U.S. Eases Guidelines on Interactions with Taiwan, Complicating "One China" Policy
The United States Department of State recently released a new version of its guidelines on interactions with Taiwan, easing restrictions. American and Taiwanese officials will be able to visit each other's offices and conduct official business, but Taiwan's Twin Oaks estate in Washington will still be unable to hold flag-raising ceremonies.
U.S. Issues New Guidelines on Interactions with Taiwan, Complicating “One China” Policy
China Times, April 11, 2021
The United States Department of State announced on April 9 a new version of its guidelines for interactions with Taiwan, relaxing the U.S. restrictions on engaging with Taiwanese officials. American officials and their Taiwanese counterparts will be able to visit each other's offices and conduct business activities. Moreover, U.S. officials will be able to attend events at the Twin Oaks estate, the former residence of the Republic of China's ambassador in Washington but will not be allowed to attend October 10 National Day reception. The move would deepen relations between Washington and Taipei amid increased mainland Chinese military activity towards Taiwan.
The Office of the President and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs both said yesterday that they were pleased to see the United States take relevant measures to encourage closer exchanges between the United States and Taiwan, while looking forward to fostering more interactions in the future.
According to a commentator, it is critical to observe in cross-strait relations not only individual "events" but also long-term "trends," which constitute the main reasons for U.S.-China competition. The author hopes that the administration of President Tsai Ing-wen can change current pessimistic trends in the Taiwan Strait.
(Photo from: The Storm Media)
“Trends” Matter More Than “Events” in Cross-Strait Relations
By Su Chi
United Daily News, April 11, 2021
Perhaps because politicians and public opinion seem to be led by the news that pop up under their noses every day. Perhaps because during the past 30 years, cross-strait crises had been triggered by what Beijing calls “major events,” such as President Lee Teng-hui’s visit to the United States in 1995, his “Special State-to-State Relationship” statement of 1999, President Chen Shui-bian’s “One Country on Each Side” proclamation of 2002, etc. And since no “major event” has occurred on President Tsai Ing-wen’s watch thus far, many people in Taiwan believe peace will last forever in the Taiwan Strait.
However, great powers care more about the “trends” rather than any particular “events.” The bitterly partisan Republican and Democratic Parties could unite on shifting the U.S. China policy from one of “engagement” to “competition,” is not due to any specific Chinese policy or behavior. Rather, it is the fear of losing its predominant role in world affairs that propelled the change. Likewise, regarding Taiwan, Mainland China focuses not so much on individual events than the trend of Taiwan's separation from China. But the U.S. and China have traditionally adopted completely different methodologies in dealing with their perceived adverse trends. The U.S., being a democracy with separation of powers and check and balance built into its political system, has to be open and transparent on its major foreign policy departures. On the other hand, the authoritarian China oftentimes sought to rely on “surprise attacks” to achieve its strategic ends. The attacked were often caught completely unawares by the PRC strikes. This has been true for each of the last three Taiwan Strait crises.
According to media commentary, the Tsai administration should not only care about appeasing the families but should also review its own "Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program," which has allocated NT$98.4 billion (about US$3.4 billion) to track construction but neglected rail safety in eastern Taiwan, resulting in one of the worst train accidents in Taiwan's history.
(Photo from: United Daily News)
Superficial “Forward-Looking” versus Leader Busy Attending Funeral Services
The Storm Media, April 8, 2021
The Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) saw its most disastrous accident in half a century. The so-called “Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program” of NT$880 billion (about US$31 billion) for eight years by the administration of President Tsai Ing-wen listed NT$98.4 billion (about US$3.4 billion) under railway construction, but there is no money delegated to railway safety maintenance, and the railway in eastern Taiwan was only allocated a very small budget, leading to a tragedy of 50 casualties. Why was there no safety fence between the working site and railway? How can the “Forward-looking Program” be called “forward-looking?”
On the official website of the Executive Yuan’s Forward-looking Program, “railway construction” is listed as the fourth item in the eight major constructions with NT$16.6 billion for first phase (2017-2018), NT$41.6 billion (about US$1.4 billion) for the second phase (2019-2020) and NT$40.2 billion (about US$1.4 billion) for the third phase (2021-), totaled NT$98.4 billion (about US$3.4 billion); according to the five major thematic promotion of 38 items of railway construction namely:” Taiwan High Speed Rail and Taiwan Railways Train-Linking Network,” “Upgrading TRA and improving eastern Taiwan service,” “ railway dimensioning or commuting improvement,” “urban mass rapid transit promotion” and “sightseeing railways for central and southern Taiwan,” huge sums of money was spent, but the most fundamental component of railway safety was neglected.
China's Liaoning aircraft carrier formation recently conducted training in waters around Taiwan, while the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier of the United States entered the South China Sea. The movement of American and Chinese aircraft carriers to the waters south and north of Taiwan has aroused concern among nations in the Indo-Pacific region.
(Photo from: United Daily News)
April 5: A Taroko Express train operated by the Taiwan Railways Administration crashed with a construction truck on April 2, causing 49 deaths and 216 injuries. Through interviews, roadside security cameras, and driving recorder videos, investigators punctured the lies of the site director Lee Yi-hsiang, indicating that Lee drove the construction truck carrying waste tires to the site for dumping but was stuck between trees when he turned. Lee attempted to free the truck with an excavator, but the sling fell loose unexpectedly, causing the construction truck to fall down a slope onto the rail. The disastrous train collision occurred more than a minute later.
Lee has been taken into custody, and the Hualien District Court has seized Li and Dong Hsin construction company's assets of over NT$800 million (about US$28 million).
Authorities will continue to investigate issues of official-business collusion and construction fraud.
April 5: China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) stated that the Liaoning aircraft carrier formation conducted drills in the waters around Taiwan on April 4, routine training organized under an annual work plan. Similar training activities will be routinely planned in the future.
Regarding this, the Ministry of National Defense stressed that the Armed Forces has a full grasp of the maritime and air space developments surrounding Taiwan and will respond appropriately.
According to Japan's Ministry of Defense, the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier of the United States was reported to have moved from the Strait of Malacca into the South China Sea. The movement of American and Chinese air craft carriers to the south and north of waters around Taiwan has aroused concern by countries within the Indo-Pacific region.
April 6: The PLA conducted landing drills in the South China Sea to simulate seizing islands, putting the Dongsha and Taiping islands administered by Taiwan under stress. According to a report submitted to the Legislative Yuan by the Ocean Affairs Council, the Dongsha and Taiping islands are equipped with 168 and 124 units of Kestrel rocket launchers self-developed by Taiwan's National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology, which may be used in defensive operations such as anti-boat wave attacks and anti-landing activities.
April 6: One sea drift pig infected with the African swine fever appeared in Wanli in New Taipei. This is the first time after discovering many such dead infected sea drift pigs in places like Kinmen that they are observed in the main island of Taiwan. The African Swine Fever Central Disaster Response Center stated that blood tests at 11 pig farms within a radius of 10 kilometers were negative, ruling out the domestic abandonment of dead pigs as the cause. It is presumed that these pigs drifted by sea from the Chinese mainland.
April 6: According to the Ministry of the Interior, Taiwan's population saw negative growth for the first time last year, with the total number of newborns falling below 10,000 in January for the first time, totaling 9,601. Additionally, only about 120,000 couples were married last year, with a marriage rate of 5.16 per 1,000, the lowest in 11 years, threatening to affect the birth rate.
April 9: The annual pilgrimage of Mazu organized by the Dajia Jenn Lann Temple in Taichung began the nine-days, eight-nights procession. Some 10,000 believers escorted the Mazu goddess by kneeling in worship, and all participants wore face masks to comply with epidemic prevention measures. It is estimated that the entire procession will attract the participation of 600,000 people. The incense worship activity at Baishatun in Miaoli attracted nearly 78,000 registrations, breaking a new record. The pilgrimage will proceed again the late evening of April 11.
April 9: The term of Governor Yang Chin-long of the Central Bank is past the half-way mark and about to enter an observation period to determine whether he will be re-appointed. Three former and incumbent directors of the Central Bank co-authored a new book criticizing the mistaken monetary policy under Governor Perng Fai-nan, Yang's respected predecessor. Incumbent Deputy Governor Chen Nan-kuang even endorsed the critical book in the preface, intending to weaken Governor Yang's authority as Perng's successor. The battle for governorship of the Central Bank has started ahead of time. Governor Yang quoted President Theodore Roosevelt of the United States, satirizing cold-eyed onlookers for not having to bear the success or failure of policies and only pointing fingers at the courageous, indirectly defending the reputation of Perng. The power struggle has attracted the attention of political observers.