In New Year Address, President Tsai Looks to Renew Cross-Strait Dialogue
In her New Year's Day address, President Tsai Ing-wen called upon mainland China to resume normal exchanges and reduce misunderstandings after the pandemic is effectively controlled.
Amid New Biden Administration, Continued Tensions, President Tsai Calls for Cross-Strait Dialogue in New Year Address
China Times, January 2, 2021
The tensions in the Taiwan Strait continued and the United States is about to see a transfer of power, new changes may emerge in the cross-strait relations. President Tsai Ing-wen offered an olive branch to Beijing in New Year's Day address. She expected that when the pandemic is under control, people on both sides of the strait will resume normal and orderly exchanges to reduce misunderstandings. Yet she threw the ball to the other side. Emphasizing that as long as Beijing authorities sincerely want to resolve differences and under the principles of reciprocity and dignity, "we are willing to facilitate jointly meaningful dialogue." In a rare instance, the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) responded to the speech in positive light.
Cross-Strait Policy Line Finetuned Amid Changes in U.S.-China Relations
At the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference on December 31 last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping reiterated that on the Taiwan issue: "We adhere to the 'One China' principle and 1992 Consensus and resolutely maintain peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait." President Tsai's New Year address, although still refrained from responding to Beijing's fundamental position, made an overture of "looking forward to renewing normal dialogue."
According to media commentary, the governments on both sides of the Taiwan Strait are playing their old tune. Even if not a train collision, Taiwan and mainland China remain on parallel paths with no crossing point. (Photo from: China Times)
Taiwan and China Exchange Empty Words, On Two Parallel Paths
United Daily News, January 2, 2021
At the beginning of the new year, the leaders of both sides of the Taiwan Strait each mentioned their hopes for future cross-strait relations. Both delivered well-intended wishes, but both are putting the responsibility on the other. In President Tsai Ing-wen’s New Year’s Day address, the content largely resembled the sentiment from National Day on October 10 and did not positively respond to Taiwanese business people’s wish to restore normal relations between Taiwan and the mainland. China also adopted the attitude of only accepting the 1992 Consensus, and nothing else. There is no new year, new vibes at all. Even if the two sides are unalike two trains directly running into each other, they certainly are on two parallel lines that will never meet.
Regarding the current political deadlock across the Taiwan Strait, it takes more than one cold day for a river to freeze three feet deep. The international environment, factors revolving the United States, and the internal political and social atmosphere in both Taiwan and the Chinese mainland make it difficult to resolve the deadlock. In this delicate state, experts on both sides of the strait have repeatedly issued warnings of worry since last year, calling on both sides to avoid misjudgment, have better crisis management, and not to allow the spiral of hostility to change from quantitative to qualitative changes, taking cross-strait relations to the point where it is difficult to ever recover. With mainland Chinese aircrafts frequently disturbing Taiwan, it increases the risk of conflict between the two.
In the rivalry for supremacy between the United States and China, many countries are adopting a hedging strategy of political alliance with the United States and economic partnership with China. Only Taiwan is focusing on politics while ignoring the economy, leading to a narrower future. (Photo from:
United Daily News)
How Can Taiwan Engage in Meaningful Dialogue Across the Strait
By Chao Chien-min
United Daily News, January 3, 2021
Because of the ravaging coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the global economy has seen a rare depression in a century, and the competition between the United States and China has promoted the transformation of the international order; some people have called year 2020 as the first year of an “Asian Century”. There are two factors that drove the transformation of the international order last year:
First, the downgrade of China’s international reputation caused by government measures dealing with the coronavirus, promulgation of a national security law in Hong Kong, strong measures against Uyghurs in Xinjiang, and military coercion in the Taiwan Strait. When Australia answered America’s call to investigate independently the pandemic, Beijing immediately adopted retaliatory tariff measures that led to huge negative impacts. According to a Pew survey, negative views towards China internationally is at a historical high point, Japan and Australia had over 80 percent negative views, and the United States, United Kingdom, and South Korea had over 70 percent negative views towards China.
From January 1, 2021, Taiwan has lifted import restrictions on pork containing ractopamine. Many restaurants and street food vendors display "Taiwanese Pork" signs in fear that business will be affected. (Photo from: China Times)
December 28: President Donald Trump of the United States signed on December 27 appropriations legislation worth $2.3 trillion. The legislation package included the Taiwan Assurance Act of 2020, which calls for the normalization of arms sales to Taiwan, support for Taiwan's meaningful participation in international organizations, and review of Department of State guidelines for engaging with Taiwan. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed welcome and gratitude.
December 30: Among the travelers who returned to Taiwan from the United Kingdom on December 27 were three confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19), including one case involving a young man with a serious fever (case 792) which was confirmed by genetic comparison as the British variant of the virus, the first in Taiwan. From New Year's Day, Taiwan is strengthening border controls and banning foreign nationals without residence permits from entering the country for a period of one month. However, foreign, Hong Kong and Macao spouses, minor children, and those with project permits are not affected by the new policy. The Ministry of Education also instructed schools to suspend processing applications by overseas students.
December 31: The Executive Yuan announced that existing local self-government ordinances which mandate zero detection provisions for beta-adrenergic agonists (including ractopamine) are invalid, and new regulations will not be approved. Minister without portfolio Luo Bing-cheng stated that if local governments insist on fining related businesses, then higher-level government agencies will revoke such penalties, and civil servants who enforce the local self-government ordinances will be subject to discipline. The legal profession harshly criticized that, under the Civil Service Disciplinary Act, the Executive Yuan has no authority to intervene and subject local civil servants to discipline.
December 31: The Ministry of Health and Welfare announced that National Health Insurance (NHI) premiums will hike to 5.17 percent from the current 4.69 percent. In other words, employees earning NT$30,000 (about US$1,068) per month will see a premium increase of about NT$44 (about US$1.56), and the average employee will see a premium increase of NT$63 (about US$2.25). The premium increase for more than 70 percent of people will be within NT$70 (about US$2.50), approximately the cost of a bento box.
January 1: President Tsai Ing-wen delivered her 2021 New Year address. On lifting import restrictions on pork containing ractopamine, President Tsai appealed to the people's understanding with her utmost humility.
On the first day of Taiwan's opening to ractopamine pork, traditional markets and street food vendors selling meat all posted various "Taiwanese pork" certificates on their storefronts. Butcheries complained about going great lengths to explain and prove to customers the origin of their meat and calming customer concerns. Street food vendors reported a drop in business by about 30 percent.
January 1: More than 10 New Year countdown celebrations were scheduled throughout Taiwan. But in the interest of epidemic prevention, all but Taipei's decided to cancel and hold their events online. The New Year fireworks at Taipei 101, which lasted five minutes, were attended by only some 10,000 people, the poorest attendance ever for a New Year celebration.