week with US grain and meat exporters. The venue chosen for the signing, the Congressional Visitor Centre in Washington, a gathering place for tourists visiting Congress, signals the apparent political as well as economic dimension to the purchase.

“While the US-China relationship is deeply trapped by a trade dispute, Taiwan instead has been a trustworthy trading partner of the US and is taking substantial action to enhance a closer US-Taiwan economic cooperation,” the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the US, Taiwan’s de facto American embassy, said in a statement.

US farmers welcomed the deal but said it was small potatoes compared with China, which bought US$19.6 billion in American agricultural products in 2017 before the start of the trade war, including more than US$10 billion in soybeans.

“It’s good, obviously good; we need all the help we can get,” said Mike Appert, who grows soy, corn, sunflower and edible beans on his massive farm in Hazelton, North Dakota. “But we need to get back to business with China. We’re just trying to survive and hang in there.”US takes further steps towards F-16 sale to Taiwan

The Chinese embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the deal.

Agriculture has played a starring role in the year-long trade showdown. In an early response to a series of US taxes on Chinese imports, Beijing in April 2018 imposed tariffs of up to 25 per cent on 128 US products, including pork, soybeans and other farm products, knowing that much of US President Donald Trump’s political support is in heavily Republican rural areas.

A month later, in one of the showdown’s many false starts, Trump tweeted that “China has agreed to buy massive amounts of ADDITIONAL Farm/Agricultural Products” before acknowledging that this was contingent on reaching a deal that never came.

Seven months later, Trump announced that China was buying a “tremendous amount” of US soybeans. And in June he said that “China is going to be buying a tremendous amount of food and agricultural product, and they're going to start that very soon, almost immediately”, with little evidence of any such purchasing activity.

The tension between Beijing and Washington – which has morphed to affect visas, education, scientific exchanges and investment policies – has helped Taipei. Amid growing suspicion in Washington of Beijing’s economic ambitions, espionage activities and intellectual property theft, Congress and the Trump administration have strengthened their ties with Taiwan, a self-governing island that Beijing views as a rogue province.

In recent months, the administration has approved higher-level official contact between US and Taiwanese officials than at any time in the recent past – Beijing bridles at any such contact. In July it allowed President Tsai Ing-wen to take extended “layovers” in New York and Denver lasting several days on her trip to visit Caribbean allies. Also in July, the US agreed to a US$2 billion deal to sell tanks and missiles to Taiwan, then in August agreed to a US$8 billion sale of F-16 fighter jets, the first such agreement since 1992.

Why Trump’s record-breaking trade aid for farmers could fail

As the outlook has worsened for American farmers heavily dependent on Chinese markets, the Trump administration has doled out US$16 billion to farmers to compensate them for the losses.

Taiwan was the eighth largest market for US agricultural products in per capita terms in 2018, according to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office.

Apparently in a move to improve the atmosphere in advance of a possible resumption of US-China trade talks in mid-October, Beijing this week said it would exempt 16 US products from retaliatory tariffs. These included some varieties of animal feed such as alfalfa and fish meal, although China did not relent on big-ticket agricultural products such as soybeans and corn that are causing the most pain in the US farm belt.

August 16, 2019 

McCaul, Engel Statement on F-16 Sales to Taiwan

Washington, D.C. – House Foreign Affairs Committee Lead Republican Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Chairman Eliot Engel (D-NY) made the following statement regarding the sale of F-16s to Taiwan:

“The sale of F-16s to Taiwan sends a strong message about the U.S. commitment to security and democracy in the Indo-Pacific. As leaders of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, we are pleased the Administration is moving forward with this sale and have every confidence that it will be supported on a bipartisan and bicameral basis. As the PRC steps up its military aggression in the region, we need to do all we can to support our friends around the world. Following our meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen in New York last month, we know this sale will underscore our deep and enduring partnership with Taiwan. Further, it will help deter China as they threaten our strategic partner Taiwan and its democratic system of government.”

Assessing the Congressional Intent of the Taiwan Relations Act

By: Shirley Kan

August 14, 2019

Global Taiwan Brief

Shirley Kan is an independent specialist in Asian security affairs whose service for the US government has included working for Congress at the non-partisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) from 1990 to 2015. She is a founding member of GTI’s advisory board.

Through 2019, the United States and Taiwan are commemorating the 40th anniversary of the enactment of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) in April 1979. Without the benefit of hindsight, Congress was brilliant in crafting the legislation that has governed policy concerning Taiwan. Nonetheless, issues have persisted, including whether the law obligated arms sales or assistance to defend Taiwan and whether the TRA precluded military and other official contacts. An issue has been whether policy deviated from the law, and if so, how to reset policy. The Congressional intent is critical to ensure that policy is carried out into the future in adherence to the TRA.

While it sounds braggadocious for Congress, it was brilliant in crafting the TRA that has enjoyed bipartisan support, seen implementation by successive presidents, and promoted US and international interests under changing conditions for a prosperous and free Taiwan. [1] As an economic and security partner, Taiwan has contributed to the rules-based order. Taiwan uniquely has shown a better path of democracy for people in Chinese-speaking societies.

Nonetheless, important issues have persisted about the TRA. Clarity about the congressional intent helps to understand the TRA’s political and legal obligations in policy. It is crucial to ensure that policy has institutional compliance with the TRA, not subject to presidential or other individual whims. Congressional oversight and other actions continue to be critical, especially in any differences between the president and Congress over how to implement policy. Misperceptions could be dangerous in undermining stability. For example, it is a misperception that high-level military and other official visits are inconsistent with US policy. Since the first cabinet-rank visit to Taiwan after 1979 (US Trade Representative Carla Hills’ visit in 1992), long gaps in senior official visits blow them out of proportion.

How Would US Policy Adhere to the TRA’s Congressional Intent? 

(1) As P.L. 96-8, the TRA needs to regain the premier place in policy. The Foreign Relations Authorization Act for FY1994-FY1995 (P.L. 103-236) declared that Section 3 of the TRA (i.e., on arms sales) takes primacy over statements (i.e., the Joint Communiqué of 1982 with the People’s Republic of China, or PRC). Sometimes, officials including the secretary of state have failed to cite the TRA in referring only to the US “One-China” policy and the three US-PRC Joint Communiqués. The State Department‘s so-called “fact sheet” on Taiwan (dated August 2018) started by referring to the Joint Communiqué of 1979 then later cited the TRA. Congress saw improvement in David Stilwell‘s statement of March 2019 to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for his nomination as assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs. Familiar with Taiwan, Stilwell rightfully referred first to the TRA, then the Communiqués.

(2) It is not an egregious violation of policy to call Taiwan a country. Section 4(b)1 required that references to foreign countries in US laws “shall” apply to Taiwan. Under domestic laws, the United States treats Taiwan as a country, despite the lack of diplomatic recognition of the Republic of China (ROC). In 2012, Taiwan became the 37th country to join the Department of Homeland Security’s Visa Waiver Program. In November 2018, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo referred to Taiwan among eight countries given temporary allotments to import oil from Iran. In June 2019, the Defense Department‘s Indo-Pacific Strategy Report used “countries” in referring to Mongolia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Taiwan. This word is not a change in US diplomacy but is common-sense language in recognition of realities of official ties with a democratic country. In July, the administration formally notified Congress in a normalized process of proposed arms sales to Taiwan of M1A2T Abrams tanks, Stinger air defense missiles, and enhanced TOW 2B and Javelin anti-armor missiles. These programs, not a “package,” are government-to-government Foreign Military Sales (FMS).

(3) The TRA expected a peaceful process but not any particular outcome for the question of Taiwan. The TRA even did not discuss the “One-China” policy. US policy has been premised on Taiwan’s unsettled status. The Communiqués showed US-PRC differences. Section 2(b)(3) stated the US expectation that the future of Taiwan “will be determined” by peaceful means. US policy does not support Taiwan’s independence, as the State Department’s anodyne “fact sheet” noted. Nonetheless, non-support is neutral and does not necessarily mean opposition.

Lester Wolff, a representative who managed the legislation as the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs, has explained that Congress did not attempt to determine Taiwan’s destiny, except to support self-determination for its people. [2] Wolff has stressed in interviews with me up to 2019 that the congressional intent is important because of the TRA’s ambiguity. [3] Congress wanted to ensure Taiwan’s viability, regardless of the US “One-China” policy. Congress sought to protect Taiwan’s integrity and its people’s ability to govern themselves (de facto independence), so that they are not put under the PRC’s autocratic, communist rule. Wolff has emphasized that Taiwan’s people should have faith in the United States.

(4) The TRA did not characterize the bilateral relationship as unofficial or official. The State Department’s so-called “fact sheet” has been wrong and unrealistic to claim that the TRA “provides the legal basis for the unofficial relationship between the United States and Taiwan […].” In fact, Section 2(b)(1) declared that it is US policy “to preserve and promote extensive, close, and friendly commercial, cultural, and other relations between the people of the United States and the people on Taiwan, as well as the people on the China mainland and all other peoples of the Western Pacific area.” Congress objected to use of “unofficial” for the relationship. Wolff has confirmed that the TRA did not call the relationship “unofficial,” while stressing that “indeed, the TRA is official policy passed by Congress.” The TRA allowed ambiguity.

Thus, the TRA is not an excuse to limit military and other official engagement. Relaxing or removing restrictions on contacts with Taiwan’s officials would reset policy in compliance with the TRA’s stipulation to promote this relationship. An important option is to change the State Department’s policy of self-imposed restrictions on contacts between the executive branch and Taiwan’s officials that can be counter-productive for communication and cooperation. Senior officials on both sides have pursued direct communication instead of the American Institute in Taiwan chairman’s indirect, inadequate interventions. The Taiwan Assurance Act (S. 878, H.R. 2002) would require the president to review the State Department’s Guidelines on Relations with Taiwan as a part of that policy.

(5) The TRA called for the pursuit of parallel ties with Taipei and Beijing. As seen in the latter language of Section 2(b)(1) above, the TRA was not anti-China. The TRA did not promote ties with Taipei as a tool to deal with Beijing. On the eve of switching US diplomatic recognition from the ROC to the PRC, some members of Congress visited the PRC in the second half of 1978. In July 1978, an important congressional delegation led by Wolff met with PRC paramount leader Deng Xiaoping, who gave an assurance about respecting Taiwan’s reality in working toward a peaceful resolution, but without renouncing the possible use of force.

(6) While the TRA provided for a legal and political obligation to assist Taiwan’s self-defense, the law did not require in advance that the United States “shall” help to defend Taiwan. Section 2(b)(6) stipulated that it is policy to maintain the US capacity to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social or economic system, of people on Taiwan. Nonetheless, Congress did not intend necessarily to avoid helping to defend Taiwan. According to Wolff, the TRA is not an absolute guarantee for Taiwan’s defense, because Congress intended to subject any future decision on an act of war to action by Congress, not the president. [4] Senator Jacob Javits explained that Congress did not seek to reconstruct a defense agreement with Taiwan. Still, Congress considered broad threats. [5] The TRA cited coercion as well as force, because China could apply an embargo or other coercion short of military force.

(7) It follows that the TRA embodied an expectation of Taiwan’s self-defense. Section 3(a) stated that the United States will 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. The TRA entailed mutual obligations in security, as Wolff confirmed. The TRA did not mean a US-only obligation but expected Taiwan to maintain its self-defense. [6]

(8) Section 3(a)’s language also provided the legal and political obligation for arms sales to Taiwan but did not require that such assistance “shall” be offered. Relatedly, Section 2(b)(5) stipulated policy to provide Taiwan with arms of a “defensive character.” This phrase has been misconstrued to delay or deny approvals for weapons systems, even though weapons cannot be simplistically labeled as offensive or defensive and Taiwan’s military strategy is inherently defensive against China’s threats. As a representative who led the congressional debate on arms sales, Wolff has stated the expectation that they involve “state-of-the-art defense equipment.” [7]

(9) Congress intended that China has no role in determining defense equipment or its quality or quantity to be offered to Taiwan, Wolff confirmed. [8] Not simply a statement of policy, Section 3(b) required that the president and Congress “shall determine” the nature and quantity of defense articles and services “based solely” upon their judgment of Taiwan’s needs. However, past administrations did not adhere always to normal decision-making based solely on Taiwan’s defense needs, for example, by withholding notifications to Congress of FMS in so-called “packages” out of considerations for China.

The main point: It behooves policymakers in Washington to adhere to the TRA’s congressional intent to promote a normal partnership with Taipei in parallel with dealing with Beijing. The TRA’s ambiguity allows for flexibility in engagement with Taiwan, contrary to the State Department’s claim of “unofficial” ties to excuse self-imposed restrictions on contacts.

[1] At a hearing in October 2011 of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell called the TRA one of the most important acts of “legislative leadership” and foreign policy in US history.
[2] Lester Wolff, Jon Holstine, and John Brady III, A Legislative History of the Taiwan Relations Act, Vol. 4. (Arlington, VA: Pacific Community Institute, 2004).
[3] This article’s references to views of Lester Wolff are based on the author’s interviews by phone and in person, March 2017 to February 2019.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Jacob Javits, “Congress and Foreign Relations: the Taiwan Relations Act,” Foreign Affairs (Fall 1981).
[6] The Defense Department issued a speech at the annual US-Taiwan defense industry conference in 2005 in San Diego, stressing that “under the TRA, the US is obligated to ‘enable’ Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense, but the reality is, it is Taiwan that is obligated to have a sufficient self-defense.”
[7] This article’s references to views of Lester Wolff are based on the author’s interviews by phone and in person, March 2017 to February 2019.
[8] Ibid.

​Saint Vincent Prime Minister officially opens embassy in Taiwan

2019/08/08 19:30:51

Focus Taiwan

Taipei, Aug. 8 (CNA) Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), one of Taiwan's diplomatic allies in the Caribbean, formally opened an embassy in Taipei on Thursday, signifying the strengthening of relations between the two countries amid difficulties faced by Taipei in the international political arena.

The embassy of Saint Vincent, located in the Diplomatic Quarter in Shilin District of Taipei, was opened by Saint Vincent Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves at a ceremony attended by Taiwan's Vice President Chen Chien-Jen (陳建仁), Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) and other dignitaries.

This is the country's fifth embassy overseas, the other four being located in Washington D.C., Havana, Caracas and Brussels. Gonsalves announced the establishment of an embassy in Taipei shortly before President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) visited the Caribbean state in July.

At present, about 130 Vincentians live in Taiwan, mostly students; on the other hand, Taiwanese in Saint Vincent are predominantly diplomats and members of technical missions.

Officials from both governments lauded the establishment of the Saint Vincent embassy in Taipei.

"I believe bilateral relations between the two countries will be deepened and Vincentians in Taiwan will be taken better care of," Chen said during his remarks, after expressing appreciation of Kingstown's efforts to "overcome difficulties" in opening an embassy in Taiwan.

"The establishment of an embassy in Taipei by Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is a manifestation of the process of maturation of the excellent relations which exist between the Republic of China Taiwan and SVG," Gonsalves said.

Andrea Bowman, a career educator and president of the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Autism Society, is the first ambassador to Taiwan while Elroy Wilson, also an educator and a foreign service officer, is her deputy.

"The establishment of this embassy is a tangible indication of the commitment and trust shared by our nations," Bowman said, describing the embassy as "a new home in a space where it feels a sense of belonging."

"One does not establish a home if one intends to move on the following year," she added, reaffirming Taiwan-Saint Vincent relations.

Taipei and Kingstown established diplomatic relations in August 1981. Over the years, the two countries have maintained close cooperation in economics, agriculture, health and medicine, infrastructure and education. Kingstown has also supported Taiwan's bid for international participation by speaking out at different venues.

However, the opening of an SVG embassy in Taiwan is considered long overdue by some, as Taipei's embassy in Kingstown was opened in 1983.

"It has been long planned," Gonsalves told CNA on the sideline of the event, adding that the plan was delayed several times "due to circumstances," citing his country's efforts to vie for a seat on the 10-member United Nations Security Council for a two year stint as a non-permanent member, which it secured in June.

Prior to the establishment of its embassy in Taipei, Kingstown handled bilateral affairs and took care of its nationals in Taiwan through an honorary consul and sometimes with the help of Saint Kitts and Nevis' mission in Taiwan.

The responsibilities were later assumed by Peggy Carr, a Vincentian resident in Taiwan, whose efforts were recognized by Gonsalves on Thursday.

The new embassy comes at a time when Beijing is stepping up its suppression of Taiwan's participation in international events. Since Tsai took office in 2016, five diplomatic allies -- Sao Tome and Principe, Panama, Dominican Republic, Burkina Faso and El Salvador -- have severed diplomatic tie with Taipei and switched to Beijing.

Currently, the new leadership of the Solomon Islands, one of Taiwan's six Pacific allies, is reportedly re-evaluating relations after winning a general election in April. 

(By Emerson Lim)

Taiwan’s president is planning another stopover in the US. China will be infuriated


UPDATED FRI, JUL 19 2019  2:52 AM EDT


Taiwan’s president is expected to transit in the U.S. on Friday for the second time this month, when she returns from visiting diplomatic allies in the Caribbean — a move that will make China very angry.

Tsai Ing-wen, the island’s pro-independence leader, is due to make her second stopover in Denver on Friday.

“China opposes official exchange between the US and Taiwan. This position is firm and clear,” the Chinese foreign ministry said on July 12. The U.S. should not to allow Tsai’s transit and must “stop the official exchange with Taiwan,” said Geng Shuang, spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry.

The visit comes on the heels of the U.S. State Department recently approving a $2.2 billion sale of weapons to Taiwan— a self-ruled island viewed by Beijing as a breakaway province that has no right to state-to-state ties.

The timing of both is significant and reflects a “much higher risk tolerance from the Donald Trump administration when it comes to growing U.S.-Taiwan ties, ” said Kelsey Broderick, China analyst at the Eurasia Group, a risk consultancy.

The U.S. State Department sought to downplay Tsai’s visit, describing it as“private and unofficial.”

Earlier in July, Tsai transited through New York — another major U.S. city — when she was on her way to the Caribbean. That visit saw her meeting members of the U.S. Congress as well as representatives from Taiwan’s 17 remaining diplomatic allies, and speaking at Columbia University. She also addressed a 1,000-strong crowd of supporters, according to the Taipei Times.

Her visits come at a low point in U.S.-China relations. In addition to sparring over trade, the world’s two biggest economies are also at loggerheads over Taiwan.

Washington’s ties with the self-ruled island are technically unofficial. But under the Taiwan Relations Act, “the United States shall provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character.”The arms sale and Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen’s stopover trip to the United States this week are a challenge that Xi felt he needed to respond to.

The U.S. is the main supplier of arms to Taiwan, which has its own democratically elected government and will be buying tanks, missiles and other military equipment as part of the latest deal.

Beijing has never renounced the use of force against Taiwan and has been ramping up aggressive rhetoric toward the island in a renewed push for reunification, since the two territories were split amid a civil war 70 years ago.

In a speech at the start of the year, Chinese President Xi Jinping emphasized the need for peaceful “reunification” between China and Taiwan. He said the “one country, two systems” framework — with which Beijing governs Hong Kong, a Chinese special administrative region — was the best way for Taiwan.

Xi’s comments triggered a strong response from Tsai, who vowed: “Taiwan absolutely will not accept ‘one country, two systems.’”

Tsai’s expressed defiance against that model of autonomy turned her waning popularity around and helped secure a win in her party’s presidential primary.

Beijing’s response

Taiwan is the most significant and sensitive issue in U.S.-China relations, the Chinese foreign ministry has previously said.

After the U.S. announced its arms deal, China issued a stern warning.

“We urge the US ... to cancel this arms sale immediately and stop military ties with Taiwan to prevent further damage to China-U.S. relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” said Geng, the spokesman for the ministry, on July 9.

Beijing also threatened to retaliate, and vowed to impose sanctions on U.S. firms selling arms to Taiwan.

“If China follows through on sanctioning the US companies involved in the arms sale, it will be the first time it has taken this kind of action,” the Eurasia Group said. “In the past, China has punished Taiwan for arms sales from the US, while threatening action against the US but keeping actual penalties informal and discreet.”Beijing needs Taiwan’s major semiconductor companies to continue supplying to Chinese companies.
Kelsey Broderick

The overall impact of sanctions on the U.S. corporate sector will probably be modest but “this is still a very significant action,” said Broderick and her colleague, Michael Hirson.

“It shows the degree to which Taiwan is the most sensitive issue for Xi Jinping, ” Eurasia Group said. “The arms sale and Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen’s stopover trip to the United States this week are a challenge that Xi felt he needed to respond to.”

Importance of Taiwan

Beijing has so far withheld from harsher actions on Taiwan directly, perhaps out if fear that the move could backfire and instead, bolster support for Tsai, who is seeking a second term in January elections.

The Taiwan market has also become increasingly important to China as it suffers from the ongoing U.S.-China trade conflict, wrote Broderick in a separate note.

“Beijing needs Taiwan’s major semiconductor companies to continue supplying to Chinese companies and has stepped up its offering of tax and other residential benefits to Taiwan entrepreneurs who shift operations to the mainland,” she added. This is especially important since Chinese tech giant Huawei has been placed on a U.S. blacklist, a move that effectively blocks the company from doing business with U.S. companies — even though the restrictions were eventually eased.

And while Beijing desires a trade deal with Washington, it is not so critical to Xi that he is willing to bend on sensitive issues such as Taiwan’s independence, said the Eurasia analysts.

“Trump’s tariff hikes and especially the U.S. export ban on Huawei has heightened nationalist sentiment in China and made Beijing more skeptical that a deal will bring a lasting ebb in tensions,” they added.

— Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

​America’s Stake in Taiwan

Forty years ago, China wasn’t a global menace. It is now. U.S. policy on Taiwan needs to catch up.By 

Seth Cropsey

Wall Street Journal

June 18, 2019 6:33 pm ET

In Hong Kong, hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets to protest a bill permitting the arbitrary arrest and extradition of citizens to mainland China. Hong Kongers were assured in 1997 that they would enjoy a “high degree” of autonomy when the British transferred the colony back to China. That “high degree” is dropping lower and lower.

Five hundred miles northeast, in Taipei, the Taiwanese are watching the dispute closely. For them it foreshadows what “reunification” with China would look like. And for the U.S., it’s a picture of what lies ahead if we leave a strategic democratic ally at the mercy of East Asia’s Stalinist giant.

Taiwan—an island nation 100 miles off China’s coast, formally called the Republic of China—was founded in 1949 by Chinese opponents of the Communist revolution. Its history of peaceful transfers of power between opposing political parties is a standing reproach to China’s dictatorship. So is its wealth—Taiwan’s gross domestic product per capita is 250% as large as China’s.

China’s leaders fear and detest Taiwan, in large measure because it’s an American ally. In the event of an attack on Taiwan by a hostile nation (read: China), the U.S. is pledged to aid its ally. Failure to fulfill that pledge would effectively encourage other regional allies such as South Korea and Japan to make accommodations with Beijing. That would be an unmitigated disaster: Control of Taiwan would allow Beijing to menace Japan’s southwest islands and the U.S. Marine base on Okinawa, to enforce its wrongful claim to the South China Sea.

In 1979 the Carter administration, furthering Richard Nixon’s policy of driving a wedge between Soviet Russia and China, formally recognized the Communist People’s Republic. Unfortunately, that meant closing the U.S. Embassy in Taiwan. The U.S. formally endorsed Beijing’s slogan, “one country, two systems,” declaring democratic Taiwan to be, in effect, a subsidiary of mainland China.

President Carter abandoned the U.S.’s mutual defense treaty with Taiwan and agreed to measures to increase American diplomatic and security engagement with China at Taiwan’s expense. He left the Republic of China with a small promise of help, signing the Taiwan Relations Act, which Congress passed—by a veto-proof majority—to ensure U.S. military assistance for Taiwan’s self-defense.

In the 40 years since that shift, American policy toward Taiwan has remained largely the same. But America’s relationship with China has changed radically. The Soviet Union is no more; the Nixon/Carter strategy is largely irrelevant. In recent years, President Xi Jinping has adopted aggressive and militaristic policies. It’s time for the U.S. to update its approach to Taiwan.

China is a key U.S. trading partner, but no friend. It rejects U.S. political principles and resents America’s role as a guarantor of international security in the Indo-Pacific region and globally. Beijing aims to exclude the U.S. Navy from the international waters of the Western Pacific and to sever American communications with its regional allies. China wants military predominance over the chain of islands that bracket the Asian mainland and stretch from the Aleutians to the Philippines. Taiwan, America’s 11th-largest trading partner, is at the center of this chain.

At present, the U.S. truckles to Chinese policy on Taiwan. The U.S. does not allow the four-star admiral who commands the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command to visit Taiwan. It does not permit Taiwan’s navy to take part in the U.S.-led annual naval exercise in the Pacific—although we have twice invited China to participate. Taiwan’s top political leaders are forbidden from traveling to Washington. U.S. executive-branch officials refuse to visit the Taiwan delegation’s Washington offices.

The list of indignities is much longer, and unworthy of the relationship between two democratic allies. The need to remake U.S. policy toward Taiwan has long been obvious. In military or naval terms, it would be difficult to overstate Taiwan’s geographical importance.

Mr. Xi says force is an option for “reunification” of Taiwan with China. Yearly he adds to China’s already formidable arsenal of missiles aimed at Taiwan. Experts debate when Mr. Xi plans to use force against the island. Will it be in 2049, the 100th anniversary of China’s Communist takeover—or in 2020?

The U.S. is now conducting more-frequent freedom-of-navigation operations in the South China Sea and lengthening the range of its antiship missiles to contest control of the seas. Taiwan is building its own submarines. Japan is acquiring more amphibious capability, essential to defending its southwest islands, a short distance from Taiwan. China’s navy must pass through those islands to enter the main body of the Pacific.

Beijing would like to roll up both the northern and southern arcs of the First Island Chain (the chain of archipelagoes nearest the East Asian continental mainland), to cut America’s ability to supply its East Asian allies, and to have unchallenged access to the central Pacific—from which it could put at risk the major U.S. base at Guam, attack Hawaii, and cut America’s communications with Australia.

National security adviser John Bolton was right to meet with David Lee, general secretary of Taiwan’s National Security Council, late in May. No such meeting had occurred for 40 years. It would be wise to open the way for presidential and senior cabinet members’ meetings and visits to each other’s capitals. Other overdue changes: joint U.S.-Taiwan military exercises, an operations center allowing coordination of exercises and emergencies, and a substantial upgrade of diplomatic relations. All this would clarify America’s commitment to Taiwan, reducing the likelihood of Chinese overreach through miscalculation. A realistic policy review would also allow the Trump administration’s sale of more than 60 F-16 tactical fighters to proceed without further delay. They are sorely needed to improve Taiwan’s defenses against invasion.

We are living in a new world—the world of attempted Chinese hegemony—and U.S. policy makers had better adjust, fast. Ask the people on the streets of Hong Kong.

Mr. Cropsey is director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for American Seapower and a former deputy undersecretary of the Navy.

Appeared in the June 19, 2019, print edition.

​Taiwan Strengthens US Ties With De Facto Embassy’s Name Change

May 27, 2019 


TAIPEI, Taiwan—Relations between Washington and Taipei have elevated to a level not seen in decades, reflected in a name change of the Taiwan government’s de facto organization for handling Taiwan-U.S. relations.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced the name change on its official Twitter account on May 25, saying that the embassy will now be called the Taiwan Council for US Affairs (TCUSA); it had been known as the Coordination Council for North American Affairs (CCNAA).

“This marks the first time the terms ‘Taiwan’ and the ‘United States’ appear in equal footing on the name of an organization together,” Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen said in an announcement. “This manifests the close relationship enjoyed by the U.S. and Taiwan and the level of trust between the two.”

The United States currently has no formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan; Washington changed its diplomatic recognition in favor of Beijing in January 1979.

China considers itself the only legitimate “republic,” claiming Taiwan as a renegade province, despite the latter being a de facto independent country with democratically elected officials and a separate constitution, military, and currency. Because Beijing has never renounced its desire to take over Taiwan, including through the use of military force, the Pentagon has continually sold arms to the island for self-defense.

The Pentagon announced earlier this year that it has sold Taiwan more than $15 billion in weaponry since 2010.

Since then, the United States has maintained a non-diplomatic relationship with Taipei based on the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), which was signed into law by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter in April 1979.

New Name

The building that was the U.S. embassy in Taiwan was abandoned following the U.S.’s switch in diplomatic recognition to Beijing. Then, under the TRA, Washington established the American Institute of Taiwan (AIT), responsible for implementing U.S. policy toward Taiwan.

Meanwhile, Taiwan established the CCNAA as AIT’s counterpart in March 1979.

CCNAA is located in Taipei City, under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Its main U.S. office is located in Washington, with 12 satellite offices located throughout the United States and its territories, including New York, Los Angeles, Honolulu, Hawaii, and Guam.

Taiwan President Tsai confirmed the name change in a post on her official Facebook page, several hours after the foreign affairs ministry’s Twitter announcement.

In her post, Tsai explained that Taiwan had previously used the term “North America” instead of “U.S.” in naming AIT’s counterpart, due to the difficult diplomatic circumstances at the time—hinting at pressure from Beijing regarding Taiwan’s relationship with the United States. She explained that the name change was the result of a great deal of “discussion and effort” by Taiwan and the United States, with the final announcement coinciding with the 40th anniversary of TRA.

By agreeing to the name change, the current U.S. administration wants to further improve ties with Taiwan, Chen Chien-jen, Taiwan’s former foreign affairs minister, said in an interview with Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily. That also signals that Tsai wants to see better bilateral ties with Washington.

Chen added that the name change is politically significant, given that the Taiwan-U.S. relationship has never been just about the two sides—it also involves Beijing.

The name change is part of a series of measures by Washington in response to “a rising China,” Chen said, in addition to the ongoing Sino-U.S. trade war and the maritime dispute over the South China Sea.

Warming Ties

On the same day that the name change was announced, Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also said that its national security chief, David Lee, met with White House national security adviser John Bolton, during Lee’s recent trip to the United States from May 13 to 21.

According to Taiwan’s media Central News Agency (CNA), the meeting was the first of its kind since 1979. During the trip, Lee reiterated Taiwan’s support and commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

Taiwan’s strategic location is key to the U.S. strategy in the Indo-Pacific. From a military standpoint, for example, Taiwan’s navy and air force act as a counterbalance to the Chinese military’s ambitious goals in the Pacific Ocean.

The U.S. government under President Donald Trump has recently bolstered ties with Taiwan, including with the passage of the “Taiwan Travel Act,” which encourages high-level official exchanges between Taipei and Washington.

Lee also met with unidentified scholars who specialize in Asia-related topics from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the Brookings Institution, and Georgetown University, all of which are based in Washington, according to CNA.

Accompanied by U.S. officials, Lee also met with unidentified officials from countries that are Taiwan’s diplomatic allies. Though the foreign affairs ministry didn’t name these allies, CNA said that it was likely that they were from Palau and the Republic of the Marshall Islands, given that officials from those countries were visiting the United States at that time.

On May 15, the Wall Street Journal reported that the presidents of Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands, would meet with Trump at the White House on May 21.

The White House released a joint statement with the three nations’ presidents on May 21, where they reaffirmed their joint interests in a “free, open, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.”

Wang Ting-yu, a legislator of Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party, said in a Facebook post on May 25 that he applauded the Tsai administration for the major diplomatic breakthroughs: the CCNAA name change, Lee’s meeting with Bolton, and the meeting with diplomatic allies accompanied by U.S. officials—all are firsts of their kind since 1979.

***Book Alert**

New book on CONGRESSIONAL INTENT of THE TAIWAN RELATIONS ACT by TRA principal author about to be out soon.  A real look, in depth, by the framers with important background to help interpret the ACT.

Taiwan-U.S. relationship will continue to prosper: American official


Taipei, April 10 (CNA) The relationship between the United States and Taiwan will continue to prosper, as the two sides commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), a visiting senior U.S. official said Wednesday.

Speaking at a banquet hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Taipei, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State David Meale said Taiwan and U.S. have had close trade and economic ties for decades.

He noted that Taiwan is America's 11th-largest trading partner, while the U.S. is Taiwan's second largest trading partner after China.

But both sides share not only a close economic relationship, but also the values of democracy, Meale said.

As the two sides mark the 40th anniversary of the TRA, which provides the legal basis for unofficial bilateral relations, their ties will only grow stronger, he said.

"As we ponder the anniversary of the TRA, I will take a moment to make a few predictions," Meale said. "First, the relationship between the United States and Taiwan will continue both to prosper and to enhance the prosperity of those who participate in U.S.-Taiwan commercial interaction on both sides of the Pacific."

He said the U.S. "will remain steadfast in all of its commitments to Taiwan, reflecting the enduring nature of our shared interests."

The U.S. will continue to support the "positive trajectory of U.S.-Taiwan economic relations," he said, describing Taiwan as "a democratic success story, a reliable partner, and a force for good in the world."

It is important to continue bilateral cooperation in the areas of innovation, intellectual property rights protection and investment, said Meale, who is the deputy assistant secretary for trade policy negotiations in State Department's Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs.

On a personal note, the visiting U.S. official said, he served at the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), the de facto U.S. embassy, from 2000 to 2004.

"It would be a pleasure to be back at any given time, but it is all the more meaningful to join you as we mark the 40th anniversary of the TRA," he said at AmCham's annual Hsieh Nien Fan banquet, at which President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) also spoke.

In her address, Tsai said Taiwan has seen better-than-expected GDP growth over the past three years, which proved that its economy remained strong.

There are people who think that "accepting economic incentives from authoritarian governments is the way to economic progress, but that is not the future we want," she said, referring to China's ongoing efforts to win over Taiwanese with promises of increased trade.

"We want a future where Taiwan is strong on our own terms; based on our own value and interest," Tsai said. "We are not asking for handouts; we want investments that are sustainable, we want to sell things in a way that doesn't compromise our democracy and way of life."

Tsai urged the U.S. to officially engage in talks with Taiwan on a bilateral trade agreement so that the two countries can continue to strengthen their economic ties in a mutually beneficial relationship.

Meale arrived in Taiwan on Tuesday to attend a series of events to mark the 40th anniversary of the TRA.

During his one-week visit, he is scheduled to open a joint U.S.-Taiwan workshop on stopping digital piracy and protecting trade secrets and to hold discussions with Taiwan authorities on a range of issues related to the U.S.' relationship with Taiwan, according to the AIT.

The TRA was signed in April 1979 by then U.S. President Jimmy Carter, a few months after the U.S. switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing.

The act provides a legal basis for unofficial relations between the U.S. and Taiwan and enshrines in law the U.S.' commitment to helping Taiwan maintain its self-defense capability. 

(By Joseph Yeh)

US warns Beijing against force after Taiwan incursion

(AFP/Mandel NGAN)
03 Apr 2019 05:47AM


WASHINGTON: The United States on Tuesday (Apr 2) warned Beijing against the use of "force or coercion" on Taiwan after the self-ruling island said that two Chinese fighter jets crossed a traditionally respected maritime line dividing the two sides.

"The United States opposes unilateral actions by any party that are aimed at altering the status quo, including anything related to force or coercion," State Department spokesman Robert Palladino told reporters.

"Beijing should stop its coercive efforts and resume dialogue with the democratically elected administration" in Taipei, he said.

Beijing - which considers Taiwan part of its territory awaiting reunification - has stepped up its jet and warship crossings near the island since the 2016 election of Beijing-skeptic President Tsai Ing-wen.

But going a step further, Taiwan's defence ministry said that two Chinese J-11 fighter jets took the highly unusual step Sunday of crossing the median line in the Taiwan Strait that divides the mainland from the island.

Taiwan scrambled its own aircraft and protested the "intentional, reckless and provocative action."


The United States, like the vast majority of countries, recognises only Beijing, but it maintains a close relationship with Taiwan.

Under the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act passed by the US Congress, Washington is legally obliged to provide the island with the means to defend itself.

National security advisor John Bolton stressed US commitment for the Taiwan Relations Act in a tweet on Monday amid events to mark the law's 40th anniversary.

"Chinese military provocations won't win any hearts or minds in Taiwan, but they will strengthen the resolve of people everywhere who value democracy. The Taiwan Relations Act and our commitment are clear," he wrote

​Taiwan will not accept 'one country, two systems': President


Focus Taiwan

Taipei, March 18 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said Monday that as long as she is president, Taiwan will not accept the 'one country, two systems' formula devised by China because it seeks to annex Taiwan and place it under the control of Beijing.

Tsai made the statement in a Facebook post commemorating the fifth anniversary of the Sunflower Student Movement, a 23-day student-led occupation of Taiwan's parliament that began on March 18, 2014 to protest against a trade-in-services agreement with China.

"As long as I am president, the 'one country, two systems' formula will not be accepted," Tsai said.

Tsai also said she will register this week for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) primary for the 2020 presidential election.

"Everyone please come with me and show people that the country is on the right path," she said.

Over the past five years, China's attempts to bring Taiwan under its control have not changed, Tsai said, adding that it was five years ago today students stormed the Legislative Yuan calling for the protection of democracy and protesting the Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement (CSSTA).

The CSSTA, signed between China and Taiwan, aimed at liberalizing trade in services between the two economies that was one of the main causes of the protests as it was set to be passed by the then Kuomintang-dominated legislature without a clause-by-clause review.

Tsai recalled how she and other member of the DPP went to check on the well-being of the students that evening, adding that it was understood occupying the legislature was a last resort.

Everyone was worried about Taiwan's economy becoming overly dependent on China and the threat that posed to democracy, Tsai said.

The last five years have demonstrated that Taiwan must not place all its eggs in one basket, Tsai said, pointing out that efforts to open up diversified markets have taken Taiwan's economy to the world.

The number of tourists visiting Taiwan has also repeatedly broken records, with the country's products being sold to people from around the world, Tsai noted. 

(By Ku Chuan and William Yen)

Taiwan-U.S. ties the best as TRA enters 40 year: foreign minister


Focus Taiwan

Los Angeles, March 11 (CNA) While the threat posed by China is growing more serious, Taiwan's relations with the United States are stronger than ever as the two countries prepare to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), Taiwan's minister of foreign affairs said in a speech in Los Angeles Monday.

Invited by the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) gave a speech at a luncheon in the Millennium Biltmore Hotel titled "Taiwan: An Enduring Partner with the U.S. in the Free and Open Indo-Pacific."

At the event, which attracted an audience of 300, Wu was referred to by his formal title "Taiwan's Foreign Minister" and the national flags of the United States and the Republic of China were prominently displayed on the two sides of the hall.

After greeting the audience, Wu said he was honored to have the opportunity to share the story of the 23 million people of democratic Taiwan, its 40-year partnership with the U.S., and Taiwan's role as a force for good in the Indo-Pacific and beyond.

Wu said that the people of Taiwan endured 38 years of martial law, "but we never gave up on our pursuit for freedom and democracy."

"Through the efforts of many who sacrificed for our civil liberties and freedom, Taiwan has moved out of that dark chapter of history and blossomed into a full-fledged democracy," according to the transcript of his speech in English provided by Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Citing comments made by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence praising Taiwan's embrace of democracy in October last year, the minister said: "We are absolutely committed to defending and strengthening our democracy, and ensuring that it remains resilient."

However, Wu also warned of the intensified campaign to subvert Taiwan's democracy through military intimidation, economic coercion, diplomatic assaults, disinformation and political subversion.

He particularly highlighted China's recent efforts to alter Taiwan's status into a province of China, as well as its military exercises in waters around Taiwan.

"Taiwan should never allow that scenario to happen. We are absolutely committed to defending ourselves from the onslaught of Chinese expansionism," Wu contended.

"We need to be resilient to show to the world that democracy is the better path for mankind," he said.

Turning to the TRA, Wu said it has served as a guiding principle and a cornerstone for the development of a deep, robust, and comprehensive partnership between Taiwan and the U.S.

"There is no better time to reinforce this special bond and build on our strong ties and our shared values as we celebrate four decades of enduring friendship," he said, adding that since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) assumed office in May 2016, the Taiwan-U.S. partnership has become much stronger.

This has been seen by the U.S. House and Senate passing a series of bills, legal clauses and statements supporting Taiwan in the area of security cooperation and the country's multiple announcements of arms sales to Taiwan, the minister of foreign affairs indicated.

"In addition, we have received unprecedented U.S. support for Taiwan's international participation."

At the end of the speech, Wu underlined that Taiwan is a frontline state defending democracy, freedom and the global rules-based order.

"We seek to strengthen our democracy, safeguard our freedom of the press and speech," he said.

"At this critical juncture where great-power competition exacerbates and ideological battle looms, Taiwan has made its choice clear: We stand with the forces of freedom and democracy.

"When we stand together, we stand stronger. Together we rise and together we resolve to be a force for good in the world," Wu said. 

(By Lin Hung-han, Matt Yu and Evelyn Kao)

U.S. lawmakers express support for Taiwan on 40th anniversary of TRA


Focus Taiwan

Taipei, March 11 (CNA) Several heavyweight members of the United States Congress from different political parties have appeared in a congratulatory video clip to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA).

The TRA was enacted in 1979 after Washington severed ties with Taipei, with the aim of defining future unofficial relations between the U.S. and Taiwan.

In the video, the lawmakers assured that the U.S. will support Taiwan's defense capability to resist an invasion by China, while stressing that Taiwan cannot be a bargaining chip.

"It's not enough to simply mark this milestone. We need to reaffirm our commitment to the six assurances and increase our engagement with Taiwan," said House Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and Nonproliferation Chairman Brad Sherman.

"Taiwan should not be a bargaining chip," he added.

A leading supporter of the Taiwan Travel Act, Sherman expressed his pleasure in hosting Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) during her brief stopover in Los Angeles last year, and said he believes more leaders from both sides should visit each other.

Efforts should be made to ensure the full implementation of the travel act and use it as a basis for building deeper ties, he said.

The Taiwan Travel Act, which was signed into law by U.S. President Donald Trump last year, lifts restrictions on high-level visits to and from Taiwan. It is aimed at promoting exchanges between high-level U.S. and Taiwanese officials.

House Representative Ted Yoho said he looks forward to the day Taiwan is recognized as an independent nation, while Representative Gerald Connolly said the TRA sent a message to "those who might have wanted to do damage to Taiwan" that the U.S. will be there "to provide defense for Taiwan."

Ten U.S. lawmakers appeared in the video clip, including James Inhofe, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Robert Menendez, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

"As co-chair of the Senate Taiwan Caucus, I am incredibly proud to wish the TRA a very happy anniversary," Inhofe said in the video, adding that Taiwan will always be an important partner of the U.S. in the region.

"China has never been more aggressive and Taiwan stands as our

ally against that aggression and oppression. I want to let you know that you have a friend in Congress," said Michael McCaul, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

The video clip was first shown at a March 7 event hosted by the Taiwan Representative Office in the U.S. and posted on social media. 

(By Tony Liao and Emerson Lim)

Taiwan makes official request to buy new American fighter jets


Focus Taiwan

Taipei, March 6 (CNA) Taiwan has submitted an official request to the United States to purchase a fleet of new fighter jets to beef up its air defense capability, the Air Force confirmed Wednesday.

The Air Force, however, declined to say when the request was made, what model planes it was hoping to buy from the U.S., or how many.

Asked to comment on an exclusive report published in the Apple Daily earlier in the day, the Air Force confirmed that it had made the request to the U.S. via an official channel and said that its budget would be open to negotiation and would depend on what model aircraft the U.S. decided to sell Taiwan.

According to the Apple Daily, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) on Feb. 27 made a request to the U.S. to purchase a fleet of 66 F-16V or F-16 Viper fighter jets at a cost of US$13 billion, which would include missiles and related logistics and the training of pilots and maintenance personnel.

Several sources familiar with the matter told CNA that the F-16V would be the preferred model to replace the Air Force's aging fleet of F-5s.

Taiwan's military is currently upgrading its 144 F-16 A/B jets to F-16Vs as part of a US$3.68 billion project launched by the government in 2016.

The retrofit program includes installing advanced equipment such as the AN/APG active electronically scanning array radar system, which is in use on American F-22 and F-35 fighters.

The comprehensive upgrade of the Air Force's entire F-16 fleet is expected to be completed by the end of 2023, according to the MND. 

(By Matt Yu and Joseph Yeh)

Tsai calls for Taiwan-Japan talks on security


Focus Taiwan

Taipei, March 2 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has said she would welcome dialogue with Japan at the governmental level to discuss security, according to an exclusive interview published Saturday in the Sankei Shimbun.

The Japanese newspaper noted that there is no direct dialogue or framework for cooperation between Taiwan and Japan in areas such as security and there is no move toward that at the moment.

The main reasons are that Beijing claims "Taiwan as an inseparable part of China" and there are no diplomatic ties between Taiwan and Japan, the paper said.

A substantive cooperation between Taiwan and Japan is necessary, particularly on the security threats in East Asia, Tsai said in the interview.

Asked to elaborate, Tsai said the two sides should discuss security threats on the military front as well as in areas such as cyberwarfare.

Taiwan and Japan both face the risk of their democratic institutions being undermined by fake news and paid internet trolls, Tsai said.

For example, she said, a fake news report last September, which claimed that the Chinese consulate in Osaka had evacuated Chinese tourists from Kansai International Airport during a flood, caused chaos in Taiwan society because Taiwan visitors there were stranded for a long time.

Taiwan's office in Osaka came under heavy criticism and an experienced Taiwan diplomat there committed suicide, as it was made to appear that the office had failed to assist stranded Taiwanese travelers at the airport, in the way China reportedly had done, Tsai said.

The greatest challenge facing democratic countries in these times is maintaining an intact and properly functioning democracy, she said.

While expressing gratitude to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's for his solid support of Taiwan, Tsai said the focus at the moment should be on building cooperation in the area of trade and security and taking bilateral relations to the next level.

Tsai said her government is hoping to hold discussions with Japan and come up with a mutually acceptable solution on the issue of Taiwan's ban on imports of agricultural products and food from Fukushima Prefecture, following a vote last November by the Taiwan public to maintain the restrictions.

Relations between the two sides suffered a setback after the referendum and when Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono subsequently said the Japan government was considering taking the case to the World Trade Organization (WTO).

In January, Tsai said her administration would continue to communicate with Japan in the spirit of the WTO on the issue of the ban, which was imposed shortly after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster on March 11, 2011.

Meanwhile, when asked about Chinese President Xi Jinping's (習近平) "one country, two systems" proposal on Jan. 2 with regard to Taiwan, Tsai said she had made it crystal clear in an address later the same day that Taiwanese would never accept such a system.

On the question of Xi's motives in putting forward such a proposal, Tsai declined to speculate but eventually said Xi may have been under some domestic political pressure or had misjudged the will of the Taiwanese people.

The interview in the Sankei Shimbun followed Tsai's appearance on the CNN program Talk Asia last week.

According to sources familiar with the matter, Tsai is aiming to amplify Taiwan's voice in the international arena in an effort to deepen global understanding of its current situation. 

(By Wen Kuei-hsiang, Yang Ming-chu, Yeh Su-ping and Chung Yu-chen)

Republican U.S. senators want Taiwan president to address Congress

February 7, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Amid tensions between the United States and China, a group of Republican U.S. senators asked House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi to invite Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen to address a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress, an invitation that would anger Beijing if it were extended.

The senators, including Cory Gardner, Marco Rubio, Tom Cotton, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, released their letter to Pelosi on Thursday, ahead of a March 1 deadline for Washington and Beijing to reach a trade deal.

Relations between China and Washington have been tense in recent months. Many U.S. lawmakers have been critical of Chinese business practices and accused its government of espionage and human rights abuses.

The two countries have taken a 90-day hiatus in their trade war to hammer out a deal, and another round of talks is scheduled next week in China.

A spokesman for the Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in the Taipei Times that there is no plan for the president to visit Washington and deliver a speech at the U.S. Congress.

Aides to Pelosi, a Democrat, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle in Washington; Editing by James DalgleishOur Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

​U.S. intel warns of continued Chinese pressure on Taiwan


Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray / Image taken from Wikipedia Commons; Public domain files

Washington, Jan. 29 (CNA) U.S. intelligence agencies indicated Tuesday that they expect Beijing to continue its efforts to force Taiwan to accept its "One China" framework and ultimately Chinese control.

Top U.S. security officials, including Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray, Central Intelligence Agency Director Gina Haspel and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, presented their annual global threats assessment to the Senate intelligence committee on Tuesday.

According to the assessment, Beijing will almost certainly continue to use both pressure and incentives to try to force Taipei to accept its One China framework and eventually Chinese control.

Moreover, China continues to monitor U.S. reaction to gauge its resolve in the region, the report said.

Since 2016, Beijing has persuaded six of Taiwan's 23 diplomatic partners, most recently Burkina Faso and El Salvador, to recognize China instead of Taiwan, the 42-page analysis said.

More broadly, the assessment said China is successfully lobbying for its nationals to obtain senior posts in the United Nations' Secretariat and associated organizations, and using its influence to press the U.N. and U.N. member states to accept its position on issues such as human rights and Taiwan.

"Beijing already controls the information environment inside China, and it is expanding its ability to shape information and discourse relating to China abroad, especially on issues that Beijing views as core to party legitimacy, such as Taiwan, Tibet, and human rights," added the report.

The Assessment predicts that China will continue to increase its maritime presence in the South China Sea, building military and dual-use infrastructure on the Spratly Islands to improve its ability to control access, project power, and undermine U.S. influence in the area.

The report listed concerns about China's desire to seek control over its claimed waters with a whole-of-government strategy, compel Southeast Asian claimants to acquiesce to Beijing's claims -- at least tacitly -- and bolster China's narrative in the region that the U.S. is in decline and Beijing's preeminence is inevitable.

The report also issued a harsh warning about the cyber espionage threat posed by China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea.

"China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea increasingly use cyber operations to threaten both minds and machines in an expanding number of ways -- to steal information, to influence our citizens, or to disrupt critical infrastructure," the intelligence report said. 

(By Chiang Chin-ye and Chung Yu-chen)

MND confirms two U.S. Navy vessels sailed through Taiwan Strait


Taipei, Jan. 24 (CNA) Two United States Navy vessels sailed through the Taiwan Strait Thursday, Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense (MND) confirmed that day.

The ministry did not provide any additional information on the transit, other than to say Taiwan's military is in full control of the situation.

The passage of the vessels comes at a time of increasing tensions between Washington, Beijing and Taipei on issues related to trade as well as political and military matters.

In a CNN report, Thursday U.S. Pacific Fleet spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Tim Gorman was quoted as saying that the naval passage was a routine transit conducted "in accordance with international law."

The transit was carried out by the guided missile destroyer USS McCampbell and the USNS Walter S. Diehl, the report said.

According to Taiwan's defense ministry, the passage on Thursday is the fourth time the U.S. Navy has sent vessels through the Taiwan Strait since July last year, after similar operations in October and November.

Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Logan, a Pentagon spokesman, confirmed in an email response to CNA that two U.S. Navy ships had indeed transited between the South China Sea and East China Sea vis the Taiwan Strait.

"This routine transit through international waters of the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific," Logan wrote. "The U.S. will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows." 

(By Elaine Hou, Chiang Chin-yeh and Ko Lin)

U.S. bill on Taiwan WHO observer status passes first hurdle


[U.S. bill on Taiwan WHO observer status passes first hurdle] Washington, Jan. 22 (CNA) The United States House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill on Tuesday that directs the U.S. secretary of state to help Taiwan regain observer status at the World Health Organization (WHO).

The new House bill, which has to be passed by the Republican-controlled Senate to become law, asks the U.S. secretary of state to develop a strategy to help Taiwan regain the status as an observer at the WHO.

The bill says Taiwan began seeking to participate in the WHO as an observer in 1997.

In 2009, during a period of improved cross-Taiwan Strait relations, Taiwan received an invitation to attend the World Health Assembly (WHA), the decision-making body of WHO, as an observer under the name "Chinese Taipei," it says.

Taiwan received the same invitation each year until 2016, when following the election of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the Democratic Progressive Party, Taiwan's engagement in the international community began facing increased resistance from the People's Republic of China (PRC), the bill says.

The bill says Taiwan's invitation to the 2016 WHA was received late and included new language conditioning Taiwan's participation on the PRC's "one China principle," noting that in 2017, Taiwan did not receive an invitation to the WHA.

The previous version of the bill, introduced by Florida Republican Ted Yoho, was approved by the House last year, but did not make the Senate's daily floor schedule in time.

According to the procedures of the United States Congress, all bills not passed by both the House and the Senate at the end of the last session, have to be reintroduced in the next Congress.

The House Republicans reintroduced the bill on Jan. 8 after making minor amendments.

The bill was supported by both Republican and Democratic congressmen, including Republicans Michael McCaul, Steve Chabot, Brian Fitzpatrick and Democrat Eliot Engel.

The U.S. Congress has long voiced support for Taiwan's meaningful participation in international organizations.

In May last year, 172 members of the U.S. Congress backed Taiwan's bid for observer status at the WHA in a letter sent to the UN agency's Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar also pledged to support Taiwan's efforts to participate in WHA last year, said it was disappointing Taiwan had not been invited as an observer.

Addressing the third plenary of the WHA, Azar said the world is now better prepared for a flu pandemic and while there is an internationally agreed upon process and timeline to share flu virus samples rapidly, every country and relevant international institution must do its part in order for such systems to work.

"Thus, it is again disappointing that Taiwan was not invited to observe WHA," Azar said.

"It is difficult to reconcile our shared concern over cross-border infectious diseases with excluding representatives of the 23 million people of Taiwan from this gathering," he added. 

(By Chiang Chin-yeh and Chung Yu-chen)

​U.K. parliamentary group voices support for President Tsai


Focus Taiwan

London, Jan. 10 (CNA) The British-Taiwanese All-Party Parliamentary Group on Thursday expressed support for Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) response to China's recent warning that unification with Taiwan is inevitable.

In a joint statement, U.K. Parliamentary Member Nigel Evans and Lord Rogan, deputy speaker of the House of Lords, said they wholly support Tsai's firm position to bolster Taiwan as a full-fledged democracy, which shares the universal values of freedom, respect for human rights, and the rule of law with the U.K.

As co-chairs of the British group, Evans and Rogan said, they understand that the vast majority of Taiwanese resolutely opposes the "one country, two systems" unification formula proposed by China.

The U.K. group said it regards any threat or intimidation across the Taiwan Strait as irresponsible and hopes China will respect the firm commitment of Taiwan's 23 million people to freedom and democracy.

The two U.K. lawmakers said they are looking forward to both sides of the Taiwan Strait having their voices heard in international forums such as the World Health Organization and the International Civil Aviation Organization.

In a speech on Jan. 2 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of China's "Message to compatriots in Taiwan," Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) said China seeks "peaceful unification" with Taiwan but will not rule out the option of military action.

He also said the "one country, two systems" formula is the best approach to achieving unification.

In response, President Tsai said China must accept the reality of the existence of the Republic of China (Taiwan), respect the commitment of the 23 million people of Taiwan to freedom and democracy, resolve cross-strait differences peacefully and equitably, and negotiate with Taiwan's government or an organization with a government mandate.

The vast majority of Taiwanese also resolutely opposes "one country, two systems," and this opposition is also a "Taiwan consensus," she said.

Meanwhile, David Lin (林永樂), Taiwan's top representative to the United Kingdom, on Thursday thanked the U.K. group for its strong support of Taiwan in the international community. 

(By Tai Ya-chen and Chi Jo-yao)

​White House urges Beijing to end coercion and talk with Taipei​

Focus Taiwan

Taipei, Jan. 8 (CNA) A senior White House official on Monday called on China to stop its coercion of Taiwan and resume dialogue with Taiwan's government after Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) recently reasserted China's right to use force against Taiwan.

"Beijing should stop its coercion & resume dialog w/ the democratically-elected administration on Taiwan," Garrett Marquis, spokesperson of the National Security Council under the White House, said in a tweet Monday.

In a previous tweet earlier the same day, Marquis reiterated Washington's opposition to any threat or use of force to get the people of Taiwan to act against their will.

"Any resolution of Cross-Strait differences must be peaceful and based on the will of the ppl on both sides," it said.

Asked to comment, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) deputy spokesperson Joanne Ou (歐江安) expressed Taiwan's appreciation for the tweets, which showed support for the country's democratic system and its people.

Xi's warning was delivered on Jan. 2 during his address in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of China's "Message to Compatriots in Taiwan."

Xi said in his speech that China is willing to talk with any party in Taiwan to push forward the process of peaceful unification on the basis of the "one China principle."

However, "we make no promise to renounce the use of force and reserve the option of taking all necessary means" to serve the end, Xi said.

He said China will not target compatriots in Taiwan but the interference of external forces as well as the very small number of Taiwan independence activists. 

(By Joseph Yeh)

​Taiwan will never accept 'one country, two systems' scheme: Tsai


Focus Taiwan

Taipei, Jan. 2 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said Wednesday that she has never accepted the so-called "1992 consensus" and will never do so because it is tantamount to the "one China, two systems" formula devised by China to bring Taiwan under its control.

Speaking at a news conference, Tsai stated categorically that since assuming office in May 2016, she has rejected the "1992 consensus," the goal of which is Taiwan's unification with China.

'We have never accepted the '1992 consensus.' The fundamental reason is because the '1992 consensus' as defined by Beijing is in fact the 'one China principle' and 'one China, two systems' formula," Tsai said.

"Taiwan will never accept the 'one China, two systems' formula, and the vast majority of Taiwan's people are firmly opposed to the approach designed by Beijing," she said, noting that a speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) earlier in the day proved that "Taiwan's misgivings are correct."

The "1992 consensus" refers to a verbal agreement reached in 1992 between the then Kuomintang (KMT) government of Taiwan and Chinese communist officials that both sides of the Taiwan Strait acknowledge there is only "one China," with each side free to interpret what "China" means.

Earlier Wednesday, Xi said in a speech commemorating the 40th anniversary of the "Message to Compatriots in Taiwan" that Taiwan "must and will be" united with China based on the "1992 consensus" under the "one China principle."

Xi said China is willing to talk with any party in Taiwan to push forward the political process as long as it accepts the "one China principle." However, he reiterated "we will not renounce the use of force or give up the option to use all necessary measures" to serve that end and crack down on Taiwan independence.

Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Xi's attempt to put pressure on Taiwan through Beijing's "one China principle" and the "1992 consensus" highlights China's ignorance of the fact that Taiwan is a globally recognized democracy, that Taiwan's people refuse to accept the "one country, two systems" approach and have the right to determine their own future.

MOFA urged the international community to maintain its support for Taiwan and help it to continue to serve as a beacon in the Asia-Pacific region.

"We look forward to working with the international community to jointly safeguard our shared common values and establish an international order based on freedom, democracy and respect for human rights," it said.

Meanwhile, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said Taiwan will not accept an offer to talk with an authoritarian regime that is determined to stamp out Taiwan's sovereignty.

The MAC also urged China not to misjudge the situation and take any unilateral action as Taiwan is prepared to safeguard its dignity and sovereignty.

The implementation of the "one country, two systems" policy in Hong Kong has deprived its people of freedom and the rule of law -- something the people of Taiwan will never accept, the MAC said. 

(By Wen Kuei-hsiang and Flor Wang)

US would continue to support Taiwan, US academics say

Dec 6, 2018

Staff writer, with CNA

The US would continue to maintain strong relations with Taiwan, despite a shift in the nation’s political map following last month’s local elections, US academics and foreign affairs experts said on Tuesday.

Speaking at a seminar hosted by the Institute for Taiwan-America Studies (ITAS), David Brown, a professor at Johns Hopkins University, said that the US would maintain strong ties with Taiwan, despite the nation’s new political map after the nine-in-one elections on Nov. 24.

However, China might need to consider whether to adjust its attitude toward Taiwan and whether it should continue to pressure Taipei after the election resulted in an outcome welcomed by Beijing, Brown said.

China is likely to step up exchanges with cities and counties controlled by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), but it will likely proceed cautiously and under the framework of its “one China” principle, Brown said.

The KMT won control of 15 of the nation’s 22 cities and counties, a net gain of nine offices, while the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which is much less conciliatory toward Beijing, won only six cities and counties, down from 13.

KMT Legislator Johnny Chiang (江啟臣), who is in the US at the invitation of the ITAS, said that the US is not expected to change its stance toward Taiwan and would respect Taiwan’s democracy.

The US has long supported Taiwan and has been concerned about cross-strait ties, the economic and military pressure from China ahead of the elections, and Beijing’s attitude toward Taiwan, he said.

The direction US-Taiwan ties would take is not only the DPP’s concern, Chiang said, adding that the relations between the two nations would continue to move forward regardless of who is in power.

Shannon Tiezzi, editor-in-chief of the online magazine The Diplomat, also said that Taiwan-US relations would not change.

However, she said that Taiwan, like many other nations in the region, would be even more deeply caught between China and the US.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has opted to embrace the US’ Indo-Pacific strategy and introduced the New Southbound Policy, but the election results could influence the policy, Tiezzi said.

What to watch in the Taiwan elections

Lauren Dickey


19 November 2018

On Saturday, the people of Taiwan will head to the polls to cast ballots for more than 11,000 officials. Taiwan’s citizens will vote for the mayors of the “big six” special municipalities of Taipei, New Taipei, Taoyuan, Taichung, Tainan, and Kaohsiung. Also up for election are 13 county commissioners, about 900 councillors, 56 indigenous district representatives, nearly 2,300 local representatives, and over 7,700 borough wardens.

Despite the scale of candidates and positions in this year’s local elections, Taiwan’s domestic political environment is unlikely to change overnight. Much like midterm elections in other democracies, these elections are a barometer for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) under President Tsai Ing-wen and a prelude to presidential and legislative elections in 2020.

This year’s elections are likely to provide a clearer sense of how satisfied the general public is with the DPP.

The local elections are the first test for the DPP since it stepped into power following the 2016 presidential and legislative elections. This year’s elections are likely to provide a clearer sense of how satisfied the general public is with the DPP. Domestic issues – ranging from the economy to marriage equality and energy supplies – are likely to influence how the people of Taiwan choose to vote.

While the outcomes of the election may have implications for Taiwan’s relationship with China or foreign policy issues, it is worth remembering that local elections tend to focus primarily on local and national issues.

Most of the media attention leading up to the elections is upon the mayoral elections. In Taipei, the race is between incumbent Ko Wen-je (Independent), Pasuya Yao (DPP), and Ting Shou-chung(KMT).

Ko was notably endorsed by the DPP when he first ran for the mayoral seat in 2014. Many now question whether his policies align with the DPP’s platform, particularly given Ko’s past remarks that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait are part of “one family”. Nonetheless, Ko is a popular candidate and most polls show Ko leading over Ting by a few percentage points. If he is reelected as Taipei mayor, some reports have suggested that he may next seek the presidency – a path former Taipei mayors-turned-Presidents Chen Shui-bian and Ma Ying-jeou have also taken.

Beyond Taipei, it will also merit watching how the KMT fares in other locales and whether the party can begin to recoup some of its previous electoral losses. The KMT has been in political trouble since losing control of the legislature in 2016. As it currently stands, the KMT appears to be most competitive in two of the “big six” municipalities: Taichung and Kaohsiung.

In Taichung, the race for mayor is between the incumbent Lin Chia-lung (DPP) and Lu Shiow-yen(KMT). During Lin’s mayoral tenure, his decision to end Taichung’s “Bus Rapid Transit” system and persistent air pollution have fuelled popular dissatisfaction. Polling conducted by TVBS in late October suggests that Lu is likely to edge out Lin by a few percentage points.

In Kaohsiung, KMT mayoral candidate Han Kuo-yu is running against the DPP’s spokesperson, Chen Chi-mai. Han has been surprisingly successful at winning support from Taiwanese youth – a constituency the KMT has traditionally struggled to capture. Han’s popularity on the campaign trail appears to come from his frankness, including his belief that two decades of DPP leadership in Kaohsiung has made the municipality “old and poor”. Polling appears to agree with Han, with over half of those surveyed by TVBS in early November supportive of a change of ruling party.

Finally, when the Taiwanese head to the polls this month, they will also be voting on a multi-question referendum. The referendum is the first since amendments to the Referendum Act passed in December 2017 lowered the barrier to getting questions on the ballot. Among the questions to appear on the ballot, voters will be asked about education, energy and the environment, civil rights, and Taiwan’s international engagement. These questions are a litmus test for policies championed by the Tsai administration, including whether nuclear energy power-generating facilities should cease operations, whether marriage should be restricted by gender, and whether Taiwan should apply to participate in international sporting events as ‘Taiwan.’

From the municipality down to the borough level, the outcome of this year’s local elections will offer an updated reflection of what the people of Taiwan expect of their democratically elected representatives. That will become clear in an assessment of the 24 November election.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone.

​New AIT Taipei chief lists top U.S. priorities in Taiwan

2018/10/31 14:26:26

Focus Taiwan

Taipei, Oct. 31 (CNA) The new de facto U.S. ambassador to Taiwan on Wednesday pledged to continue to promote Taiwan-U.S. relations, listing the top priorities during his three-year tenure as promoting U.S.-Taiwan security and economic ties; Taiwan's role in the global community and people-to-people ties.

At his first press conference in Taipei as Director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), Brent Christensen, who assumed office in August, reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to Taiwan.

"For almost 40 years, the Taiwan Relations Act and the three U.S.-China Joint Communiques have served as the foundation of our 'one China' policy that has guided our relations with Taiwan and the People's Republic of China," he said.

He stressed the long-held U.S. stance that any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by "other than peaceful means represents a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific area and is of grave concern to the United States."

"We are opposed to unilateral attempts to change the status quo," Christensen added.

Meanwhile, the AIT chief said the U.S. welcomes efforts on both sides to engage in dialogue that reduces tensions and improves peace and stability in the cross-strait relationship, against the backdrop of ongoing tension since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) assumed office in May 2016.

At the press event, Christensen highlighted the four areas he sees as priorities during his tenure, including the promotion of U.S.-Taiwan security cooperation; U.S.-Taiwan economic and commercial relationship; Taiwan's role in the global community and people-to-people ties.

In terms of supporting Taiwan's ability to defend itself, Christensen pointed out that the U.S. recently approved the second arms sale to Taipei in two years, worth US$330 million.

"Our obligation to support Taiwan in maintaining a sufficient self-defense capability against coercion is a foundational element of the Taiwan Relations Act," he said.

On economic and trade fronts, the AIT chief said Washington sees value in further improving already strong economic ties with Taipei.

"This was underscored by Secretary of State Pompeo in his speech last July about our free and open Indo-Pacific Strategy, where he noted the important role that Taiwan can play in this strategy, including in the areas of the digital economy, energy and infrastructure."

Another major focus will be U.S. support for Taiwan's international participation, Christensen said, adding that the world cannot afford to exclude Taiwan as it faces a number of global challenges.

"The United States has long been a vocal supporter of Taiwan's meaningful participation in international organizations, and we continue our informal consultations and engagement to allow Taiwan to have a more substantive role in the international community," he said, adding that the country's broader participation on the world stage will have benefits for the global community.

The fourth and last focus is promoting bilateral people-to-people ties, he said, adding that he hopes to see more US states open representative offices in Taiwan to promote business and tourism.

Christensen, who has nearly 30 years of diplomatic experience, replaces former director Kin Moy, and previously served as AIT deputy director from 2012-2015. 

(By Joseph Yeh)

U.S. supports Taiwan's meaningful participation in Interpol

2018/10/17 12:08:32

Focus Taiwan

Washington, Oct. 16 (CNA) The United States supports Taiwan's meaningful participation in international organizations, Interpol included, a U.S. State Department spokesperson said Tuesday.

The spokesperson made the statement after Taiwan confirmed Tuesday it is asking friendly countries to speak up at an upcoming Interpol executive committee meeting to support Taiwan's participation at Interpol's General Assembly next month in Dubai.

The spokesperson said Washington supports Taiwan's participation in international organizations whether or not they require statehood.

"In organizations that require statehood for membership, the United States supports Taiwan's meaningful participation. This includes ICAO, Interpol, WHO, and the more than 60 international organizations in which Taiwan participates," the spokesperson said.

The Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) said in a statement Monday that it has sent a letter to ask that it participate as an observer in Interpol's General Assembly to be held from Nov. 16 to 21 at Dubai.

Bob Chen (陳龍錦), director-general of MOFA's Department of International Organizations, confirmed Tuesday that Interpol has received the letter sent by CIB Commissioner Tsai Tsan-po (蔡蒼柏) in September but has yet to respond. 

(By Chiang Chin-yeh and Joseph Yeh)

U.S. announces US$330 million arms sale to Taiwan

Focus Taiwan

2018/09/25 10:42:52

Washington, Sept. 24 (CNA) The U.S. State Department has approved a proposal to sell arms worth US$330 million to Taiwan to upgrade Taipei's defensive capabilities, the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said Monday.

In a statement, the DSCA said the arms sale will cover standard spare parts and the repair or replacement of spare parts in support of such aircraft as the F-16, C-130, F-5, and Indigenous Defense Fighter (IDF).

The DSCA said the Pentagon has notified the U.S. Congress about the approved arms sale proposal to Taiwan. The sale will be concluded once the United States and Taiwan sign a letter of offer and acceptance (LOA) covering the deal.

"This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security and defensive capability of the recipient, which has been and continues to be an important force for political stability, military balance, and economic progress in the region," the DSCA said in the statement.

"The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region," the DSCA said. 

(By Rita Cheng and Frances Huang)

Tsai welcomes French lawmakers to Taiwan



President Tsai Ing-wen has welcomed a group of eight French lawmakers to Taiwan. The lawmakers are members of a France-Taiwan friendship group within France’s National Assembly.
Meeting the visiting lawmakers Tuesday, Tsai spoke about recent progress in parliamentary ties between Taiwan and France. During a trip to Europe this summer, Legislature President Su Jia-chyuan became the first head of Taiwan’s legislature to enter the National Assembly.
Tsai said Taiwan believes such high-level exchanges with France will promote more exchanges and cooperation. 
Tsai also thanked French lawmakers friendly to Taiwan for their support on a range of issues. These include objecting to Beijing’s unilateral declaration of a flight path in the Taiwan Strait and supporting Taiwan’s participation in the World Health Assembly.

US Senators propose act to discourage allies switch ties to Beijing



US Senators proposed the Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative, or TAIPEI Act, this week. The landmark act would give the US State Department the authority to suspend assistance to countries that switch diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China.

President Office Spokesperson Sidney Lin said the US is Taiwan’s most important partner. Taiwan is grateful for the US’s long term support and will continue to talk with the US about how to maintain Taiwan’s position in the international arena.

China has been luring Taiwan’s allies away with three countries switching allegiance this year. Taiwan only has 17 diplomatic allies left.

Taiwan’s foreign ministry said the act shows the US’s concern over Beijing’s bullying of Taiwan.

Republican Senators Cory Gardner and Marco Rubio and Democrats Ed Markey and Bob Menendez announced their proposal of the TAIPEI Act on Wednesday. The act calls on the US to oppose China’s bullying of Taiwan. The act would give the right to downgrade assistance or relations with any country that acts in a way that affects Taiwan’s interests, such as switching diplomatic ties to Beijing.

Gardner is also the chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Asia subcommittee. He said this act would force the US to find strategies to protect Taiwan’s international position. Senator Markey said the US must support Taiwan or Taiwan could lose all of its allies.

Premier wants to turn Taiwan into bilingual nation



Premier William Lai wants to turn Taiwan into a bilingual nation with Chinese and English as its official languages. He will announce a specific plan and strategy next year.

Cabinet spokesperson Kolas Yotaka said on Monday that last October Lai asked the education ministry to research and plan how to turn Taiwan into a bilingual nation. The committee will present its comprehensive plan and goals by next year.

The education ministry gave its initial report in June and will report again to the premier within a month. The plan will include strengthening English education with methods such as setting up bilingual classes and training students in spoken English.

Premier Lai initiated a similar program in Tainan when he was mayor there. He set up an office and plans to make English as the second official language in Tainan. 

​US academic urges joint US-Taiwan military drills

CHINESE THREAT::With China adopting an ‘anaconda strategy’ to force Taiwan to surrender, the US needs to do more to counter China, June Tuefel Dreyer said
Staff writer, with CNA
Thu, Aug 16, 2018 - Page 3, Taipei Times

With US President Donald Trump signing into law the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019, the US and Taiwan should conduct joint military exercises to counter China’s increasing pressure on Taiwan, a US academic said in an article published on Tuesday.
In the article published by the Foreign Policy Research Institute, June Teufel Dreyer, a professor of political science at the University of Miami and a senior fellow at the institute’s Asia Program, said that Beijing has adopted what might be called an “anaconda strategy” to force Taiwan to surrender.
The pace of the strategy includes diplomatic, economic and military efforts, as well as attempts to destabilize Taiwanese society from within, Dreyer said.
Although the US - which is bound by the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act to maintain the balance of power in the Taiwan Strait - has taken measures to show its concerns over China’s increasing pressure on Taiwan, including accusing the Chinese government of “Orwellian nonsense” for controlling how US airlines refer to Taiwan, US responses have been largely symbolic, Dreyer said.
“More needs to be done to counter the anaconda,” she said.
For instance, “the US Navy should regularly send ships, including aircraft carrier battle groups, through the Taiwan Strait; its air force should conduct patrols in the area. Joint military exercises between the US and Taiwan should become routine, with Taiwan invited to participate in the annual multinational Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercises,” she wrote.
“For all of Beijing’s bravado about its determination to defend a sovereignty over Taiwan that it has never actually exercised, China will hesitate to attack the US military for fear of escalation into an uncontrollable confrontation,” she said.
“It could, however, punish Taiwan,” she wrote.
Chinese sources have warned of further actions, with Beijing’s foreign supporters urging Washington to refrain from doing anything that might anger China, Dreyer said.
US immobilism for fear of triggering a response plays exactly into the anaconda strategy - a gradual tightening that will go on, Dreyer said.
Touching on US-Taiwan relations, Dreyer said that although no high-profile visits or port calls have yet taken place, Taipei and Washington have signed an agreement to allow personnel at Taiwan’s research institutions to visit national defense facilities and laboratories in the US, thereby benefiting Taiwan’s ability to produce military vessels and aircraft.
According to the US Naval Institute’s Proceedings, Taiwan is to build submarines with the US’ help, she said.
Trump on Monday signed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019, which includes provisions supporting the strengthening of Taiwan’s armed forces.
Section 1259 of the act includes a statement that prohibits the US secretary of defense from involving China in any RIMPAC naval exercises until the secretary is able to certify to relevant congressional committees that China has ceased its land reclamation and related military activities for at least a four-year period.

​High-ranking lawmakers attend banquet for Tsai in LA


August 13, 2018

President Tsai Ing-wen spoke to some prominent members of congress and a full house of overseas Taiwanese at a banquet in Los Angeles on Sunday. This was during the president’s first stopover in the United States after the Taiwan Travel Act went into effect loosening restrictions on high-profile visits.

More than a thousand people attended the banquet, including the chairman of the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Ed Royce, and Congressman Brad Sherman.

The chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan, James Moriarty, who oversees US-Taiwan relations in the absence of ties, was also in attendance. In a speech, he said that President Tsai is his very good and old friend and a good friend of the United States.

Meanwhile, Congressman Brad Sherman said that President Tsai is now able to freely talk to the media and make public appearances during her stopovers in the US. That’s because the Taiwan Travel Act encourages exchanges and visits between US and Taiwan officials.

Sherman also said he hopes that President Tsai can visit Washington DC one day to meet with top officials there.

During her speech at the banquet, President Tsai spoke about the progress that’s been made in US-Taiwan ties.

“Since my last visit to Los Angeles, a lot has happened in our relationship with the United States. We have seen the approval of the first major arms sale by the Trump administration. Important legislation including the Taiwan Travel Act has passed, thanks to our friends in Congress. And in June, we witnessed the opening of the new AIT compound in Taipei, a concrete symbol of the United States’ commitment to Taiwan.”

Tsai also said it is a good time for investors and young people to come to Taiwan. She noted how the government is making Taiwan a friendlier environment for investors, business owners and young people interested in emerging industries.

US Congress passes act that proposes to expand defense ties with Taiwan


August 2nd, 2018

The US Senate passed the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act on Wednesday. The act proposes to expand defense ties with Taiwan. It was passed 87 to 10 votes in the Senate and 359 to 54 votes in the House of Representatives on July 26.

The act proposes expansion of US-Taiwan military exchanges and training and supports military industry cooperation and arms sales. It also says the US could consider sending military medical vessels to Taiwan for disaster relief cooperation.

Foreign ministry spokesman Andrew Lee said the act shows the US’s support of Taiwan.

"Next, this bill will be sent to the White House to be signed by President Trump and made into law. The foreign ministry will continue to have close dialogue with the US to strengthen US-Taiwan security ties to guarantee peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait," said Lee. 

The act says the US Secretary of Defense should evaluate Taiwan’s defense needs and make suggestions for Taiwan to strengthen its defense capabilities. US-Taiwan security exchanges should also be strengthened including training and military exercises. It also said humanitarian and disaster relief cooperation should be expanded. As part of its Pacific Partnership, it said that the US should consider sending military medical vessels to Taiwan to improve disaster relief cooperation.

US raises Taiwan in Indo-Pacific strategy



"The foreign ministry has thanked the United States for mentioning the importance of Taiwan in a speech on the US Indo-Pacific strategy. That’s the word from foreign ministry spokesperson Andrew Lee on Tuesday.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday gave his keynote address on “America’s Indo-Pacific Economic Vision” at the US Chamber of Commerce in Washington DC. Pompeo cited numerous US partners including Thailand, Vietnam, India, and Mongolia, and the development of regional peace and prosperity.
Pompeo also said Taiwan has continued to develop its economy and democracy for it to become a high-tech powerhouse.
At a press conference on Tuesday, foreign ministry spokesperson Andrew Lee expressed the government’s gratitude for Pompeo bringing up Taiwan in his speech. The ministry also thanked the US for emphasizing the role that Taiwan can play in the region. Lee said it went on to show that the US values Taiwan as an indispensable partner under the Indo-Pacific strategy."

US: Taiwan Strait is international waters



A top US defense department official said that the Taiwan Strait is international waters and US ships have the right to go through the strait. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs Randall Schriver made the comment at a think tank forum on cross-strait relations. The forum was hosted by the Taiwan Democracy Foundation and The Heritage Foundation.

Schriver also said Taiwan is an important partner in the United States’ Indo-Pacific strategy and reaffirmed the US commitment to selling arms to Taiwan.

Foreign ministry spokesperson Andrew Lee on Thursday thanked the US for its support.

Lee said, "The Republic of China government will continue to watch developments in the region and will fulfill its responsibility as a member of the region to maintain peace and security. We will also work quickly on defense investments to strengthen our defense capabilities to face increasing military threats."

Lee said that the government’s stance has always been to maintain freedom of navigation in public waters.

Taiwan's Apache choppers to be commissioned July 11: defense ministry

2018/07/02 13:57:23 

Focus Taiwan

Taipei, July 2 (CNA) Taiwan's Army next week will officially commission all of its Apache attack helicopters purchased from the United States, having completed the necessary pilot training and verification of the fleet's combat capability, the defense ministry said Monday.

Nearly four years after taking delivery of the 30 Apaches, the Taoyuan-based Army Aviation and Special Forces Command will commission the fleet and the second of its two Apache squadrons on July 11, military spokesman Chen Chung-chi (陳中吉) said.

The first squadron was commissioned in June 2017 and now the entire Apache fleet and its pilots will be officially declared combat ready on July 11, he said.

Chen said he could not confirm whether President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) or representatives from the U.S. will attend the July 11 ceremony, as reported in the local media.

Taiwan purchased the 30 AH-64E Apache helicopters from the U.S. at cost of NT$59.31 billion (US$1.94 billion) in 2008, in a deal that included personnel training and logistics, and took delivery of the aircraft over the period November 2013 to October 2014.

One of the helicopters was wrecked in a crash during a training flight in Taoyuan in April 2014 and the other 29 have been allocated to the command's 601st Brigade.

The AH-64E, also known as the "tankbuster" or "tank killer," is equipped with powerful target acquisition radar that is capable of 360-degree operation to a range of 8 kilometers.

It can track over 128 targets simultaneously and sort out the 16 most dangerous ones and is also equipped with 16 Hellfire missiles that can be deployed in under 30 seconds, according to the command. 

(By Joseph Yeh)

US Senate passes bill for troops to join Taiwan drills



The US Senate has passed a bill that calls for US troops to join in military drills in Taiwan. Lawmakers passed the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) with a vote of 85 to 10. The House of Representatives passed a similar bill in late May.

One section of the bill says the US defense secretary should promote exchanges enhancing the security of Taiwan. That includes, "US participation in appropriate Taiwan exercises, such as the annual Han Kuang exercises" and vice versa.

The Han Kuang exercises are the largest annual military drills in Taiwan, which involve computer war games and live-fire drills.

The Senate bill also calls for expanded cooperation with Taiwan in the areas of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. It says the secretary of defense should consider supporting a visit by an American hospital ship to Taiwan.

Meanwhile, Taiwan’s foreign ministry has thanked the Senate for its show of support. Spokesperson Andrew Lee says Taiwan will continue to monitor the developments, because the Senate and House still need to negotiate a joint version of the bill that will be sent to President Trump to sign.

​​Visiting AIT chair restates basis of ‘one China’ policy



In related news, the visiting chair of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), James Moriarty, restated the basis of the US “one China” policy. Moriarty is in Taiwan to attend the dedication of the AIT’s new office complex in Taipei.
A recent Reuters report said the US was considering sending a warship to pass through the Taiwan Strait. Moriarty did not comment on the report but said that the US “one China” policy was based on the Three Communiques and the Taiwan Relations Act.
The US maintains a strategic ambiguity with regards to Taiwan’s status. The Three Communiques between the US and China acknowledge that China claims Taiwan but do not officially recognize that claim. The Taiwan Relations Act makes provisions for relations with Taiwan in the absence of formal diplomatic ties, including arms sales.
Reuters reported on June 4 that US officials were considering sending a warship through the Taiwan Strait to counter China’s recent aggressive posturing in the region. The last such passage of a warship was in July last year. An American aircraft carrier has not been seen in the Taiwan Strait since 2007, under the George W Bush administration.

​​​US draft bill calls for US participation in Taiwan military exercises


June 7, 2018

A US draft bill calls for US troops to participate in Taiwan’s military exercises and for Taiwan to participate in US military exercises. The details of the bill were released Wednesday.

The US Senate Armed Services Committee on May 24 passed the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2019. It includes several provisions to help Taiwan increase its defense ability.

This comes as China has increased its military activity around Taiwan. Taiwan also is in the middle of a week of live-fire military exercises.

The bill said the US Secretary of Defense should promote department of defense policies concerning exchanges that enhance the security of Taiwan, “including US participation in appropriate Taiwan exercises, such as the annual Han Kuang exercise” and vice versa.

The presidential office thanked the US for its support of Taiwan’s defense. It said it would continue to talk to US officials about how to strengthen US-Taiwan security ties.

Outgoing deputy AIT head awarded medal, praises U.S. Taiwan ties

2018/06/06 19:06:20

Focus Taiwan

Taipei, June 6 (CNA) Outgoing American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) deputy head Robert Forden on Wednesday praised the strong U.S.-Taiwan ties despite the changing of administrations on both sides, as he was awarded a medal of friendship by the foreign ministry in recognition of his contributions over the past three years.

Forden was awarded the Friendship Medal of Diplomacy by Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) in recognition of his efforts to promote Taiwan-U.S. relations. The AIT represents U.S. interests in Taiwan in the absence of official diplomatic ties.

Thanks to the efforts of Forden and all AIT staff, Wu said, Taiwan and the U.S. are working more closely than ever in the areas of security, trade, investment, regional issues and humanitarian relief.

"Furthermore, in less than one week's time, the new AIT compound will open, which is a concrete symbol of U.S. commitment to Taiwan," Wu noted.

For his part, Forden, who has served in an AIT post four times over the past 30 years, recalled the achievements the AIT and Taiwan have made over the past three years, including Taiwan's entry to the U.S. Global Entry Program and the passage of an arms sale deal last summer.

Next week's dedication ceremony for the new AIT compound in Taipei's Neihu District will best represent the progress in bilateral ties made over the past years, he said.

According to Forden, another significant example of the cordial ties is that U.S. and Taiwan have worked through two transitions of administrations -- one in May 2016 when President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office, and the other in January 2017, when President Donald Trump assumed power.

Despite the change of administrations, U.S.-Taiwan relations have stayed strong throughout, he noted.

Forden assumed duties as deputy AIT head in August 2015. He previously served as AIT Kaohsiung branch chief from 2002 to 2005. Prior to that, he served in various less senior positions.

He is scheduled to leave Taiwan June 18, according to the AIT. His successor has yet to be announced. 

(By Joseph Yeh) 

US using concrete actions to maintain cross-strait peace: Tsai


June 4, 2018

President Tsai Ing-wen says the United States has been using concrete actions to help maintain cross-strait peace. Her remarks came Monday in a meeting with a delegation from a Washington-based think tank, the Center for a New American Security (CNAS).

President Tsai said there is strong bipartisan support in the US for relations between Taipei and Washington. She said she hopes that Taiwan can continue to work closely with the United States to expand mutually-beneficial cooperative efforts.

“Over the past two years, relations between Taiwan and the United States have continued to move in a positive direction. America’s [recent] announcement of new arms sales to Taiwan, reassurances of support for the Taiwan Relations Act, and its granting of a license to allow American firms to sell the country the technology needed to build submarines, indicate its support for Taiwan, and for using concrete actions to help maintain cross-strait peace," said Tsai.

Tsai said the United States is Taiwan’s most important strategic and trading partner, and that the two sides have close cooperation in the areas of security, economy and culture.

Tsai also said that stable Taiwan-US ties are an important foundation for prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.

16 countries voice support for Taiwan at WHA



A total of 16 countries have voiced their support for Taiwan to take part in the World Health Assembly (WHA) as an observer. The annual meeting of the World Health Assembly’s convening body opened in Geneva on Monday.
Taiwan has been unable to attend this year’s WHA due to pressure from China. The representatives of six of Taiwan's diplomatic allies have spoken up at the venue. These countries are Honduras, Tuvalu, El Salvador, Guatemala, Belize and Kiribati. 
Health officials from other nations including Japan, the United States, Germany and New Zealand have also addressed the issue of Taiwan’s participation in various ways. 
Asked about reports that more allies could cut ties with Taiwan, foreign minister Joseph Wu said Wednesday that almost all of Taiwan’s allies, with the exception of the Vatican, have shown their support for Taiwan’s bid at the WHA. 

US expresses strong support for Taiwan in WHA



The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) stated in a Facebook post on Wednesday that the United States strongly supports Taiwan’s participation as an observer at this year’s World Health Assembly (WHA). The AIT is the US de facto embassy in Taiwan in the absence of official ties between the two sides. The WHA is the convening body of the World Health Organization.

The post said a country cannot have prosperity if it is deprived of health. It used Ebola as an example, saying that the virus can spread from villages to world capitals in 36 hours. AIT said that stopping diseases from spreading is a priority for national security. It said that is why the US and Taiwan have jointly hosted five regional public health workshops since 2015. AIT said the workshops have helped improve both countries’ ability to stop the spread of infectious diseases.

The post said that Taiwan is committed to global health security and has made important contributions to public health. It said that the US believes that Taiwan should not be excluded from critical discussions on global health issues.

Taiwan has been denied observer status at the annual WHA for the second year in succession due to pressure from China. The meeting is slated to kick off May 21 in Geneva.

​First Taiwan-US defense forum held

By Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, in Kaohsiung


Taipei Times

May 11th, 2018

The inaugural Taiwan-US Defense Business Forum was held yesterday in Kaohsiung to facilitate bilateral defense industry cooperation and ease Taiwan’s entry into the global defense supply chain.

The event at the Grand Hi-Lai Hotel was jointly organized by the Taiwan Defense Industry Development Association and the US-Taiwan Business Council.

The one-day event was part of the annual US-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference, a platform for dialogue on Taiwan’s national security needs, weapons procurement and defense cooperation that had been held every year in the US since 2002.

One attendee, retired lieutenant general Francis Wiercinski, a former US Army Pacific commander who is now senior vice president and managing director of US-based Cubic Corp, told reporters he was happy to participate in the event and conduct exchanges with partners in the region.

“We are all working with industry and trying to do better on both sides learning from each other,” Wiercinski said.

The forum’s focus on the shipbuilding, cybersecurity and aerospace industries reflects their importance to national security and their positive effect on the broader economy, Chinese Council of Advanced Policy Studies secretary-general Andrew Yang (楊念祖) said.

The environment for bilateral defense industry cooperation is generally positive due to the policy of US President Donald Trump’s administration and long-term US strategic interests and values, panelists said.

Council president Rupert Hammond-Chambers said he has high hopes for Trump’s commitment to assisting Taiwan’s defense capabilities, adding that Trump has “good people” in his administration.

Taiwanese businesses are already part of the global supply chain, which bodes well for the efforts of the nation’s defense industry for such participation, he said.

“I see no reason Taiwan should not succeed here,” he added.

BAE Systems industrial strategy vice president Philip Georgariou said Taiwan has a “few challenges and many more opportunities.”

However, the level of protection for intellectual property and trade secrets in Taiwan is an abiding concern for potential defense industry partners, he said.

Taiwanese corporations that have dealings with or subsidiaries in China need to properly firewall their organizations, because due diligence requires US industrial entities to have assurances that their sensitive technologies and secrets are safe, he added.

Commitments to protect intellectual property and information security are “essential to trust,” Hammond-Chambers said.

“If I can take down one barrier, one issue, it is IP [intellectual property] and trade secrets,” he said.

Another point of concern is Taiwan’s defense spending, which as a share of GDP has remained low, Hammond-Chambers said, calling President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) increases to the defense budget “modest” and “barely keeping up with inflation.”

Trump loomed large in Minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-chin’s (沈榮津) keynote speech.

Shen was effusive in his praise of the US president’s Taiwan policy, but he voiced carefully phrased concerns that Taiwan must adjust its policy according to shifting US priorities, saying that the nation has sustained “collateral damage” from Washington’s steel and aluminum tariffs against China.

Regarding defense spending as a share of GDP, Shen said the measurement does not take into account military personnel costs or force structure, and therefore presents an inaccurate reflection of Tsai’s commitment to national defense.


Lockheed Martin business development director for Asia-Pacific Robert Laing said there is significant opportunity for Taiwanese shipbuilders to cooperate with their US counterparts.

As Washington reorients its defense priorities from fending off terrorism to dealing with powerful rivals, the US Navy has renewed its interest in guided-missile frigates and anti-

submarine warfare, which match the Republic of China Navy’s needs, he said.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Liu Shyh-fang (劉世芳) said the Tsai administration plans to spend US$15.67 billion on the navy from this year to 2040.

While the naval program is currently focused on submarines, frigates, minelayers and amphibious transport docks, the navy would later move on to developing destroyers, landing helicopter docks, marine special operations craft and other ships, she said.

These measures would provide strong, sustainable demand for the domestic shipbuilding industry, she added.

However, during the question-and-answer session, association chairman Han Pi-hsiang (韓碧祥) stood up in the audience and issued a sharply worded critique of the government’s procurement policy.

Domestic shipbuilders are either “glutted to bursting or starving to death,” because government contracts have been sporadic and outsized, he said.

Under the current government procurement system, contractors have to complete large batches of ships before being paid, which is risky and drains them of funds, he added.

“Taiwan’s shipbuilding industry is a hard environment to survive in,” Han said. “I want to use this forum to communicate with the government and work out these problems.”

Additional reporting by CNA


Kaohsiung hosts US-Taiwan defense industry forum



The first US-Taiwan defense industry forum was held in the southern city of Kaohsiung on Thursday. The forum was co-chaired by the economics minister, Shen Jong-chin, and Francis Wiercinski, former Commander United States Army Pacific.

Wiercinski is currently a senior vice president at Cubic, a US company that supplies systems and services to the defense market. He praised the timing of the forum and said he looks forward to greater cooperation between the two sides. He declined to be drawn however on whether the US would assist Taiwan’s program to build its own submarines.

Shen, the economics minister, said the defense industry is one of the domestic sectors that the government is seeking to promote, not only for Taiwan’s own defense needs but also to stimulate the development of related technologies.

"The economics ministry will assist the defense ministry in moving forward our plans to build own trainer jets and submarines… and use the assistance of core US defense industry operators to establish key technical abilities for ourselves and in this way eliminate the [current] deficiencies in our aviation and shipbuilding supply chains," said Shen. 

Shen said he hoped the forum would show the US side Taiwan’s abilities in shipbuilding, data protection and aviation. He also expressed hope that US-Taiwan cooperation in key defense technologies would ultimately have applications for the civilian market.

Defense ministry thanks US for Taiwan clause



The defense ministry has expressed thanks to the United States for adding a clause related to Taiwan in its 2019 National Defense Authorization draft bill. The clause states the need to help Taiwan in its defense capability and to enhance exchanges between the two sides. Defense ministry spokesperson Chen Chung-chi was speaking on Tuesday.
"We have expressed gratitude and optimism for US aid in regional peace and stability. Of course, the draft bill has to be reviewed by the State Department and the Trump administration, but I believe it is what everybody anticipates every year," said Chen. "We hope that exchanges between the two sides through various channels can become more steady."
The bill also includes a ban on the use of Chinese brand cellphones on US military bases around the world. Chen said Taiwan’s military bases have long had a similar policy. Chen said the issue is not so much the brand of the cellphone but the importance that the military places on security protection.

US continues to back Taiwan’s WHA bid: AIT director



The United States continues to support Taiwan’s bid to attend the World Health Assembly (WHA). That’s the word from the head of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), Kin Moy, on Monday.

The WHA or the World Health Assembly is scheduled to hold its annual meeting in Geneva in late May but Taiwan has yet to receive an invitation.

Speaking at a workshop on laboratory diagnosis for enterovirus, Moy said the event demonstrates that Taiwan should be welcomed as part of the solution to global challenges because the country has significant experience in coping with challenges.

Moy said Washington is disappointed that Taiwan did not receive an invitation to attend the WHA last year.

"The United States continues to support Taiwan’s meaningful and substantive contributions to the international community. In particular, we have consistently supported Taiwan’s participation as an observer at the annual World Health Assembly and in technical meetings," said Moy.

Meanwhile, the health minister, Chen Shih-chung, said the United States and other countries that share the same values as Taiwan are speaking in favor of Taiwan’s WHA bid in a more active way than the previous year.

Premier’s cross-strait policy is maintaining the status quo: Official



Cabinet spokesman Hsu Kuo-yong says maintaining the status quo across the Taiwan Strait has long been Premier William Lai’s China policy. Hsu was speaking Monday.

Hsu’s comment came a day after the premier told the local media that he is a “pragmatic Taiwan independence worker.” Lai said Taiwan is an independent sovereignty and that there is no need to declare Taiwan independence. Lai also said only Taiwan’s 23 million people can decide its future.

Hsu said Lai’s comments do not run counter to the government’s existing China policy, which is maintaining the status quo. Hsu reiterated that the Republic of China is an independent sovereignty. The Republic of China is Taiwan’s official name.

Taiwan thanks US senators for WHA support



Taiwan’s representative office in the United States has issued a statement thanking US congressmen for speaking in favor of the country’s World Health Assembly (WHA) bid.

Taiwan has been barred from attending the World Health Assembly as an observer under the name “Chinese Taipei” since President Tsai Ing-wen took office in 2016.

Senators James Inhofe and Robert Menendez, co-chairs of the US Senate Taiwan Caucus, have submitted a proposal demanding that the secretary of state support Taiwan’s bid and map out a plan to help the country regain its observer status. They also demanded an explanation if Taiwan is not invited to attend this year’s event.

A press release issued by Inhofe’s office on Wednesday said Taiwan has demonstrated its ability to cope with global health challenges, but the country has been barred from attending the WHA’s annual meeting due to pressure from China. The press release also said helping Taiwan to regain its observer statue will prevent China‘s expansionism at international organizations.

Earlier this week, several members of the House of Representatives also voiced their support for Taiwan’s WHA bid.

Tsai highlights progress in US-Taiwan relations



President Tsai Ing-wen highlighted progress in US-Taiwan relations as she met a delegation from the think tank, the American Enterprise Institute, on Monday.

She said that US-Taiwan ties have made much progress in the past year. This includes US President Donald Trump’s announcement of arms sales to Taiwan. The US has decided to grant a license that is necessary for American firms to sell Taiwan the technology to build its own submarines. President Tsai said that this will help maintain cross-strait peace in the region.

China has opposed the move but the US says that the decision was made under the Taiwan Relations Act, which enables the US to help Taiwan defend itself.

President Tsai said that the US is an important and reliable partner to Taiwan. She highlighted the Taiwan Travel Act, which allows for greater high level exchanges between the two sides. She said the passing of that last month should lead to even stronger ties and exchanges. She hopes to see the two sides deepen their strategic partnership and cooperation in politics, security, economic and culture.

Taiwan will be heard regardless of WHA invite: Wu



The foreign minister, Joseph Wu, says Taiwan will make its voice heard regardless of whether it is invited to this year’s World Health Assembly (WHA).

The WHA is the convening body of the World Health Organization (WHO). Taiwan attended the annual assembly as an observer from 2009 to 2016. However, it was not invited last year due to pressure from Beijing.

On Wednesday, Wu delivered a report to the Legislature’s foreign affairs committee on efforts to secure an invitation to this year’s WHA. He said Taiwan should not be optimistic about its chances of attending this year.

However, he said that even without an invitation, Taiwan will still send a delegation to Geneva, where the WHA is held. There, Taiwan’s representatives will hold exchanges with health ministers from other countries. They will also hold a press conference, interviews, and discussions with representatives of friendly nations, allies, and health organizations.

Wu said Taiwan must ensure the WHO appreciates the importance of its participation in the WHA and that Taiwan’s dignity is upheld.

US-Taiwan ties stronger than ever: US Congresswoman



US Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen says relations between Taiwan and the United States are stronger than ever. The Republican Congresswoman from Florida was speaking Monday while meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen in Taipei.

President Tsai awarded Ros-Lehtinen an Order of Propitious Clouds with Special Grand Cordon to recognize her contributions to strengthening ties between the two countries.

Ros-Lehtinen said the main purpose of her trip is to forge stronger ties, and that there is room for improvement in the relations. She said Washington should keep its pledge to Taipei, because the style of living enjoyed by the Taiwanese is but a dream for people in China.

“Taiwan has a special place in the heart of all Americans. We know Taiwan for the special bond that we have with the people of Taiwan. Its vibrant economy, its open society, its free media, its freedom of expression, and the human rights that are respected and revered in this country. These are fundamental reasons why the United States is such a strong partner for Taiwan. And that’s why it is so important that we ensure that Taiwan remains Taiwan," said  Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

Ros-Lehtinen accused China of blocking Taiwan’s bid to join the global community. She said a priority of her meeting with President Tsai is to discuss how Washington can help Taiwan increase political, economic and military adaptability.

Travel act recognizes Taiwan’s democracy: Congressman



US congressman Ed Royce says the Taiwan Travel Act has become law because Taiwan and the United States both share democratic values. Royce, an author of the US bill, is the chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Both houses of Congress unanimously passed the Taiwan Travel Act, which was signed into law by President Donald Trump on March 16.

Under the bill, US officials at all levels are now allowed to travel to Taiwan to meet with their counterparts. The bill also permits senior Taiwanese officials to enter the US “under respectful conditions” and to meet with US officials, including from the State Department and the Pentagon.

Talking to Taiwan’s Central News Agency on Sunday, Royce praised Taiwan for upholding democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. He said one purpose of the Taiwan Travel Act is to make things easier for American officials visiting Taiwan.

Royce, a Republican, is set to retire at the end of his current term after serving in Congress for 26 years.

In Taiwan, U.S. Official Says Commitment ‘Has Never Been Stronger’


New York Times

MARCH 21, 2018

​TAIPEI, Taiwan — A State Department official on Wednesday reasserted America’s commitment to Taiwan’s defense at a dinner attended by its president, a day after China’s leader issued a stern warning against any challenges to China’s claim to the island.

“The aim of U.S. policy is to ensure that Taiwan’s people can continue along their chosen path, free from coercion,” the official, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Alex Wong, said at the banquet in Taipei, Taiwan’s capital, as President Tsai Ing-wen looked on.

Speaking to 700 people, including representatives of top American companies and senior Taiwanese officials, at an American Chamber of Commerce function, Mr. Wong said the United States wanted “to strengthen our ties with the Taiwan people and to bolster Taiwan’s ability to defend its democracy.”

“Our commitment to those goals has never been stronger,” added Mr. Wong, whose remarks came less than week after President Trump, over China’s objection, signed the Taiwan Travel Act, a measure encouraging official, high-level visits between the United States and Taiwan.

On Tuesday, President Xi Jinping of China issued a thinly veiled threat to Washington and Taipei during a speech to the National People’s Congress in Beijing. “Any actions and tricks to split China are doomed to failure,” Mr. Xi said in a stridently nationalistic speech, “and will meet with the people’s condemnation and punishment of history.”

The National People’s Congress this month removed term limits on Mr. Xi’s presidency, setting up the possibility he may hold the top posts of China’s government, military and the Communist Party for life.

In Taipei, Mr. Wong praised Taiwan’s democratic path and took a shot at Mr. Xi’s tightening grip on power. “Dynamic, broad-based and sustainable growth can never hinge on the whim of a dictator,” he said.

Hours after Mr. Xi’s speech, the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning traveled through the Taiwan Strait, according to a statement issued by Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense. Passing through the strait is increasingly commonplace for the Liaoning, though the Taiwanese ministry noted that the carrier stayed on the Chinese side and exhibited no unusual behavior.

The People’s Republic of China, as China is formally known, claims Taiwan as its sovereign territory. But the People’s Republic has never ruled Taiwan, which is administered by the Republic of China government that lost to Mao Zedong’s Communist forces in the Chinese civil war seven decades ago.

Taiwan is functionally independent, with its own Constitution, military, democratic elections, currency and customs regime. Republic of China passports carried by Taiwanese are accepted by immigration authorities around the world.

On the surface, the Taiwan Travel Act does not appear to change much. It offers only a “sense of Congress that the United States government should encourage visits between officials from the United States and Taiwan at all levels.”

But despite a highly polarized climate in Washington, the bill received remarkable bipartisan support, passing unanimously in both the House and the Senate in the face of a vigorous campaign by the Chinese ambassador to the United States, Cui Tiankai.

Mr. Cui took the extraordinary step of sending letters to members of Congress threatening “severe consequences” for the relationship between China and the United States if the measure passed, The Washington Post reported in October.

Relations between the world’s two largest economies were shaken in the first days of the Trump era, in December 2016, when Mr. Trump, then the president-elect, accepted a congratulatory phone call from Ms. Tsai. After becoming president, though, Mr. Trump reiterated America’s “one China policy,” which acknowledges but does not recognize Beijing’s claim on Taiwan, and sought Mr. Xi’s help in pressing North Korea over its nuclear weapons program.

But Mr. Trump has nominated Mike Pompeo, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, who is widely viewed as pro-Taiwan and tough on China, to succeed Rex W. Tillerson as secretary of state. And the confirmation of Randall Schriver, who is also seen as pro-Taiwanese, as assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs also suggested a closer and more open relationship with Taiwan.

Ms. Tsai said Wednesday night that she was “grateful to the Trump administration” for pushing ahead with the Taiwan Travel Act.

A test of how things might change under the legislation will come with the opening of a new diplomatic compound for the American Institute in Taiwan. The A.I.T. is the unofficial American diplomatic mission in Taiwan, staffed by State Department employees. Ms. Tsai said she would attend the compound’s opening, but it is not known who the highest-ranking American will be.

The United States broke off formal diplomatic ties with Taipei in 1979 in order to establish relations with Beijing, when both capitals claimed to be the sole ruler of China. Since then, Taiwan has effectively given up its claim to China, but Beijing still claims Taiwan.

American policy toward Taiwan is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, passed in 1979, which states that the future of the Taiwanese people must be decided peacefully, while requiring that the United States provide the island with means to defend itself.

In recent decades, Taiwan, once autocratic, has evolved from strategic American ally used to contain China into a vital and democratic trade partner important in the American technology supply chain.

“For senior U.S. officials, coming to Taiwan better enables them to appreciate the island’s critical role in global supply chains that produce semiconductors and other high-tech products that are crucial to U.S. industry,” said William Foreman, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei, in an interview.

The Taipei chamber has more than 1,000 members from roughly 500 companies. While addressing chamber members, Mr. Wong echoed administration complaints about Beijing’s approach to business and trade.

“Unfortunately, there are actors who fail to pay due respect for the obligations they have voluntarily signed up for,” Mr. Wong said. “When economies large or small are able to flout the rules, cheat their trading partners, force intellectual property transfer, protect national champions, steal trade secrets and use market-distorting subsidies, it undermines the integrity of the entire rules-based system.”Correction: March 22, 2018 

Trump signs Taiwan Travel Act into law



US President Donald Trump has signed the Taiwan Travel Act into law.

The act, signed on Friday, promotes visits by government officials between Taiwan and the United States.

Though Taiwanese officials have entered the US since the ending of diplomatic ties in 1979, the president, vice president, premier, foreign minister, and defense minister have been unable to visit Washington, D.C.

US cabinet members have also visited Taiwan since 1979, but have tended to focus on exchanges in areas such as business and education. They have usually avoided sensitive topics like national defense and foreign affairs.

On Saturday, Presidential Office spokesperson Sidney Lin thanked the US for its longstanding support for Taiwan. Lin said Taiwan will continue working towards more substantial cooperative ties with the US. He also said that Taiwan and the US will work together for regional peace, stability, and well-being.

Defense ministry says it has not requested F-35 jets from the US



Defense Minister Yen Teh-fa said Thursday that the ministry has not formally sent a request to the United States to buy F-35 fighter jets. Yen was answering questions at the Legislature.

Yen said the Air Force needs F-35 planes for combat purposes. But he said his office has not formally put in a request to the United States. Lawmakers repeatedly asked Yen for clarification on the issue.

Foreign ministry official Chen Li-kuo said his office will continue to talk with the US about Taiwan’s air defense needs as Taiwan faces threats from China.

Meanwhile, American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Spokesperson Sonia Urbom said the US holds to the Taiwan Relations Act. Although the two sides do not have official diplomatic relations, the act requires the United States to provide Taiwans with the weapons it needs to defend itself.

Urbom said she will communicate with the US Congress, but she is not in a position to comment on potential arms sales.

Taiwan committed to role in new 'Indo-Pacific Security Strategy'

2018/03/11 14:09:28

Focus Taiwan

Taipei, March 11 (CNA) Taiwan is prepared and committed to play an active role together with the U.S. and Japan to maintain regional peace and stability under the new "Free and Open Indo-Pacific" strategy, Deputy Foreign Minister François Wu (吳志中) said Sunday.

Speaking at an international seminar in Taipei on Taiwan's possible role in Indo-Pacific Security Strategy, Wu said recent years have brought new challenges to the region, especially with China's military activities and North Korea's nuclear weapons program increasingly destabilizing regional security.

"For this reason, we have been pleased to see the U.S. and Japan promoting a vision of an Indo-Pacific region that is grounded in democratic values. This will have the effect of safeguarding the region's freedom and openness," Wu noted.

All of the region's democracies must shoulder more responsibility to realize this vision and Taiwan is no exception, according to Wu.

"We remain committed to playing an active role, and will work with both the U.S. and Japan to maintain regional peace and stability," he added.

Wu said Taiwan, a democratic, Indo-Pacific nation, is well positioned for the new strategy as it has been pushing cooperation and exchange with neighboring countries, South Asian and ASEAN countries, through its New Southbound Policy since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) assumed office in May, 2016.

"We have been active and effective in developing new forms of cooperation and exchange with neighboring countries through the New Southbound Policy, showing that Taiwan is willing and able to contribute to regional peace and stability," he stressed.

Wu made the comments as he opened the "Taiwan's Opportunities under the Indo-Pacific Security Strategies" organized by Taiwan Thinktank. The half-day seminar was attended by Wallace Gregson, a retired U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant General, who most recently served as Assistant Secretary of Defense, Asian and Pacific Security Affairs and a number of retired senior military personnel from the U.S. and Japan. 

(By Joseph Yeh)

​US Senate passes Taiwan Travel Act



The US Senate on Wednesday passed the Taiwan Travel Act, which promotes visits by government officials between Taiwan and the United States. The bill now only requires a signature from President Donald Trump in order for it to become law.

Once the bill goes into effect, officials at all levels of the US government will be able to travel to Taiwan and meet with their Taiwanese counterparts. At the same time, high level Taiwanese officials will be allowed to visit the US under “respectful conditions” and meet with US government leaders.

In Taiwan, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Andrew Lee thanked the US Senate and House of Representatives for their consistent support. Lee said Thursday that the foreign ministry hopes to maintain a cooperative relationship with the United States.

Lee said, “The foreign ministry also wants to thank the US government for its friendly and open attitude in recent years in sending high level officials to Taiwan for exchanges on important issues. The foreign ministry will continue to develop more substantial cooperation with the US to push for common values and reciprocation from both sides, and for peace and stability in the region.”

The foreign ministry said it will maintain close communication with the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and respect the United States’ follow up arrangements regarding the bill. The AIT is the de facto US embassy in Taiwan in the absence of official diplomatic ties.

Meanwhile, Presidential Office spokesperson Alex Huang said Thursday that the United States is Taiwan’s most important ally in the international community. He said Taiwan thanks the US Senate for its long term support for Taiwan in many areas.

Former presidents back plan for 2019 independence referendum



Former presidents Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian have voiced support for a new plan to hold an independence referendum in 2019. Both former leaders spoke at a press conference held by backers of the plan on Wednesday.

In his address, Lee Teng-hui called referendums the “most powerful weapon of the people”. He said that through an independence referendum, Taiwan’s people can change the country’s official name to Taiwan under a new constitution. He also said that if this happens, the nation can apply to join international organizations under the name “Taiwan”.

Chen Shui-bian delivered his remarks through a pre-recorded video. After leaving office, Chen was sentenced to 20 years in prison for corruption. He is currently on medical parole. Chen called Taiwan a sovereign and independent country. He said that an independent Taiwan is not only his dream, but the dream of Taiwan’s people. He said it is a dream that must be realized and a dream he believes will be realized.

Tsai: Leaders of both sides must help maintain cross-strait exchanges



President Tsai Ing-wen says that the leaders of both sides of the Taiwan Strait must help maintain cross-strait exchanges.

Tsai was speaking Wednesday during an event held by the semi-official Straits Exchange Foundation to mark the Lunar New Year. Over 200 Taiwanese businesspeople working in China came to Taipei to attend the event.

During the event, Tsai said that Taiwan will continue to express goodwill while helping to maintain stable and predictable cross-strait ties. Tsai also said that ongoing cross-strait exchanges have brought people on both sides closer. She said the leaders of both sides must maintain these exchanges and cherish the results they have brought about.

Tsai also addressed Taiwan’s business community, saying that her administration will continue to work hard to help transform and upgrade Taiwan’s industries. She welcomed Taiwanese business people to invest locally.

US-Taiwan defense forum to be held in Taipei in May



Taipei will host a US-Taiwan defense forum in May. Taiwan is expecting top US officials to attend as US limits on top officials visiting Taiwan have been cancelled.

The focus of the forum will be on aerospace, building submarines and information security. The aim is to enable the US to understand Taiwan’s capabilities and to create a win-win situation. The specific plans for the forum will be made public by the end of March.

The organizer of the forum Chu Hsu-ming explains the importance of the forum. Chu said, "The US believes this forum is very important. This is not called the US-Taiwan defense industry meeting. I need to stress again that this has come from a routine meeting in the US. The two sides decided to call it the US-Taiwan Defense Forum. This forum is an extension of the principles of the US-Taiwan defense industry meeting."

Kuomintang lawmaker Ma Wen-chun said that Taiwan needs practical support from the US to deal with the growing threat from China. Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker Loh Chi-cheng said the forum shows the close cooperation between the US and Taiwan. It will also be a help to Taiwan’s defense industry. The forum can also be used as a platform for official dialogue between the two sides.

Tsai welcomes visiting group of US Senators



President Tsai Ing-wen has welcomed a visiting delegation of US Senators to Taiwan.

While meeting the delegation on Wednesday, Tsai said that the friendship between Taiwan and the US highlights the values the two sides share. She said that the values of democracy, rule of law, and the free market can only be realized with the support of countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region. She also said that Taiwan-US friendship will remain intact as long as the two sides continue to defend their shared values.

Tsai thanked the visiting Senators for their long-standing support of Taiwan, including efforts of members of the Senate’s Committee on Foreign Relations to pass the Taiwan Travel Act. The act encourages visits between US and Taiwanese officials. The committee passed the act earlier in the month, clearing its path forward towards becoming law.

Tsai also said that at a time of growing challenges to regional stability, Taiwan is happy to see the US continue its role of maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific Region. She said that in order to achieve the goal of maintaining regional stability, the US will need the help of other democratic countries in the region including Taiwan. She said that Taiwan will continue searching for more opportunities to work with the US.​

Taiwan's rep to US says ties could grow even closer



Taiwan’s representative to the United States, Stanley Kao, says Taiwan's close relationship with the US has the potential to improve even further. Kao was speaking Sunday during a parade held in Washington, D.C. to mark the Lunar New Year.

Kao called the Republic of China's independent sovereignty an “objective fact and the status quo.” The Republic of China is Taiwan’s official name. He said the government will continue to defend Taiwan’s democratic values.

Kao was responding to remarks made by US State Department official Susan Thorton at a hearing of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations last week. Thorton said that Washington “does not recognize Taiwan as an independent country.” Thorton, the acting Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, is responsible for US policy towards Taiwan, China, and Mongolia.

Kao said there are no barriers when it comes to communication between the US and Taiwan, adding that Taiwan has made its position on sovereignty clear to the US. Kao also said that Taipei and Washington have made noteworthy achievements in their bilateral ties over the past year.

​Taiwan Travel Act clears U.S. Senate Foreign Affairs Committee

The Congress moved a step forward on promoting visits between U.S. and Taiwanese officials at all levels, including top military officers 

Taiwan News

By Sophia Yang,Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2018/02/08 12:30

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The U.S. Congress moved a step forward on promoting visits between the U.S. and Taiwanese officials at higher levels. On Wednesday, February 7, the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations advanced the Taiwan Travel Act, after the House passed the bill on January 10.

The act will allow officials at all levels of the U.S. government to travel to Taiwan to meet their Taiwanese counterparts, permit high-level Taiwanese officials to enter the United States and to meet with U.S. officials and encourage the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office, and any other instrumentality established by Taiwan, to conduct business in the United States.

Sen. Bob Corker, the chairman of the committee, reportedly said before voting that Taiwan is a friend and partner of the United States, who provides assistance to the U.S. in many ways. Sen. Bob Menendez said that the stability in the Taiwan Strait is a core national security interest for the U.S. and that the two share the same values of democracy and human rights, according to a UDN report.

If the bill passed by the Senate becomes law, it would mark a milestone in U.S.-Taiwan relations since 1979, when visits of high-level officials between the two sides switched to an unofficial basis. In 1979, Washington shifted diplomatic recognition from the Republic of China, better known as Taiwan today, to China, and ever since the U.S. has maintained unofficial diplomatic ties with Taiwan and a self-imposed restriction on high-level visits with Taiwan.

A major pro-independence Taiwan lobbying group FAPA said in a statement Wednesday that "the passage of the act continues the momentum of the signing into law of the National Defense Authorization Act on December 12 which, among other issues, lists the Taiwan Relations Act and the 'Six Assurances' as continuing US legal commitments.”

FAPA President Peter Chen concluded that "the U.S. and Taiwan are allies that share common values and the removal of these self-imposed restrictions will promote greater cooperation between the two nations and enhance mutual economic, political, and security interest.”

In response to the progress of the Act, the Chinese publication Global Times published an article mid-January to express its alarm at the potential passage of the Taiwan Travel Act, with a threatening passage stating that China "will surely act to make sure Taiwan and the US pay the price for their "high-level exchanges."

Taiwan to make stronger push to participate in this year’s WHA



Taiwan is making a renewed effort to participate in the World Health Assembly (WHA) this year. That’s after it was shut out of the annual World Health Organization (WHO) meeting last year, due to pressure from China, which claims to provide for Taiwan’s health needs.

Several countries spoke out on behalf of Taiwan at a meeting of the WHO’s executive board last week. Those countries were the United States and several of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies, including Swaziland, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Haiti. The upcoming World Health Assembly will take place in Geneva, Switzerland from May 21-26.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung responded on Monday to calls for a more forceful push to participate this year.

“We are actively making preparations and will consider all possibilities. As for criticism that we have not been forceful enough in making proposals to the executive board, we have the ability to do that, but if we take one step forward and speak loudly, then we could be pushed two steps backward, erasing any progress that we’ve made," said Chen. "But I guarantee that this year, we will be more forceful than last year.”

Chen said Taiwan would continue to let the world see its contributions in the field of health care.

Second Apache squadron to enter service in mid-2018



Taiwan's second squadron of Apache attack helicopters is likely to enter service later this year. That’s the word from an army officer, speaking on Sunday under condition of anonymity.

The nation’s first combat squadron of Apaches was commissioned last year under the Army Aviation and Special Forces Command. The officer said that the second squadron has undergone rigorous operational testing and evaluation and is likely to enter service in mid-2018.

The officer said that the launch of the first squadron shows that the Apache is combat-ready. He said the formation of an additional squadron means it has full combat and defense capabilities.

The command's 601st Brigade has been training personnel and upgrading its equipment since 2013. Taiwan purchased 30 AH-64E Apache helicopters from the United States for about NT$59.3 billion (US$2.06 billion), including personnel training and logistics. It then took delivery of the choppers between November, 2013 and October, 2014.

Presidential Office reiterates Taiwan’s identity as a nation



The Presidential Office on Monday reiterated Taiwan’s status as a nation. That was in response to the latest development in China’s push for international companies to recognize Taiwan as part of Chinese territory.

A number of international companies, including fashion giant Zara, as well as Delta Air Lines, and the Marriot hotel chain had listed Taiwan as a country on their website. Over the weekend, the Chinese government ordered the companies to correct the wording and apologize for the categorization. All of them complied.

Presidential Office Spokesperson Alex Huang responded on Monday. He said that there is no question that Taiwan is a country. He said that Taiwan is a trustworthy member of the international community for the values that it upholds, including freedom and democracy.

Huang also said he hopes China can treat Taiwan with respect and understanding.  

US House of Representatives passes Taiwan Travel Act



The US House of Representatives has passed the Taiwan Travel Act. The act, passed Tuesday, encourages visits between US and Taiwanese officials at all levels of government.

Also on Tuesday, the House of Representatives passed a bill that directs the US Secretary of State to “to develop a strategy to regain observer status for Taiwan in the World Health Organization”.

Taiwan began attending the organization’s annual World Health Assembly as an observer in 2009, but has been blocked from returning since last year due to friction with Beijing over President Tsai Ing-wen’s cross-strait policy. The report also requires the Secretary of State to deliver a report if Taiwan is still unable to attend the World Health Assembly in the future.

The two pieces of legislation will now have to be passed in the US Senate and gain the signature of US President Donald Trump in order to become law.

On Wednesday, Presidential Office spokesperson Sidney Lin thanked the US Congress for treating the Taiwan-US relationship with importance.

​Taiwan calls for talks with China on aviation issues

2018/01/07 18:43:02

Taipei, Jan. 7 (CNA) Taiwan is calling for discussions with China on issues related to aviation management in the Taiwan Strait, in the wake of China's recent unilateral activation of four aviation routes close to the median line of the strait.

Last week, China reneged on a 2015 cross-strait agreement with Taiwan and unilaterally activated four new aviation routes in the Taiwan Strait -- a northbound path on the M503 route and three east-west extension routes called W121, W122 and W123.

The M503 at its nearest point is only 7.8 km from the centerline of the strait and close to the Taipei Flight Information Region, while the W122 and W123 are close to Taiwan's offshore islands of Matsu and Kinmen, respectively.

China's move to open the four flight routes without prior negotiation with Taiwan has sparked concerns in Taipei about potential intrusions into domestic flight routes to and from Matsu and Kinmen.

Detailing such concerns, Lin Kuo-shian (林國顯), director-general of Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA), said Xiang'an International Airport, under construction on China's southeast coast, is just 10 kilometers from Kinmen.

The Xiang'an airport in Xiamen, which is being built to ease congestion at Gaoqi International Airport in the same city in Fujian Province, is scheduled to be completed in 2020, he noted.

If the new airport begins operations without prior cross-strait negotiations, it will have a huge impact of air traffic in and out of Shang Yi Airport in Kinmen, as it is even closer than the Gaoqi airport, Lin said.

Expressing similar views, another CAA official Shiue Shao-yi (薛少怡) said it is essential for civil aviation authorities in China and Taiwan hold discussions on flight route controls and other relevant issues before the Xiang'an airport opens.

He declined, however, to comment on aviation experts'speculations that when the new airport opens, a new flight route will be launched from Xiang'an to link with Taiwan's domestic routes to and from Kinmen.

It is not yet clear what routes Xiang'an airport will use, Shiue said. 

(By Wang Shu-fen and Evelyn Kao)

Taiwan should be part of CPTPP talks: Canadian op-ed



An op-ed piece in the Canadian newspaper Globe and Mail says Taiwan should be included in the second round of talks on the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

The author, Glen Hodgson, is a former member of the Conference Board of Canada. He said in a December 29 article that Canada should “hit the reset button” on its trade talks with Asia. He said Canada’s focus should be Asia as a whole and not just China in order to advance its trade interests.

Hodgson said there are a number of countries that are attractive markets for Canadian exporters and investors. He cited among these Taiwan, Columbia, Indonesia and Thailand. He said these countries could be included in the second round of CPTPP discussions. Hodgson said other countries are welcome if they meet the criteria.

Defense ministry opens up on US arms sales


December 26, 2017

The defense ministry has published a report on US arms sales to Taiwan, an issue that has been shrouded in secrecy in the past.

The report out Tuesday covers information on the procedures of arms sales, military exchanges as well as inspections of military exercises.

The defense ministry said the report aims to “increase the transparency of military affairs” to bring more public support for the armed forces. It also said the report has nothing to do with the National Defense Authorization Act recently signed by the US president, Donald Trump.

The report also addresses China’s military ambitions till 2050. Defense ministry official Liu Ching-yuan talked about the People’s Liberation Army’s development.

“The PLA has decided to build digitized and mechanic troops by 2020, modernize its military by 2035 and possess a world-class military in 2050. We are monitoring the situation. As to whether [the PLA] has the ability to take over Taiwan by 2020, we have been monitoring the situation," said Liu.

To deter an attack, the military has adopted a strategy that places an emphasis on coastal defense. 

U.S. reaffirms Taiwan Relations Act in national security strategy

Focus Taiwan

Washington, Dec. 18 (CNA) The United States reaffirmed its commitment to providing defensive weapons to Taiwan under the Taiwan Relations Act, in a new national security strategy (NSS) unveiled on Monday by U.S. President Donald Trump.

"We will maintain our strong ties with Taiwan in accordance with our 'One China' policy, including our commitments under the Taiwan Relations Act to provide for Taiwan's legitimate defense needs and deter coercion," according to the NSS report.

The report identifies China and Russia as revisionist powers that are among challengers actively competing against the United States, its allies and partners.

It says China seeks to displace the United States in the Indo-Pacific region, expand the reach of its state-driven economic model and reorder the region in its favor.

China's efforts to build and militarize outposts in the South China Sea endanger the free flow of trade, threaten the sovereignty of other nations, and undermine regional stability, the report notes.

China is using economic inducements and penalties, influence operations, and implied military threats to persuade other states to heed its political and security agenda, according to the NSS report.

Asked to comment on the report, American experts on Asia said it shows U.S. policy toward Taiwan has not changed and that arms sales to Taiwan will continue.

"I don't see anything new in Trump's position since receiving President Tsai's congratulatory phone call and then speaking with President Xi," said Douglas H. Paal, vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, who served as the director of the American Institute in Taiwan from 2002 to 2006.

Tsai refers to Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and Xi to China's President Xi Jinping (習近平).

The NSS has no clear implications for arms sales, but the general policy statement will certainly be interpreted in America as authorizing future sales, Paal said in an e-mail response to CNA.

The NSS is pretty clear that it means the U.S. will resist expansion of Chinese influence in the region, whether or not it can change the trajectory of China's accumulation of power, Paal said.

Meanwhile, Bonnie S. Glaser, a senior adviser for Asia and the director of the China Power Project at CSIS, said the new NSS will not have any impact on any specific decision regarding U.S. policy toward Taiwan.

"It is just a reiteration of U.S. policy. Nothing new," she said.

Noting that the U.S.-China relationship has been characterized by competition and cooperation for at least a decade, Glaser said she expects the two will continue to work together where interests converge.

The U.S. cannot stop China from developing its military capabilities, but it can try to influence how China uses them, Glaser said.

In the South China Sea, a strategy is needed that persuades the Chinese that the cost is too high to use their newly created islands to impair freedom of navigation or to challenge others' sovereignty claims, she added.

However, she admitted it could be a very difficult challenge because China has made a lot of headway in this area. 

(By Rita Cheng, Chiang Chin-yeh and Evelyn Kao)

US security report cites continued support for Taiwan



Foreign ministry official Chen Li-kuo has thanked the US for its continued support of its relations with Taiwan. Chen was speaking on Tuesday after the first US National Security Strategy report of the Trump administration was announced Monday.

The report mentioned the US interpretation of its One China policy. It emphasized arms sales to Taiwan for defensive purposes in accordance with the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act. The report also gave priority to Taiwan’s role under military and security issues in Indo-Pacific strategy.

Chen said Tuesday that the emphasis on US support for Taiwan is a positive development.

"The report was the first National Security Strategy report since President Trump took office. It cited security cooperation with Taiwan. It shows Trump’s affirmation of Taiwan as an important security and economic partner for the US in the Asia-Pacific region. [Trump] reaffirmed US security support towards Taiwan," said Chen.

Chen said the report cited the US principles on maintaining regional security and trade liberalization, which he said are in line with Taiwan’s government policies and strategic interests.

Meanwhile, the Presidential Office also thanked the US for its support of Taiwan. Presidential spokesperson Sidney Lin said the US had briefed Taiwan prior to the publication of the report. Lin said the US government also mentioned the need to cooperate with its allies. 

China urged not to escalate tension across the Taiwan Strait



Taiwan’s Presidential Office has urged China not to escalate tensions across the Taiwan Strait. That’s the word from Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang on Monday.

Huang’s comments came after a Chinese aircraft flew through the Bashi Channel between Taiwan and the Philippines, toward the Pacific Ocean on Monday morning.

Huang said any act that escalates military tension and could endanger regional peace and security is irresponsible, adding that it is not what the international community would like to see.

“In the past, we have strived to maintain cross-strait peace and stability, in line with public opinion and the domestic consensus," said Huang. "[Taiwan] continues to send friendly gestures to China, with the hope of gradually easing confrontations and differences through friendly interaction. I believe these steps taken by Taiwan are the correct steps in the right direction.”

Meanwhile, the defense ministry says there is no cause for alarm as the armed forces are closely monitoring China’s military moves. Defense Minister Feng Shih-kuan was at the military command center on Monday morning to monitor the situation in person.

Foreign minister condemns Chinese ambassador’s threat



The foreign minister, David Lee, has condemned words by China’s ambassador to the United States threatening a military attack on Taiwan. Lee was answering questions in the Legislature on Thursday concerning a US act that strengthens Washington’s support of Taiwan.

The US president, Donald Trump, signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on Tuesday. Two areas that have drawn attention are the prospect of Taiwan conducting military drills with US forces and the possibility of US warships docking at Taiwan’s ports.

New Power Party legislator Freddy Lim asked Lee about China’s response to the act. The Chinese ambassador to the United States, Li Kexin, had said the day an American warship docked in Kaohsiung would be the day the PLA would “liberate” Taiwan. The foreign minister called the ambassador’s words inappropriate and unhelpful.

Lee said, "The US commitment to Taiwan’s security has been clearly laid out since 1979’s Taiwan Relations Act. We find the words of the [Chinese] ambassador to the United States to be extremely inappropriate and hurt the feelings of the people of Taiwan. This kind of action and speech will not help the positive development of cross-strait ties and may well have the opposite effect."

Trump signs NDAA, strengthening defense partnership with Taiwan



US President Donald Trump signed on Tuesday the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which has clauses on strengthening the US defense partnership with Taiwan.

The act reinforces commitments to support Taiwan’s defense through the Taiwan Relations Act and Six Assurances. It also lists the Sense of Congress which includes inviting Taiwan military forces to participate in military exercises. It suggests carrying out exchanges of senior military officers, training Taiwan personnel, studying the feasibility of port of call exchanges and transferring defense articles and services to Taiwan.

Taiwan’s Presidential Office said on Wednesday that the US is Taiwan’s most important ally. It thanked the US for its long term support in providing defense weapons and the US Congress for working for laws that strengthen the US-Taiwan defense partnership.

The Presidential Office said that as a member of international society, Taiwan will continue to strengthen its partnership with the US and work for the peace and welfare of the region.

At a forum on Wednesday, Premier William Lai also discussed US-Taiwan ties. 

"Basically, as Taiwan faces the threat of China, it needs the support of the US, Japan, Korea and even the global community. We need to work hard in strengthening our nation- our national defense- to maintain Taiwan’s sovereignty and safety. We of course also want the support of international society, so if the US is willing to help, I think that is good for Taiwan," said Lai. 

Taiwan Needs to Urgently Upgrade Deterrence and Defense

By Shirley Kan

The Global Taiwan Brief Volume 2, Issue 42 - Global Taiwan Institute

December 13th, 2017

Shirley Kan is a retired Specialist in Asian Security Affairs who worked for Congress at the Congressional Research Service (CRS) and a member of GTI’s Advisory Board.

The US-Taiwan partnership remains robust under Presidents Donald Trump and Tsai Ing-wen, who could understand each other well. Both inherited security challenges. Trump places priority on defeating the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and dealing forcefully with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)’s threats. Tsai inherited an erosion in Taiwan’s self-defense against China. Taiwan also has an opportunity, one that might never arise again in such positive, triple alignment: support for a stronger Taiwan in the Congress, Trump Administration, and US Pacific Command (PACOM). Yet, concerns are rising about Taiwan’s insufficient urgency for deterrence and defense against coercion and conflict. Trump and Tsai could carry on this conceivable conversation.

Trump-Tsai Phone Call

Trump: President Tsai, you lead a magnificent democracy in the Indo-Pacific. Taiwan has never had a better friend in the US than now. We have a golden opportunity for a fantastic economic and security partnership. Taiwan is our 10th largest trading partner. I am leading the strongest ever pressure for North Korea’s denuclearization. Taiwan has banned all trade with that menace and has a tremendous US radar for missile defense. Taiwan stands in solidarity with freedom-loving nations. In October, you reached out to China for a breakthrough—an excellent speech. Taiwan has bought billions of dollars in U.S. weapons—the world’s best! 

Tsai: President Trump, Taiwan appreciates the strategic partnership with American friends.

Trump:  I want the US military to be at the strongest level and defense spending at $700 billion. But international security is a shared burden. Invest in your military. You won one election. Hopefully, Taiwan will hold future elections and not see the end of your beautiful democracy! 

Tsai:  What do you mean? Taiwan’s people defend our democracy. But we get different, conflicting answers when we ask for assistance from your State Department, particularly for our Indigenous Defense Submarine (IDS) program. 

Trump: I’ll look into that, believe me. I did tell Congress that I would go ahead with $1.4 billion in arms sales—long overdue. But as a fantastic friend, I must be honest. You inherited tremendous problems—like I did. We discuss with your Defense Ministry—in many meetings—that its budget is not sufficient. It’s worse than par.  Right after you stopped in Hawaii, I stopped there for my long trip to Asia. The great Admiral Harris at PACOM told me his formula for deterrence: Capability x Resolve x Signaling = Deterrence. You need all three. Taiwan must show the will to protect your prosperity and homeland. It’s peace through strength. Defend against threats and stand strong against tyrants. You are running out of time. The longer you wait, the bigger the danger, and the fewer options for Taiwan. Thank you. Terrific call. 

The Most Serious Threat Since 1949

This scenario of a plausible, second exchange reflects rising concerns about three gaps.  There is a gap between Taiwan’s leadership and some military officers who worry about the most serious threat since the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was founded in 1949. Taiwan’s actions do not adequately match its rhetoric for credible deterrence and defense. The United States has a gap with Taiwan on the urgency to upgrade armed forces against the PRC.

Remarkably, a reminder to Taiwan in 2005 is still salient.  At that year’s US-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense Richard Lawless issued a critical speech. The US stressed that the Taiwan Relations Act entails mutual obligations and intends for Taiwan to fulfill its obligation for sufficient self-defense. The United States warned Taiwan’s people, “we cannot help defend you if you cannot defend yourself.”

Taiwan lost at least a decade to modernize its military. President Ma Ying-jeou (2008-2016) resumed cross-Strait dialogue but weakened Taiwan’s defense. He ordered the shift from conscription to a volunteer force. However, a volunteer force needs bigger budgets, and Ma failed to grow defense spending to 3 percent of GDP (Taiwan’s own objective). The Pentagon reported that in 2016, Taiwan’s defense budget totaled $10.5 billion, compared to the Republic of Korea’s (ROK) budget of $32.8 billion. Both Taiwan and the ROK confront existential threats.

Taiwan has Lost Time

Tsai became President with high—but as yet unmet—expectations to reverse the erosion in Taiwan’s defense. Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) indicated boosts in the budget for strategic, military, political, and economic reasons, given its stress on indigenous defense programs. Partisan politics no longer offer an excuse, since Tsai’s party also won control of the Legislative Yuan (LY). The DPP might be defensive against political criticism that Taiwan, under Ma’s Kuomintang (KMT) administration, did not face China’s threat. In reality, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) continued to focus on Taiwan despite any lower tension, as the Pentagon warned in every report to Congress about China’s military power from 2009 to 2016.

With louder alarms, Washington is waking up Taipei from complacency. Last June, National Security Council Advisor Matt Pottinger and other officials gave a blunt message to Taiwan’s visiting former officials. The US side reminded Taiwan that its security has depended on China’s restraint and possible US intervention, but Taiwan needs to rely on self-defense. US officials posed a question for Taiwan: “what about four or eight years from now?” They commented that Taiwan’s defense budget has fallen no matter which party was in power and that Taiwan’s shift away from conscription was a mistake. 

After more warnings to Taiwan in the summer, the Defense Department publicized the Administration’s coordinated speech in October. David Helvey, who was then Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, pointedly pressed Taiwan. At a US-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference, he purposefully cautioned Taiwan that the PLA’s growing capabilities, large-scale exercises, and increased ability to conduct joint operations “present a growing threat of a credible invasion force.” He warned that China is building the capability to coerce and, if directed by the Communist Party of China (CPC), to “compel unification by force.” Also, Helvey said, “today, it is incumbent upon Taiwan to spend more on defense; it is incumbent on Taiwan to invest, modernize, train, and equip its armed forces with a 21st century deterrent,” he urged. The KMT refused to send a representative to the conference.

In other words, Taiwan cannot fight the PLA of ten years ago. Frustration about Taiwan’s insufficient military manpower and money is focused on instability, not US arms sales (as Taiwan wrongly assumes). 

The “Pottery Barn Rule”

Secretary of State Colin Powell warned President George W. Bush about war in Iraq: if you break it, you own it. Even if Tsai did not “break” Taiwan’s defense, she “owns” it now. 

Moreover, Taiwan must deal with dangerous developments. In 2015, Xi Jinping ordered structural reforms to improve the PLA’s joint operations. The PLA’s new Strategic Support Force (SSF) could target Taiwan, especially with cyber operations, according to the Pentagon. As part of Xi’s strengthening of power at the 19th Congress of the CPC in October, he masterminded the PLA’s largest purges of senior officers. The younger, more professional PLA will accelerate advancement of potential war-fighting for unification as Xi’s legacy. 

The DPRK regime has increased its ability to threaten catastrophe. The Trump administration departed from past “business as usual” by leading intense international pressure against the DPRK and its patron, the PRC regime. In Taiwan, some ask wrong questions about whether the tension with the DPRK is good (foolish) or bad for Taiwan (fearful of a US-PRC deal). Actually, Taiwan faces different precarious problems.  Taiwan is close to the DPRK’s and PRC’s dangers, while the US military stretches its readiness from Afghanistan to Africa to Asia.

Policy Impasses and Options

There is progress. The United States and Taiwan have developed multiple channels of candid, constructive communication, especially around the time of Tsai’s stop in Honolulu in October. Taiwan’s leadership recognizes requirements in the short term, not just requests for the long term (such as next-generation F-35B fighters). Taiwan asks about programs in which it should invest. Helvey already articulated US support for some of Taiwan’s indigenous systems as asymmetric deterrents to the PLA’s invasion force. These systems include land-based and sea-based anti-ship cruise missiles, multiple-launch rocket systems, small fast attack boats, unmanned aerial vehicles, coastal defense artillery, and naval mines. 

Still, Taipei and Washington need straight talk about military training or exercises, equipment, and personnel (the paramount factor). With Tsai’s requested 3.9 percent uptick from 2017’s budget, Taiwan’s 2018 defense budget would be NT$331.8 billion (US$11 billion)—only 1.9 percent of GDP—if not cut in the LY. Taiwan could raise readiness of more reserves, conscripts, and volunteers. Taiwan could see that its Navy needs MH-60R helicopters. Dealing with Ching Fu Shipbuilding's case, Taiwan needs to protect defense technology and the honor of military officers who devoted their careers to their country. The State Department could end obfuscation and convey credible, consistent decisions about assistance for Taiwan’s IDS program. The United States and Taiwan could agree about Taiwan’s Air Force, including its decisions on outdated F-5 fighters, expensive Mirage fighters, and trainers. One option is to add to the US upgrade of Taiwan’s existing F-16A/B fighters to F-16V fighters by deciding on a program of new F-16 Block 70/72 fighters. As Helvey acknowledged, “Taiwan still requires some major end-items.” 

The main point: Taiwan’s people are not doing enough with urgency for deterrence and defense against China, risking democracy, destabilization, and divergence in bilateral cooperation with the United States. 
Link to article with embedded links to citations:
Shirley Kan

Referendum threshold lowered to 1.5% of voters



The Legislature on Tuesday passed an amendment to the referendum law.

The amendment reduces the threshold to initiate a referendum from 5% of the total number of votes in the most recent presidential election to 1.5%, or 280,000 votes. A referendum may be passed if it receives one fourth or more of the total number of votes.

The Democratic Progressive Party’s chief of staff, Liu Chao-hao, said the lowering of the threshold means the public can exercise their rights. Liu said, "What our party advocates follows the example of the presidential election act. If independent candidates wish to run for president, they only have to get the support of 1.5% to become eligible. Therefore, we advocate a threshold of 1.5% for referenda. On one hand, the move will make it easier for citizens to exercise their rights. On the other hand, we will be setting a limit of 280,000 signatures. We believe the number is a good representation."

Moreover, the voting age will be reduced from the current 20 years to 18. The amendment also calls for the elimination of the referendum review committee. Absentee ballots will also be accepted. However, any referendum that concerns the constitution or cross-strait issues will not be allowed.

China, Taiwan spar over Chinese diplomat's invasion threat

Ben Blanchard, Jess Macy Yu
DECEMBER 10, 2017 / 10:00 PM

BEIJING/TAIPEI (Reuters) - A threat by a senior Chinese diplomat to invade Taiwan the instant any U.S. warship visits the self-ruled island has sparked a war of words, with Taipei accusing Beijing of failing to understand what democracy means.

China considers Taiwan to be a wayward province and has never renounced the use of force to bring it under its control. The United States has no formal ties with Taiwan but is bound by law to help it defend itself and is its main source of arms.

Beijing regularly calls Taiwan the most sensitive and important issue between it and the United States. In September, the U.S. Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act for the 2018 fiscal year, which authorises mutual visits by navy vessels between Taiwan and the United States.

At a Chinese embassy event in Washington on Friday, diplomat Li Kexin said he had told U.S. officials that China would activate its Anti-Secession Law, which allows it to use force on Taiwan if deemed necessary to prevent the island from seceding, if the United States sent navy ships to Taiwan.

“The day that a U.S. Navy vessel arrives in Kaohsiung is the day that our People’s Liberation Army unifies Taiwan with military force,” Chinese media at the weekend quoted Li as saying, referring to Taiwan’s main port.

Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said late on Saturday that, while Chinese officials seemed to want to try and win over hearts and minds in Taiwan, they also had been repeatedly using threats that hurt the feelings of Taiwan’s people.

“These methods show a lack of knowledge about the real meaning of the democratic system and how a democratic society works,” the ministry said.

China suspects Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, who leads the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, wants to declare the island’s formal independence. Tsai says she wants to maintain peace with China but will defend Taiwan’s security.

Relations between China and Taiwan were becoming even more complex and severe, Zhang Zhijun, head of China’s policy-making Taiwan Affairs Office, told a visiting delegation of the New Party, a small pro-China Taiwan opposition party on Monday.

Taiwan independence forces are trying to root out Chinese culture in Taiwan and are the gravest threat to peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, the official Xinhua news agency cited Zhang as saying.

China will never back down over Taiwan, influential Chinese tabloid the Global Times, published by the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, said earlier on Monday.

“Li’s words have sent a warning to Taiwan and drew a clear red line,” it said in an editorial.

“If Taiwan attempts to hold an independence referendum or other activities in pursuit of de jure ‘Taiwan independence’, the PLA will undoubtedly take action.”

China would continue to maintain the principle of peaceful unification, foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said on Monday.

“At the same time, we will resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he told reporters.

Additional reporting by Michael Martina in BEIJING; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Clarence Fernandez

Tsai thanks US policy organization for support



President Tsai Ing-wen has thanked the US-based nonprofit policy organization the National Committee on American Foreign Policy (NCAFP) for its long-term support in Taiwan-US relations. Tsai was speaking on Thursday while receiving an NCAFP delegation in Taipei.

Tsai said Taiwan plays an active role in regional affairs and hopes that neighboring countries can work together to maintain regional peace and prosperity. She said her government’s New Southbound policy has brought growth in trade, tourism and exchanges with other countries in the region.

Tsai said Taiwan will continue to work with the US and thanked the Trump administration’s support for Taiwan.

Tsai said, “We would also like to thank the Trump administration for its support through the Taiwan Relations Act by announcing an arms deal for Taiwan in June. In order to strengthen Taiwan’s defense, we will be increasing our national defense budget in the future for the procurement of advanced hardware.”

President Tsai told the delegation that Taiwan is a trustworthy partner and also a responsible actor in the international community.

A Smarter Way to Sell Arms to Taiwan

International Policy Digest

02 DEC 2017
Yu Ding

On the Kinmen Island only a few miles east of mainland China, Taiwan deploys anti-ship missiles, surface-to-surface missiles, monitoring radar and remote howitzers. Among these arms directly pointing at China, the most advanced ones are from the United States.

Every round of U.S. eye-catching and pricy arms package sales to Taiwan irritates China. These sales of advanced armaments lead to intense condemnation of Washington and sanctions against U.S. companies. However, by changing current arms package sales to the approach of a steady stream of small deals, the United States can relieve tensions with China and better fulfill its security commitment to Taiwan.

The U.S. has sold arms to Taiwan since establishing diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China. These arms sales help the U.S. to fulfill the security commitment to the island based on the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act (TRA). However, with the current approach, the U.S. is failing to help Taiwan to deter China, and also risks U.S.-Taiwan-China trilateral relations.

Instead, the U.S. can sell more arms, especially those for defensive purposes, to Taiwan in a steady stream of small increments. The U.S. should announce and deliver arms packages separately, bringing the price tag for each sale below $1 billion. The advantages of this approach are significant:

Bolster U.S. credibility. China’s severe complaints about U.S. arms sales raise insecurity and doubts not only in Taiwan, but also with other U.S. allies in the region: South Korea and Japan. With the suggested approach—selling more arms, but below the radar — the United States can uphold its security commitments as well as international obligations. It will significantly enhance U.S. credibility in the region, especially among U.S. allies.

Stabilize U.S.-Taiwan-China trilateral relations. Smaller arms deals between the U.S. and Taiwan are much less likely to irritate China. China will find it difficult to impose severe sanctions because of an arms deal only worth millions of dollars. The U.S. has been balancing between China and Taiwan since 1979, and has successfully avoided significant conflict across the strait. Peace has provided the environment for the growth of Taiwan’s democracy, as well as the vast increase of trade between the U.S. and China. This policy will help the U.S. to maintain the status quo.

Secure Taiwan and its democracy. The increased number of arms sold will equip Taiwan with better capability to deter China. If China were to conduct an attack, Taiwan would be able to resist longer before the U.S. came to rescue. Facing the rapid rise of Chinese military power and the prospect of decreased U.S. arms sales, Taiwan has become more and more vulnerable against China. This policy will help to secure Taiwan and its democracy.

 How can the U.S. implement this policy effectively? The U.S. can reach a private agreement on larger multi-year deals with Taiwan, in order to keep arms production lines open. However, public announcements of arms agreements should be small and incremental. Like past arms deals, the arms sales under this policy can be operated by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency in the Department of Defense. Even though there is a chance that China may find out about the private agreement, it will be hard for China to create a pretext for war building on rumors.

The U.S. has been keeping “a robust unofficial relationship” with Taiwan for decades. This relationship has assisted the “Taiwan Economic Miracle” in the 1980s, promoted Taiwan’s democratization in the 1990s, and secured the well-being and confidence of Taiwanese people in the 21st century. U.S. support underpins Taiwan’s sovereignty and democracy, and arms sales are the central element of that support. Moreover, the U.S. security commitment to Taiwan is vital to the geopolitical balance in East Asia, hence crucial to the U.S. and its allies’ security.

With this increased yet less risky arms sale approach to Taiwan, the U.S. will be able to not only secure Taiwan and its allies in East Asia, but also the U.S. homeland. Last but not least, it will help the U.S. to preserve both the reality and its image as a world leader and guardian of democracy.

​Schriver eyes deeper US-Taiwan ties

Taipei Times
Staff writer, with CNA, WASHINGTON

‘QUALITATIVE EDGE’:The nominee for US assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific affairs said he believes Taiwan could ‘hopefully defeat a Chinese invasion’

Randall Schriver, who has been nominated for US assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific affairs, on Thursday said he would make strengthening ties with security partners such as Taiwan a priority if his nomination is confirmed.

“If confirmed, it will be a priority to invest in our security partners in Taiwan and Singapore, and emerging partnerships with countries such as Vietnam,” Schriver said at a nomination hearing held by the US Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington.

“For this administration’s vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific to be realized, we must position ourselves to prevail in the long-term strategic competition we face vis-a-vis the People’s Republic of China,” he told the committee in his opening statement.

The US should continue to look for opportunities to cooperate with China where the two countries’ interests overlap, Schriver said, but he acknowledged that finding such opportunities would be a challenge.

“The Chinese Communist Party’s vision for a new security architecture in Asia with China at the center is in many ways at odds with our own aspiration for the region,” he said. “If confirmed, I will approach the duties of my position with an understanding that a rising China presents the most consequential security challenge of my generation.”

In response to a question from Senator Tom Cotton on whether the level of US sales of weapons to Taiwan is sufficient to deter Chinese aggression, Schriver answered: “We have more work to do there.”

Cotton also raised the concern that China always has a quantitative advantage over Taiwan’s military and he asked whether it also had a qualitative advantage right now.

“In certain niche areas they do, but overall, I think Taiwan maintains a qualitative edge to the point where they could deter and hopefully defeat a Chinese invasion,” Schriver said. “There are scenarios short of invasion, coercion scenarios, which are very dangerous for Taiwan.”

Schriver, a former Taipei Times columnist, served as chief of staff and senior policy adviser to then-US deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage from 2001 to 2003.

He took the helm of the Project 2049 Institute — a US think tank dedicated to researching security trends in Asia — after serving as deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs from 2003 to 2005.

Xi: Taiwan most sensitive issue in China-US ties



The Presidential Office said Thursday that it looks forward to see US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping actively develop regional stability, peace and prosperity. The office was commenting on the meeting between Trump and Xi during Trump’s first visit to China as president.

Meanwhile, Mainland Affairs Council’s spokesperson Chiu Chui-cheng said that the US adherence to the Taiwan Relations Act, the Six Assurances and support for the development of cross-strait ties are Washington’s promises to Taiwan. Chiu said Taiwan welcomes the enhancement of exchanges between the US and Taiwan. He said the government will continue to watch the situation in the Asia-Pacific region and strengthen regional cooperation.

Earlier on Thursday, Xi Jinping told Trump that Taiwan is the most important and sensitive issue in China-US relations. That’s according to a report from Reuters taken from China’s state news agency Xinhua.

Xi said the Taiwan issue is the political basis for China-US relations. He said China is willing to have mutual respect, reciprocity, and cooperation to bring more benefits to the people on both sides. Xi said he hopes that the US will continue to abide by the One China policy.

Trump said both China and the US are superpowers in the world and are important trading partners. He said both sides share a wide range of common interests and that there are huge prospects for future cooperation. Trump said that the US government adheres to its One China policy.

Neither Trump nor Xi mentioned Taiwan at a joint press conference after their meeting.

Taiwan willing to work with China on cross-strait ties



Taiwan is willing to work with Mainland China on cross-strait relations for the benefit of people on both sides. That was the word from Katharine Chang, the head of the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC).

Chang reiterated President Tsai Ing-wen’s stance on cross-strait ties. She said Taiwan will continue to extend goodwill towards China and that it will neither confront China nor succumb to pressure.
Chang also said she hopes cross-strait communication will resume soon.

Chang said, "[The two sides] should work together based on the same beliefs and towards the same goals. I hope that the two sides can resume communication soon, and that the communication will not be related to politics."

Beijing cut off official communications with Taipei after President Tsai took office last May due to Tsai’s refusal to acknowledge the so-called 1992 Consensus. The consensus represents a tacit agreement on "one China" between China’s ruling Communist Party and Taiwan’s then-ruling Kuomintang in 1992. The Tsai administration does not accept the consensus as legitimate.​

Trump to continue arms sales to Taiwan: report


November 14th, 2017

The American president, Donald Trump, made clear to Beijing last week that Washington will not end arms sales to Taiwan and will continue to provide Taiwan with weapons of a defensive nature. That’s the word from a White House official cited by the Washington Free Beacon. Trump visited China last week as part of a 12-day Asia trip.

Trump and the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, mentioned Taiwan at their meeting though they did not bring up the matter at the press conference afterwards. The White House official cited in the report said China raised its opposition to US arms sales to Taiwan. Trump in response said that the US abides by its One China policy on the basis of the Three Communiques and the Taiwan Relations Act. He said the US will provide defensive weapons to Taiwan in line with its obligations under law.

The Washington Free Beacon report said there was no discussion of a fourth joint communique on Taiwan nor any talk of a “grand bargain” between the two presidents.

Three joint communiques concerning Taiwan were issued by the US and China in 1972, 1979 and 1982. The Taiwan Relations Act of 1979 legislated for US ties with Taiwan after Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing.

U.S. defense policy bill addresses partnership with Taiwan

2017/11/10 15:51:26

Focus Taiwan

Washington, Nov. 9 (CNA) The U.S. government should strengthen its defense partnership with Taiwan by exchanging port calls and inviting Taiwan to military exercises, according to a provision in the annual defense policy bill adopted by U.S. congressional committees.

The National Defense Authorization Act for 2018 was agreed upon by the House of Representatives and the Senate Armed Services Committees on Wednesday and included two sections on Taiwan.

To become law, the bill must be passed by both the House and Senate in identical form and then signed by U.S. President Donald Trump.

In the section on strengthening the U.S-Taiwan defense partnership, the bill states: "It is the policy of the United States to reinforce its commitments to Taiwan under the Taiwan Relations Act and consistent with the 'Six Assurances' as both governments work to improve Taiwan's self-defense capability."

The United States should strengthen and enhance its longstanding partnership and cooperation with Taiwan and conduct regular transfers of defense articles and defense services necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability, the bill says.

It also says, the U.S. should invite Taiwan to participate in military exercises, such as the "Red Flag" exercises and conduct bilateral naval exercises, to include pre-sail conferences in the western Pacific Ocean.

Other measures mentioned in the bill are programs of exchanges of senior military officers and senior officials with Taiwan, supporting expanded exchanges focused on practical training for Taiwan personnel by and with United States military units, and considering the advisability and feasibility of reestablishing port of call exchanges between the United States navy and the Taiwan navy.

In the section on normalizing the transfer of defense articles and defense services to Taiwan, the bill says any requests from Taiwan for such articles and services should be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the U.S. secretary of defense, in consultation with the U.S. secretary of state.

No later than 120 days after a letter of request is received from Taiwan, the secretary of defense should submit a report to the appropriate congressional committees, the bill states. 

(By Chin-ye Chiang and Y.F. Low)

​​US officials welcome Taiwan to Global Entry program


November 1, 2017

The US Customs and Border Protection said on Tuesday that Taiwan joining the Global Entry program is a display of the partnership between the US and Taiwan. Taiwan entered the program that offers travelers speedier entry to the US on Wednesday. Taiwan operates a similar system of its own, the e-Gate.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) held a press conference to make the announcement. This was a rare occasion where top US officials held an event with Taiwan’s representative to the US. CBP Acting Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said this enables reliable travelers on both sides to enjoy more convenient entry and shows the partnership between the US and Taiwan. American Institute of Taiwan (AIT) Managing Director John Norris said this program will strengthen US-Taiwan ties and he looks forward to more breakthroughs in the future.

Taiwan is the 13th country in the world and the 4th in Asia to join the US Global Entry program. It joins on November 1, the fifth anniversary of Taiwan gaining visa-free treatment from the US.
Taiwan’s representative to the US Stanley Kao also thanked the US for giving President Tsai Ing-wen a comfortable, safe, convenient and dignified stopover in the US. Tsai is currently visiting Pacific allies. Kao said he hopes that US-Taiwan ties can see new milestones.

Kao also answered reporters’ questions about the upcoming meeting between US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping. He said Taiwan and the US have many communication channels for these issues and he is grateful that the US has spoken on strong US-Taiwan ties at public events.

​​​​Taiwan President Calls for Breakthrough in China Relations

Oct. 25, 2017, at 10:27 p.m.
US News and World Report
TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan and China need to drop historical baggage to seek a breakthrough in relations, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said in her first public comments since China's ruling Communist Party unveiled a new leadership line-up.

Relations nose-dived after Tsai, who leads the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, took office last year, with China suspecting that she wants to push for the island's formal independence, a red line for Beijing.

Beijing has suspended a regular dialogue mechanism with Taipei established under Taiwan's previous, China-friendly government, and there has been a dramatic fall in the number of Chinese tourists visiting Taiwan under Tsai's administration.

"Right now is a turning point for change. I once again call on leaders of both sides to ... seek a breakthrough in cross-straits relations and to benefit the long-term welfare of people on both sides and to forever eliminate hostilities and conflict," Tsai told a forum.

While acknowledging the changes in China's leadership announced on Wednesday, Tsai did not comment specifically on the composition of Xi's core team.ADVERTISING
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But she reiterated that while the island's goodwill towards China would not change, Taipei would not submit to pressure.

Responding to Tsai's speech, China's Taiwan Affairs Office said the political basis for relations across the Taiwan Strait was the "one China" principle, which states that the mainland and Taiwan are part of one China.

As long as that is recognized, there are no obstacles to any talks between the sides, the office said in a statement carried by state media.

China has been stepping up the pressure on Taiwan.

This year, China's air force has carried out several rounds of drills near Taiwan, prompting the island's air force to scramble fighters.

Defence Ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang said Taiwan was a part of China and the military exercises would continue as normal, adding that China was sincere in seeking "peaceful reunification".

"At the same time, we have the ability, confidence and means to protect the country's unity, sovereignty, security and territorial integrity," he told a monthly news conference in Beijing later in the day.

Chinese President Xi Jinping drew strong applause at last week's start of the Communist Party Congress when he said any attempt to separate Taiwan from China would be thwarted.

Taipei's Mainland Affairs Council delivered a swift response, saying it was "absolutely" the right of Taiwan’s 23 million people to decide their future.

China regards self-ruled and democratic Taiwan as a wayward province, to be brought under Beijing's rule by force if necessary.

(Reporting By Jess Macy Yu; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in BEIJING; Writing by Anne Marie Roantree, Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

New Southbound Policy does not preclude cross-strait trade: Official



Minister without Portfolio John Deng says that the New Southbound Policy does not mean giving up on cross-strait trade.

Under the New Southbound Policy, Taiwan seeks closer ties with Australia, New Zealand, and the countries of South and Southeast Asia. In a report, the Control Yuan, the top government watchdog, says that the policy means walking away from the Chinese market.

During a radio interview Wednesday, Deng said that China’s market is large. But he said that Southeast Asian countries have higher economic growth rates, making it important not to give up on the markets of these countries either.

Deng said it is important for Taiwan to spread out its markets for its long-term economic health. He said Taiwan does not intend to give up on the Chinese market, but there is rapid growth in Southeast Asia, as well as a demand for Taiwanese products.

Cross-strait policy based on public consensus: Pres Office



The Presidential Office says the government’s cross-strait policy is based on public consensus. That’s the word from Presidential Office spokesperson Alex Huang on Monday.

Huang was responding to the results of a survey which showed that 52% of those polled found President Tsai Ing-wen’s cross-strait policy unsatisfactory. The survey was conducted by the Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation, a non-partisan think tank.

Huang said the government is dedicated to maintaining cross-strait peace and stability and has continued to send friendly gestures to China. Huang also said the efforts made by the government have been recognized by the international community.

Huang said that several opinion polls, including one conducted by the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), show that a majority of the Taiwanese people support the government’s China policy. “Basically, the government’s cross-strait policy is based on the public consensus and the core values of the country,” he said.

Does China really pose a threat to Taiwan?

Asia Times


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
Taiwan News

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.




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


Focus Taiwan
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

Taipei Times

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

Focus 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

August 21

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


Focus Taiwan

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.



of Virginia

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.[1] 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.[2]

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.”[3] 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.[4]

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.”[5]

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.”[6] Reagan also wrote that day in his diary that “truth is we are standing with Taiwan and the PRC made all the concessions.”[7] 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.

[1] 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).
[2] James Lilley with Jeffrey Lilley, China Hands (New York: Public Affairs, 2004), 251-252.
[3] White House, “Remarks by the President to the Business Council,” February 24, 2000.
[4] This paragraph is based on the author’s interviews with former Representative Lester Wolff, March and April 2017.
[5] 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.
[6] Lilley, China Hands, 248.
[7] 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

Focus Taiwan


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

108th Congress

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

China Post

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.[1]

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).[2]

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.

Lessons Learned

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

RTI News


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

The Hill


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

Focus Taiwan

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. 

The Politic

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

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

Taipei Times

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Focus Taiwan
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

Focus Taiwan
(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.

'One-China' Policy

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

Taiwan Sun
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

Taipei Times

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.