Posted tagged ‘China’

India China Standoff in High Himalayas Pulls in Tiny Bhutan

July 14, 2017

India China Standoff in High Himalayas Pulls in Tiny Bhutan, Global Security Org., Anjana Pasricha, July 13, 2017

Despite some calls in Bhutan to settle its border with China without worrying about Indian interests, political analysts say public opinion largely favors New Delhi’s firm stand on the Doklam plateau.

But while in the past such border standoffs have been resolved quickly, this time around there are no signs the issue is getting resolved, nearly a month after it erupted.

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A tense standoff between India and China in the high Himalayas is being played out not on the disputed borders between the two Asian giants, but on a plateau claimed by China and Bhutan. Many analysts say the face off is also a play for power in the tiny, strategically located country, which is India’s closest ally in South Asia, but where Beijing wants to increase its presence.

Indian troops obstructed a Chinese road-building project at Doklam Plateau around mid-June. The area also known as “Chicken’s Neck” is hugely strategic for India because it connects the country’s mainland to its northeastern region.

New Delhi cites its treaties with Bhutan, with which it has close military and economic ties, for keeping its soldiers in the area despite strident calls by Beijing to vacate the mountain region.

As the standoff drags on, there are fears in New Delhi that Beijing is also testing its ties with Bhutan, the tiny nation that has made gross national happiness its mantra, but where worries are growing about a big power conflict on its doorstep.

Analysts point out that China wants to wean Bhutan away from India and expand ties with a country with which it has no diplomatic ties.

“At a strategic level, China would like to separate India from Bhutan, they would like to open up Bhutan to their greater influence, that goes without saying,” said Manoj Joshi, a strategic affairs analyst at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi.

One small move at a time

According to political analysts, it is not the first time the Chinese have built a road in a disputed area in Bhutan, which has a disputed border with China at several places in the high Himalayas.

“They have done the same in other areas, built roads in mountains and valleys and then claimed it was their territory during border negotiations,” said a Bhutanese political analyst who did not want to be identified. “It has been a hot button issue here, and has been repeatedly debated in parliament.”

These “encroachments” are seen as efforts by Beijing to muscle into Bhutan in the same manner as it has done in South China Sea. Analysts call it a “salami slicing” tactic.

But Bhutan, which worries about being drawn into the rivalry between the two large neighbors, has maintained a studied silence on the latest dispute, except to issue one demarche calling on Beijing to restore the status quo in the area.

“Bhutan has done well, so far, to avoid both the fire from the Dragon on our heads and also the Elephant’s tusks in our soft underbelly. We must keep it this way,” Bhutanese journalist Tenzing Lamsang wrote for The Wire.

Despite some calls in Bhutan to settle its border with China without worrying about Indian interests, political analysts say public opinion largely favors New Delhi’s firm stand on the Doklam plateau.

Influence at stake

While keeping the Chinese out of the strategic plateau is India’s immediate concern, there is also concern about maintaining its influence in Bhutan, which is a buffer between China and India.

India has watched warily as Beijing has steadily increased its presence in its neighborhood in recent years as countries like Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka have also been increasingly drawn into the Chinese sphere of influence by the promise of massive investments in roads, ports and other infrastructure.

In India there are concerns that the same should not happen in Bhutan, its most steadfast ally. Saying the Chinese have been applying pressure on the Bhutanese border, analystManoj Joshi said. “If Bhutan were to go the way of say Nepal, where Indian influence is now questioned, it would make a difference, that buffer would vanish.”

India’s foreign secretary S. Jaishankar this week expressed confidence that India and China have the maturity to handle their latest dispute and it will be handled diplomatically. “I see no reason why, when having handled so many situations in the past, we would not be able to handle it,” he said.

But while in the past such border standoffs have been resolved quickly, this time around there are no signs the issue is getting resolved, nearly a month after it erupted.

China says Sino-British Joint Declaration on Hong Kong no longer has meaning

July 2, 2017

China says Sino-British Joint Declaration on Hong Kong no longer has meaning, China Daily Mail, July 1, 2017

Hong Kong

China said on Friday the joint declaration with Britain over Hong Kong, which laid the blueprint over how the city would be ruled after its return to China in 1997, was a historical document that no longer had any practical significance.

In response, Britain said the declaration remained in force and was a legally valid treaty to which it was committed to upholding.

The stark announcement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry, that is sure to raise questions over Beijing’s commitment to Hong Kong’s core freedoms, came the same day Chinese President Xi Jinping said in Hong Kong the “one country, two systems” formula was recognized “by the whole world”.

It was not immediately clear if Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang was attacking just the idea of continued British involvement in Hong Kong, which marks the 20th anniversary of Chinese rule on Saturday, or the principles in the document.

The Sino-British Joint Declaration, signed in 1984 by then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang, laid out how Britain would end its century-and-a-half long rule over Hong Kong. It also guarantees the city’s rights and freedoms under the “two systems” formula.

Under Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law, Hong Kong was guaranteed its freedoms for “at least 50 years” after 1997.

Lu told reporters during a regular briefing on Friday that the document no longer binds China.

“Now Hong Kong has returned to the motherland’s embrace for 20 years, the Sino-British Joint Declaration, as a historical document, no longer has any practical significance, and it is not at all binding for the central government’s management over Hong Kong. The UK has no sovereignty, no power to rule and no power to supervise Hong Kong after the handover,” Lu said.

Britain said it had a legal responsibility to ensure China abided by its obligations under the declaration.

“The Sino-British Joint Declaration remains as valid today as it did when it was signed over 30 years ago,” a British Foreign Officespokeswoman said.

“It is a legally binding treaty, registered with the U.N. and continues to be in force. As a co-signatory, the UK government is committed to monitoring its implementation closely.”

On Thursday, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Britain hoped that Hong Kong would make more progress toward democracy.

“Britain’s commitment to Hong Kong – enshrined in the Joint Declaration with China – is just as strong today as it was 20 years ago,” Johnson said. “I’ve no doubt that Hong Kong’s future success will depend on the rights and freedoms protected by that treaty.”

Reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing and Michael Holden in London; Writing by Venus Wu; Editing by Nick Macfie and Alison Williams)

Source: Reuters – China says Sino-British Joint Declaration on Hong Kong no longer has meaning

Spotlight: China, U.S. reach consensus at high-level security dialogue

June 24, 2017

Spotlight: China, U.S. reach consensus at high-level security dialogue, XinhuaNet, June 24, 2017

(The words sound friendly, but what do we get at what cost? — DM)

Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi (1st R) co-chairs a diplomatic and security dialogue with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (1st L) and Secretary of Defense James Mattis (2nd L) as Fang Fenghui (2nd R), a member of China’s Central Military Commission (CMC) and chief of the CMC Joint Staff Department, also participates in the dialogue in Washington D.C., the United States, on June 21, 2017. China and the United States began their first diplomatic and security dialogue on Wednesday at the U.S. State Department in Washington D.C. (Xinhua/Yin bogu)

At the dialogue, China the United States agreed to work closely on the Korean Peninsula’s nuclear issue.

Both countries reaffirmed their commitment to achieving the goal of “complete, verifiable and irreversible” denuclearization on the Peninsula.

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WASHINGTON, June 23 (Xinhua) — China and the United States reached an important consensus on the development of bilateral relations and security issues at a high-level dialogue held Wednesday in the U.S. capital of Washington D.C.

The First Round of China-U.S. Diplomatic and Security Dialogue, which was described by both sides as “constructive” and “fruitful,” represents a major step in implementing the consensus reached by Chinese President Xi Jinping and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump during their meeting in Florida in April.

Looking ahead, the two sides pledged to expand mutually-beneficial cooperation and manage differences on the basis of mutual respect, all in a bid to promote the steady development of China-U.S. relations in the long term.

FREQUENT DIALOGUES

Following Wednesday’s dialogue, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said such talks “provide an opportunity to consider how we’re going to engage and how we’re going to live with one another over the next 40 years.

“The action items we have agreed upon today have set a foundation for additional areas of cooperation and we look forward to our next interaction at this level and between our two presidents,” said the top U.S. diplomat.

Emphasizing the importance of high-level exchanges, China and the United States expressed their willingness to achieve a positive outcome for the Hamburg meeting between the two Presidents in July and Trump’s state visit to China later this year.

Meeting with Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi at the White House on Thursday, Trump said he looked forward to meeting with Xi in Hamburg and visiting China. He also hoped that these high-level interactions will further promote the development of U.S.-China relations.

PRODUCTIVE MILITARY RELATIONSHIP

Fang Fenghui, a member of China’s Central Military Commission (CMC) and chief of the CMC Joint Staff Department, participated in the dialogue co-chaired by Yang, Tillerson and U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

At the dialogue, China and the United States recognized that their military-to-military relationship is an important component in the bilateral ties. The two sides agreed that the relationship between the militaries of the two powers should be “constructive, pragmatic, and effective,” according to a statement released Friday.

China and the United States are committed to implementing the annual military exchange program and enhancing high-level engagements, starting with the visits between the two defense ministers and the visit of the Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff to China as soon as possible.

The two sides also “reaffirm the importance of building mutual understanding, and of reducing the risk of miscalculation between our two militaries,” said the statement.

MAINTAINING COORDINATION ON KOREAN PENINSULAR ISSUE

At the dialogue, China the United States agreed to work closely on the Korean Peninsula’s nuclear issue.

Both countries reaffirmed their commitment to achieving the goal of “complete, verifiable and irreversible” denuclearization on the Peninsula.

“The two sides are ready to continue their efforts to this end, including by fully and strictly implementing relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions, and by promoting relevant dialogue and negotiation,” said the statement.

The two countries also reaffirmed their commitment to maintaining peace and stability on the Peninsula, according to the statement.

Trump Launches First FONOP in South China Sea

May 26, 2017

Trump Launches First FONOP in South China Sea, American Interest, May 25, 2017

This patrol has been a long time coming. Along with others, we have been wondering whether the Trump administration had so far declined to approve FONOPs in a gambit to solicit China’s cooperation on North Korea. If that logic indeed held sway early on, it seems that the administration has now changed its tune, rightfully recognizing that going easy on China in one dispute won’t guarantee its cooperation on another.

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For the first time since President Trump took office, the U.S. Navy has conducted a freedom-of-navigation operation in the South China Sea, provoking a predictable protest from Beijing. Reuters:

A U.S. Navy warship sailed within 12 nautical miles of an artificial island built up by China in the South China Sea, U.S. officials said on Wednesday, the first such challenge to Beijing in the strategic waterway since U.S. President Donald Trump took office.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the USS Dewey traveled close to the Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands, among a string of islets, reefs and shoals over which China has territorial disputes with its neighbors.

China said its warships had warned the U.S. ship and it lodged “stern representations” with the United States. China said it remained resolutely opposed to so-called freedom of navigation operations.

This patrol has been a long time coming. Along with others, we have been wondering whether the Trump administration had so far declined to approve FONOPs in a gambit to solicit China’s cooperation on North Korea. If that logic indeed held sway early on, it seems that the administration has now changed its tune, rightfully recognizing that going easy on China in one dispute won’t guarantee its cooperation on another.

The exercise also sends an important signal in its own right that the U.S. refuses to recognize China’s claims, and that it will not remain passive as Beijing seeks to expand its maritime reach. That message comes none too soon, as China has lately been working out bilateral deals with its rival claimants while the U.S. has appeared missing in action. Let’s hope this is not a one-off but the start of a more active and engaged phase of the Trump administration’s South China Sea policy.

More, please.

U.S. Options in Syria Don’t Include Ground Troops

April 10, 2017

U.S. Options in Syria Don’t Include Ground Troops, PJ Media, David P. Goldman, April 10, 2017

FILE – In this file image provided on Friday, April 7, 2017 by the U.S. Navy, the guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) launches a tomahawk land attack missile in the Mediterranean Sea. The U.S. missile attack has caused heavy damage to one of Syria’s biggest and most strategic air bases, used to launch warplanes to strike opposition-held areas in central, northern and southern Syria. (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ford Williams/U.S. Navy via AP, File)

The war has already displaced half of Syria’s 22 million people, and Iran plans to replace Sunnis with Shi’ite immigrants in order to change the demographic balance. The Sunni side of the conflict has become globalized with fighters from the Russian Caucasus, China’s Xinjiang Province, as well as Southeast Asia.

The U.S. State Department last year estimated that 40,000 foreign fighters from 100 countries were in Syria; Russia cited a figure of 30,000. Whatever the number is today, it would not be difficult to add a zero to it.

Russia and China must be frightened of America’s prowess, especially in military technology. A Reagan-style effort to established unquestioned U.S. supremacy in military technology is the Big Stick we require. Tomahawk missiles are not a Big Stick. They speak loudly. Trump was magnificently right to send the signal to Moscow and Beijing, especially (as Secretary Tillerson said) in the light of Russia’s duplicity or incompetence in the matter of Syrian poison gas. Now we need to get to work.

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Writing in the Washington Post, neo-conservatives Reuel Gerecht and Ray Takeyh propose to send U.S. ground troops to fight Iran and its proxies in Iran and Syria:

It is way past time for Washington to stoke the volcano under Tehran and to challenge the regime on the limes of its Shiite empire. This will be costly and will entail the use of more American troops in both Syria and Iraq. But if we don’t do this, we will not see an end to the sectarian warfare that nurtures jihadists. We will be counting down the clock on the nuclear accord, waiting for advanced centrifuges to come on line. As with the Soviet Union vs. Ronald Reagan, to confront American resolution, the mullahs will have to pour money into their foreign ventures or suffer humiliating retreat.

They’re nuts.

It isn’t Iran that we would be fighting: It’s an international mercenary army that already includes thousands of fighters recruited from the three million Hazara Afghans now seeking refuge in Iran, from the persecuted Pakistani Shi’ites who comprise a fifth of that country’s huge population, and elsewhere. As I reported recently in Asia Times:

The IRGC’s foreign legions include volunteers from Afghanistan and Pakistan, where Shi’ites are an oppressed minority often subject to violent repression by the Sunni majority. IRGC-controlled forces include the Fatemiyoun Militia recruited mainly from Shi’ite Hazara refugees from Afghanistan, with reported manpower of perhaps 12,000 to 14,000 fighters, of whom 3,000 to 4,000 are now in Syria. Iranians also command the Zeinabiyoun militia composed of Pakistani Shi’ites, with perhaps 1,500 fighters in Syria.

The manpower pool from which these fighters are drawn is virtually bottomless. The war has already displaced half of Syria’s 22 million people, and Iran plans to replace Sunnis with Shi’ite immigrants in order to change the demographic balance. The Sunni side of the conflict has become globalized with fighters from the Russian Caucasus, China’s Xinjiang Province, as well as Southeast Asia.

The U.S. State Department last year estimated that 40,000 foreign fighters from 100 countries were in Syria; Russia cited a figure of 30,000. Whatever the number is today, it would not be difficult to add a zero to it.

Russia and China, as I explained in the cited Asia Times essay, blame the U.S. for opening the Pandora’s Box of Sunni radicalism by destroying the Iraqi State and supporting majority (that is, Shi’ite) rule in Iraq. Sadly, they are broadly correct to believe so. Thanks to the advice of Gerecht and his co-thinkers at the Weekly Standard and Commentary, the Bush administration pushed Iraq’s and Syria’s Sunnis into the hands of non-state actors like al-Qaeda and ISIS.

A seventh of Russia’s population is Muslim, and 90% of them are Sunnis. China has a restive Muslim population among the Uyghurs in its far West, and all of them are Sunnis. Moscow and Beijing therefore support Shi’ite terrorists as a counterweight to Sunni jihadists. A Eurasian Muslim civil war is unfolding as a result. Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum thinks America should let Sunnis and Shi’ites exhaust each other. If it were just Syria, that would make sense, but the Syrian conflict is the nodal point for a much larger and more dangerous conflagration. If the 300 million Muslims of Southeast Asia were to become involved, the consequences would be horrific.

Gerecht and Tayekh want the U.S. to back the anti-regime forces whom Obama left twisting in the wind during the 2009 demonstrations against Iran’s rigged elections. That is the right thing to do. The Trump administration should create a special task force for regime change in Iran and recruit PJ Media’s Michael Ledeen to run it. Iran is vulnerable to subversion. With 40% youth unemployment and extreme levels of social pathology (the rate of venereal disease infection is twenty times that of the U.S.), Iranians are miserable under the theocratic regime.

But I don’t know if that will work: Iran gets all its money from oil, and the mullahs have the oil, the money, and all the guns. If we can’t overthrow the Iranian regime, we will have two choices.

The first is to bomb Iran — destroy nuclear facilities and Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps bases. That risks war with Russia and China. It is an option, but a dangerous one, and not anyone’s first choice. We could have done this before Iran became a Russian-Chinese ally.

The second is to cut a deal with Russia and China: We muzzle the Sunni jihadists whom we (or our allies like Saudi Arabia) supported, and Russia and China cut Iran off at the knees. I sketched out such a deal in August 2016. It won’t happen easily, or any time soon, because Russia and China are not sufficiently afraid of us to want to come to the table. Russia would demand other concessions (e.g., recognition of its acquisition of territory by force in Ukraine). As the use of poison gas despite past Russian assurances makes clear, one can’t trust the Russians unless, of course, they really are scared of us.

So it all comes down to Grand Strategy: Russia and China must be frightened of America’s prowess, especially in military technology. A Reagan-style effort to established unquestioned U.S. supremacy in military technology is the Big Stick we require. Tomahawk missiles are not a Big Stick. They speak loudly. Trump was magnificently right to send the signal to Moscow and Beijing, especially (as Secretary Tillerson said) in the light of Russia’s duplicity or incompetence in the matter of Syrian poison gas. Now we need to get to work.

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Update: Christina Lin, a former senior U.S. Defense Department analyst and fellow at SAIS (and frequent Asia Times contributor), told The Diplomat in an interview today:

As a recent Israeli intelligence report documented, there are thousands of Chinese Uyghurs fighting in the ranks of al-Qaeda affiliates and ISIS in Syria, namely in the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) based in Idlib — an al-Qaeda stronghold. The August 30, 2016 bombing of the Chinese embassy in  Krgyzstan, planned by TIP in Syria and financed by Al Nusra, signals increasing threats to Chinese citizens and interests overseas if Syria becomes a terrorist safe haven.

Because of “inter-mingling” with Ahrar al Sham and other so called “moderate” jihadists, TIP and Nusra enjoy U.S. and its allies’ protection even though they are designated as terrorist organizations. The have procured advanced Western weapons such as U.S.-supplied anti-tank TOW missiles, Grad missiles, and likely anti-aircraft MANPADS, and drones that they used to record their recent suicide campaigns against the Syrian army. These Western weapons enhance their war fighting capabilities to launch future attacks on China and Chinese interests, so Beijing will likely step up its military support to the Syrian army. Chinese military advisers are already on the ground in Syria, according to media reports.

Commentary: Xi-Trump meeting to assure world on China-U.S. ties

April 5, 2017

Commentary: Xi-Trump meeting to assure world on China-U.S. ties, Xinhua Net, Zhang Chunxiao, Meng Na,  April 5, 2017

(They will probably reach agreement on all the “important” stuff, but not such “trivia” as Taiwan, the South China Sea disputed territories, North Korean nukes and missiles and the defense of South Korea and Japan using THAAD. — DM)

BEIJING, April 5 (Xinhua) — Chinese President Xi Jinping and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump will meet in Florida, the United States, from Thursday to Friday to set the tone for the future development of bilateral relations.

The Mar-a-Lago meeting, the first between the two presidents since Trump took office in January, will dispense with much of the formality usually entailed in a state visit, focusing on effective communication of issues of common concern.

For those alarmed that uncertainties might arise from policy adjustments of the Trump administration, the meeting sends a positive and reassuring message that the two countries lay great stress on stability in their relationship.

Since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1979, China and the United States have had their share of ups and downs, but cooperation has remained the main theme, especially now given their greater-than-ever interdependence and increasing convergence of interests.

The two countries have come a long way, with two-way trade of goods surging 207-fold from 1979 to 519.6 billion U.S. dollars in 2016. Bilateral investment amounted to more than 170 billion dollars at the end of last year. They also cooperated in the fight against terrorism, climate change and other issues of global impact.

Accomplishments like these speak volumes about how beneficial a sound China-U.S. relationship can be, not only to the two peoples involved, but the world at large. Cooperation has proved to be the right way forward.

In 2013, Beijing and Washington agreed to move forward their ties based on non-confrontation, no conflict, mutual respect and win-win cooperation.

These principles are expected to continue to prevail, as indicated by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s reiteration of the principles in his March trip to China and Trump’s pledge to adhere to the one-China policy in a phone talk with Xi in February.

Maintaining close communication, especially at the top level, will make sure their relations stay on the right track.

Amid a weak global economic recovery and a growing backlash against globalization, the world is looking to China and the United States.

In the upcoming meeting, Xi and Trump are expected to seek consensus on economic and trade cooperation, among other topics. Results of the meeting will have global implications.

As major countries, China and the United States should do more than just looking out for their own best interests.

They need to set good examples for the world, shoulder due responsibility, and separately or jointly, provide more public goods to promote mankind’s well-being.

Avoiding the Thucydides Trap is crucial. Enhanced dialogue and coordination between the two sides could do the trick.

Trump, Xi and Taiwan

April 5, 2017

Trump, Xi and Taiwan, Washington Times, Lester Wolff, April 4, 2017

Illustration on China and Taiwan by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

This week’s TrumpXi 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.

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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 TrumpXi 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.