Posted tagged ‘Trump and Taiwan’

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.

Taiwan Receives U.S. Navy Frigates, Plans Purchase of American Fighter Jets

March 20, 2017

Taiwan Receives U.S. Navy Frigates, Plans Purchase of American Fighter Jets, Breitbart, Frances Martel, March 20, 2017

AP/Daniel Morel

The government of Taiwan is planning to request the purchase of new fighter aircraft from the United States, The Guardian reported today, just as it completes the transfer of two decommissioned U.S. Navy frigates. The move comes amid concerns that the Communist Party in Beijing is seeking to crack down on the pro-independence government of President Tsai Ing-wen.

The Guardian cites Taiwanese Defense Minister Feng Shih-kuan as alerting the nation’s legislature that his government is seeking to purchase more modern aircraft to replace its currently fleet of F-16s. Feng’s request for more modern aircraft was a response to a review of Taiwan’s defense capabilities recently released by his ministry and published every four years. The review warned that the Chinese government had significantly expanded its ability to attack Taiwan is necessary. China has invested heavily in military construction in the South China Sea, particularly in regions that are not sovereign Chinese territory but China insists has belonged to them since ancient times.”

The fighter jet purchases are part of a greater proposed defense spending increase in the year’s budget. The South China Morning Post reports that Taiwan is looking to increase its defense spending from two to three percent of its GDP in 2018, a high not seen since 1999. This would mean spending up to $11.4 billion on defense. Tsai’s predecessor, the Kuomintang Party’s Ma Jing-yeou, took a conciliatory approach to relations with Beijing.

The Guardian notes that China is proposing a seven percent increase in its defense spending to $151 billion.

The budget announcement also featured the revelation that Taiwan was now capable of launching missiles that can hit the Chinese mainland, a distance of nearly one thousand miles.

Taiwan recently expanded its naval capability by receiving two decommissioned American Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates, who began their sail out of American port on March 9. The frigates are expected to begin active duty for the Taiwanese defense forces in May.

The Chinese government appears concerned with Taiwan’s moves to protect itself from a mainland invasion. State propaganda outlet Global Times published a column Friday warning Taipei to abandon hopes of being recognized as a sovereign nation and instead accept the status China insists it has as a rogue province. “No soldiers believe Taiwan forces are capable to defend the island if the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) launches a comprehensive offensive against Taiwan,” the column reads. “As long as the Tsai government accepts of the 1992 Consensus, the island’s security will be ensured. The eight-year-tenure of Ma Ying-Jeou is the most secure period Taiwan has enjoyed since entering the 21st century.”

“Therefore, the most important thing for Taiwan is not to provoke the one-China policy. This is the correct political way to protect the island’s security,” the column concludes.

Taiwan did just that late last year following the election of President Donald Trump in the United States. President Tsai called Trump to congratulate him on his election victory and Trump, in an unprecedented move, accepted the call, implying he understood Tsai to be a fellow head of state. The Chinese communist government condemned Tsai and insisted in assurances from Washington that the Trump administration would not abandon the “One China” policy, which demands foreign nations also deny Taiwan’s sovereignty. Trump reportedly agreed to the One China policy in a February phone call with President Xi Jinping.

Tsai, meanwhile, has insisted on respect for her nation’s self-governance. In a speech in January, Tsai condemned Beijing for “going back to the old path of dividing, coercing, and even threatening and intimidating Taiwan.” “For the sake of safeguarding regional peace and prosperity, I want to once again reiterate that our commitments will not change, and our goodwill will not change. But we will not bow to pressure, and we will of course not revert to the old path of confrontation,” she promised.

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, February 13, 2017

February 13, 2017

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, February 13, 2017, Pacific Daily Times, February 13, 2017

(How and to what extent can the “one China policy” be ameliorated without being abandoned? What impacts should China’s military adventures in the South China Sea and its highly permissive treatment of North Korea have? — DM)

The delay itself is a message to China like a father telling the disobedient son to wait his turn while everyone else at the dinner table has first choice. To China’s “indirect-implication” culture, it was no less than a smack in the face, no matter how friendly and reportedly positive the phone call was. No doubt China feels this somewhat, though President Xi probably doesn’t take the snub as seriously as he should.

Trump knew that Beijing would jump to report the phone call to give President Xi notoriety, forgetting the deeper implication that the phone call didn’t happen for three weeks into Trump’s term. Now, the Chinese people know that Trump didn’t talk to their president until three weeks after taking office, yet he received a phone call from Taipei only days after he was elected—Beijing made sure the people knew that. When trying to control information in one’s own country, that was an oversight. If Beijing were wise to the three-week snub, no newspaper in China would be allowed to report the phone call until two months later, with the comment, “Oh, they are presidents. They talk when it suits them.”

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After three weeks, President Trump finally had his phone call with Chinese President Xi. The report is that Trump will uphold the United States’ long-standing “One China” policy, in which China proper and the island of Taiwan are one country and that country’s government seat is in Beijing. The effect is that the United States does not have an “embassy” with Taiwan, but the US has an “institute” and Taiwan an “economic and cultural” office; both are still considered envoys and consulates, offering passport and visa services. While self-important voices in news and politics view the phone call as a phone call, much more is happening beneath the surface, and Beijing may only be partially aware of what all is going on.

Being a Socialist State, China’s government is itself in business, both cooperative and competitive. China’s Communist Party can directly compete with social companies like Facebook, news networks like CNN, web service companies like Google, almost any manufacturer, and, of course not in the least, construction. China’s former business associate and new “boss”, as it were, of America calls all the “important” countries in the world, except China. The delay itself is a message to China like a father telling the disobedient son to wait his turn while everyone else at the dinner table has first choice. To China’s “indirect-implication” culture, it was no less than a smack in the face, no matter how friendly and reportedly positive the phone call was. No doubt China feels this somewhat, though President Xi probably doesn’t take the snub as seriously as he should.

Even allowing State-controlled newspapers, such as Xinhua news, to let three weeks of silence be known merely by reporting the phone call shows that Trump knows how to cut through promulgated gate keeping. Knowing how his old trading partner thinks, Trump knew that Beijing would jump to report the phone call to give President Xi notoriety, forgetting the deeper implication that the phone call didn’t happen for three weeks into Trump’s term. Now, the Chinese people know that Trump didn’t talk to their president until three weeks after taking office, yet he received a phone call from Taipei only days after he was elected—Beijing made sure the people knew that. When trying to control information in one’s own country, that was an oversight. If Beijing were wise to the three-week snub, no newspaper in China would be allowed to report the phone call until two months later, with the comment, “Oh, they are presidents. They talk when it suits them.”

In social battles of implication and indirection, the Chinese have endurance and mastery, but the West has a less frequent and even more subtle way of implication that often eludes the East. It is difficult to recognize deep implication when implication is used on a daily basis for routine communication. Americans trust Trump with China more, now, knowing that he can snub them for three weeks and State-run Xinhua news will consider it a “good first step”.

There are other problems—not being able to quit while so far ahead and declare victory after 70 years of war on the books, the US selling weapons to Taiwan—but the three week snub “trumps” them all. American people have often asked themselves who China thinks they are fooling. After this three-week snub thoroughly reported under the title of a “phone call”, the American people, Democrats and Republicans alike, certainly know who is successfully fooling China.