Wake Up World: Government Of ‘The Peoples Republic Of China’ Is No One’s Friend

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTE)

 

Editor’s Note:Richard Bush was the Chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan from 1997 to 2002, based in Washington, D.C.

On the morning of June 12, Taipei time, there will be a ceremony to mark the opening of a new office building in Taiwan’s capital city. But it is not just any office building. It is the new building of the American Institute in Taiwan. With the opening looming, there has been much speculation whether the Trump administration would send of senior official to Taiwan to mark the occasion. That idea has also evoked strong opposition from China.

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The AIT opening—and even the name American Institute in Taiwan—is entwined in the “one-China policy” of the United States. When the Carter administration established diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China in 1979, it agreed to terminate diplomatic relations with the government on Taiwan, known as the Republic of China, and to conduct relations with Taiwan on an unofficial basis. Congress created AIT to conduct those unofficial relations. Taiwan has its counterpart mechanism in Washington, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office.

Despite the circumlocutions, it’s no secret that AIT’s Taipei Office works for the U.S. government. In their interactions with Taiwan government agencies, AIT personnel promote U.S. interests and carry out an array of U.S. programs.

Since AIT opened in 1979, the men and women of AIT have worked out of a facility in Taipei that was built in 1950 and used to be the office of the Military Assistance Advisory Group. They have long deserved a new building, and now they are getting it. For Taiwan, moreover, this new, not inexpensive building signifies a strong and enduring American commitment to the island and its people.

China is not happy with the scope and scale of the U.S. relationship with Taiwan, particularly in the security field. If it had its way, it would probably prefer that Washington have a simple trade office in Taipei, as other countries have. But one of the interests on which AIT officers labor is maintaining peace and security in the Taiwan Strait, which should be in China’s interest as well.

Beijing also objects to U.S. actions that suggest that its relationship with Taiwan is actually official. So when reports surfaced that the Trump administration might send a Cabinet-level official to Taiwan for the AIT opening, China undertook a campaign to stop that idea in its tracks, claiming that such an action would violate the “one-China principle.”

It happens that successive administrations have interpreted the U.S. one-China policymuch more flexibly than the strict fashion in which China defines its one-China principle. As long ago as 1992, the George H. W. Bush administration sent Secretary of Commerce Barbara Franklin to visit Taiwan, and later administrations sent people at that level.

Naturally, the Taiwan government and public would appreciate the affirmation that Cabinet-level attendance would represent. Just as naturally, the government and the public would be disappointed if a Cabinet-level head does not attend.

China chose the path of confrontation when conciliation was possible.

Yet it is important to view the administration’s decision on this specific issue in light of the poor state of Taiwan-China relations. China does not like Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan’s democratically elected president, because it fears that her Democratic Progressive Party will lead Taiwan down the road of legal independence, thus foreclosing its goal of unifying Taiwan. Actually, China’s fears of independence are unfounded. President Tsai has repeatedly said that she will maintain the status quo between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. Beijing still chose contention over coexistence, and has taken a number of steps to punish Taiwan for electing President Tsai: stealing away the countries with which Taiwan has diplomatic relations, restricting its role in the international community, conducting military exercises near Taiwan, and so on.

To repeat: China chose the path of confrontation when conciliation was possible. Going back to the 1950s, U.S. administrations have stressed that the peaceful resolution of differences between China and Taiwan is an “abiding interest” of the United States. The Trump administration has reaffirmed that position and made clear that it is China that is currently engaged in destabilizing behavior. It should therefore seize opportunities to signal its opposition to China’s punitive tactics. Sending a senior U.S. official is one of those opportunities.

Taiwan Scrambles Jets, Navy As China Aircraft Carrier Enters Taiwan Strait

 

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF REUTERS NEWS AGENCY)

 

Taiwan scrambles jets, navy as China aircraft carrier enters Taiwan Strait

Taiwan deploys jets to watch Chinese ships (01:08)

Taiwan deploys jets to watch Chinese ships
Taiwan scrambled jets and navy ships on Wednesday as a group of Chinese warships, led by its sole aircraft carrier, sailed through the Taiwan Strait, the latest sign of heightened tension between Beijing and the self-ruled island.

China’s Soviet-built Liaoning aircraft carrier, returning from exercises in the South China Sea, was not encroaching in Taiwan’s territorial waters but entered its air defense identification zone in the southwest, Taiwan’s defense ministry said.

As a result, Taiwan scrambled jets and navy ships to “surveil and control” the passage of the Chinese ships north through the body of water separating Taiwan and China, Taiwan defense ministry spokesman Chen Chung-chi said.

Taiwan military aircraft and ships have been deployed to follow the carrier group, which is sailing up the west side of the median line of the strait, he said.

Taiwan’s top policymaker for China affairs urged Beijing to resume dialogue, after official communication channels were suspended by Beijing from June.

“I want to emphasize our government has sufficient capability to protect our national security. It’s not necessary to overly panic,” said Chang Hsiao-yueh, minister for Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, during a news briefing in response to reporters’ questions on the Liaoning.

“On the other hand, any threats would not benefit cross-Strait ties,” she said.

China has said the Liaoning was on an exercise to test weapons and equipment in the disputed South China Sea and its movements complied with international law.

On the weekend, a Chinese bomber flew around the Spratly Islands in a show of “strategic force”, a U.S. official said on Tuesday.

The latest Chinese exercises have unnerved Beijing’s neighbors, especially Taiwan which Beijing claims as its own, given long-running territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin said China’s ships “couldn’t always remain in port” and the navy had to hone its capabilities.

“The Taiwan Strait is an international waterway shared between the mainland and Taiwan. So, it is normal for the Liaoning to go back and forth through the Taiwan Strait in the course of training, and it won’t have any impact on cross-Strait relations,” Liu said at a briefing on Asia-Pacific security.

China claims most of the energy-rich waters of the South China Sea, through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. Neighbors Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.

China distrusts Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and has stepped up pressure on her after U.S. President-elect Donald Trump broke years of diplomatic protocol and took a congratulatory call last month from her.

Trump then riled China by casting doubt on the “one China” policy that Beijing regards as the basis of U.S.-Chinese relations.

Tsai drew anger from China again when she met senior U.S. Republican lawmakers in Houston on Sunday en route to Central America, in a transit stop that Beijing had asked the United States to not allow.

Beijing suspects Tsai wants to push for the island’s formal independence, a red line for the mainland, which has never renounced the use of force to bring what it deems a renegade province under its control.

Tsai says she wants to maintain peace with China.

(Reporting by J.R. Wu and Faith Hung; Additional reporting by Michael Martina in Beijing; Editing by Michael Perry, Robert Birsel)

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