Summary: China reacts viciously to reports of former President Lee Tung-hui ailing. Then we move on to a special three part series on further signs of support for Taiwan. Part one is the Australian-US joint statement, which is a mixed bag. Part two focuses on a visit in the US by Taiwan representative Hsiao Bi-khim. The US side said ties are the “best ever” but it’s what the US did on her visit that says a lot more. Part three: a US Congressman introduces the Taiwan Invasion Prevention Act, and this could be a very big deal if passed. And of course, up first is some headlines.
A monoclonal antibody (mAb) treatment being developed by Taiwan’s National Health Research Institutes (NHRI) has been shown to significantly reduce levels of the COVID-19 coronavirus in infected hamsters, according to the body’s leading infectious disease official.
Good news for your hamsters at least.
The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) has announced there is no need to test all arrivals in Taiwan for COVID-19, as current quarantine regulations have proven to be successful in disease prevention.
Taipei Zoo has begun a campaign to solicit a name for a new panda cub born at the zoo on June 28, according to the zoo’s spokesman.
The cub’s parents were gifted by China, and their names mean “unification,” showing that Chinese pettiness knows no bounds.
Very curious to see if Taiwanese panda name voters decide to respond in kind with a message of their own.
The Explorer Dream (探索夢號) cruise ship set sail from Keelung Port on a four-day trip to Penghu and Kinmen in a first for the cruise industry in Asia since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and only the second such excursion worldwide.
Eighteen Chinese fishers were charged with allegedly catching eel in waters around the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Islands, 東沙群島) last week after they were apprehended by a joint Coast Guard Administration and Kaohsiung District Prosecutors’ Office task force.
The Taiwanese military has doubled its budget to allow for the purchase of mobile coastal Harpoon missile systems from the United States to build up defences along the nation’s shores, and the sale is expected to receive approval from Washington by 2023.
China reacts to reports of Lee Tung-hui ailing
Taipei Veterans General Hospital (TVGH) on Wednesday rebutted speculation that former President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) died a day earlier, saying he was weak but receiving treatment.
TVGH said the 97-year old Lee was not in good condition and needed ongoing care, but added that if there were any changes in the former president’s condition, it would make those public.
I very much hope he makes a full recovery, he is a true Taiwanese treasure who oversaw Taiwan’s transition to a free, full and functioning democracy.
Chinese state media, however, is not so complimentary towards the former president.
The Chinese propaganda mouthpiece had this to say about President Lee:
“Lee, who took office in 1988 and retired in 2000, has long been decried as the “godfather of Taiwan secessionism” by the public, and his flattering attitude toward Japan and the denial of his own Chinese identity was heavily criticized by Chinese on both sides of the Taiwan Straits and across the globe.
Chinese mainland netizens also noticed the reports. Some of them said “We hope the report is not true, because we want him to receive legal punishment for his treason until we reunify the island one day in the future.”
Lee was a member of the pro-reunification Kuomintang (KMT), but he later betrayed the KMT’s principles to support localism and separatism.
Even after he left office, Lee was vocal about separating the island of Taiwan from the Chinese mainland.
The separatist Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) treats him with great respect to thank him for his support at the early stage, otherwise separatist sentiments would not have had an opening to be backed by a major party.
Lee can be seen as a “sinner for the Chinese nation,” Yang Lixian, a research fellow at the Beijing-based Research Center of Cross-Straits Relations, told the Global Times, noting that Lee was brainwashed by the Japanese invaders when Japan occupied the island.
The Japanese rulers planted “the seed of secessionism” among the people in Taiwan to serve Japan’s colonial rule before the end of World War II, as a sense of Chinese identity among the people would make it difficult for Japan to rule the island, Yang said.
Lee is a typical traitor of Chinese nations, who hid among the KMT and cheated his leaders to gain power in the 1980s, said the expert.”
This commentary clearly exposes their dangerously vicious mindset, better than most because the hatred that animates much of their propaganda is usually disguised behind quoting so-called experts using a non-emotional tone.
Further signs of support for Taiwan Part 1: Australian-US joint statement
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper hosted Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne and Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds on July 28 in Washington for the 30th Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN 2020).
They issued a joint statement, and for the first time mentioned supporting Taiwan.
This is the part on Taiwan:
“The Secretaries and Ministers re-affirmed Taiwan’s important role in the Indo-Pacific region as well as their intent to maintain strong unofficial ties with Taiwan and to support Taiwan’s membership in international organizations where statehood is not a prerequisite.
Where statehood is a prerequisite for membership, both sides support Taiwan’s meaningful participation as an observer or guest.
The United States and Australia highlighted that recent events only strengthened their resolve to support Taiwan.
They reiterated that any resolution of cross-Strait differences should be peaceful and according to the will of the people on both sides, without resorting to threats or coercion.
They also committed to enhancing donor coordination with Taiwan, with a focus on development assistance to Pacific Island countries.”
This is a mixed bag.
That Taiwan was included at all and with repeated references to supporting Taiwan is a big improvement.
However, there are two big disappointments.
The “statehood as a prerequisite” talk is part of a formulation codified formally in the Clinton era of China appeasement.
There has been some talk of trying to roll that back.
The second is “any resolution of cross-Strait differences should be peaceful and according to the will of the people on both sides.”
That is obviously problematic, Taiwan’s fate is none of the business of the people on the Chinese side of the Strait.
The US Democratic Party, in a draft party platform used this language, saying they “will continue to support a peaceful resolution of cross-strait issues consistent with the wishes and best interests of the people of Taiwan.”
That is a far more fair formulation that takes into account the right of self-determination, especially in the face of a militarily threatening nation.
Further signs of support for Taiwan Part 2: Hsiao Bi-kmin’s visit to State
Taiwan’s envoy to the U.S. Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) met with David Stilwell, assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs (EAP), on Monday to discuss furthering ties.
Hsiao confirmed that the meeting took place in the offices of the EAP.
This is striking, as the U.S. government has prevented the reception of Taiwanese representatives in a State Department facility since the two countries cut ties in 1979.
I’ve seen some speculation this is the first time since 1979, but it may be possible others met secretly.
It may also indicate that a serious of self-inflicted “guidelines” issued at the State Department during the Obama years which were built on Bush-era guidelines governing meetings with Taiwanese may have been lifted, or are being ignored.
After the meeting, Hsiao posted on social media “Taiwan is a force for good and a reliable partner in the world.
I look forward to working with the EAP in advancing the strong relationship.”
That is to be expected.
What is more interesting is EAP took to Twitter to congratulate Hsiao on taking charge of Taiwan’s representative office in the U.S., officially called the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States (TECRO).
“The U.S.-Taiwan relationship has never been stronger,” said the EAP, adding that both sides had a fruitful discussion on “Taiwan’s success in addressing #COVID19 and opportunities to strengthen our economic and people-to-people ties.”
This is not the first time “never been better” has been used, but it is growing more common.
But it’s the visit on official State Department property that is sending the bigger message.
Further signs of support for Taiwan Part 3: US Congressman introduces the Taiwan Invasion Prevention Act
Here is how Focus Taiwan describes new legislation introduced in the US House of Representatives:
U.S. Congressman Ted Yoho on Wednesday announced the introduction of the Taiwan Invasion Prevention Act, which would authorize the United States to respond militarily if China resorts to the use of force against Taiwan.
In a statement, Yoho, ranking member of the U.S. House of Representative’s Subcommittee on Asian Affairs, said the bill would “clarify and strengthen the commitment of the United States to defend Taiwan in the event of an armed attack.”
“The U.S. policy of strategic ambiguity towards Taiwan, initially implemented to avoid provoking Beijing to attack Taiwan and encourage peaceful relations, has clearly failed,” he said.
A longtime supporter of Taiwan, Yoho believes the U.S. needs to establish a clear red line over Taiwan that must not be crossed by China.
“As a vibrant democracy with nearly 24 million people, the U.S. is obligated to stand strong in support of Taiwan and encourage a return to peaceful relations between Taiwan and China,” the lawmaker explained.
“It is the policy of the United States to consider any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by anything other than peaceful means, including by boycotts or embargoes, a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific area, and of grave concern to the United States,” it read.
According to the legislation, “the authorization for use of the Armed Forces under this section shall expire on the date that is 5 years after the date of the enactment of this Act.”
Meanwhile, the Taiwan Invasion Prevention Act also suggests establishing a series of security dialogues and combined military exercises by the U.S., Taiwan, and like-minded security partners.
Other notable proposals include promoting a bilateral trade agreement between the U.S. and Taiwan, encouraging the U.S. President, or Secretary of State, to meet with the President of Taiwan in Taiwan, and welcoming the President of Taiwan to address a Joint Meeting of Congress.
This would authorize an Approved Use of Military Force, or AUMF.
The US president probably already has such power, but if the US Congress passes this, and the President signs it, it will send a very strong statement.
The last time this was authorized was in 1955, in a Formosa Act allowing the use of force to assist the Republic of China.
This bill is specific that it is in support of Taiwan, not the ROC.
As the Congressman says it would help set a red line.
That is very useful in avoiding ambiguity and misunderstandings with China, especially considering the increased military activity in the area by both the Chinese and the Americans.
However, one does wish that Congressman Yoho set some red lines for himself, which was on display with some very undignified comments made to a colleague on the steps of Congress the other day.
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Image courtesy of Hsiao Bi-khim’s Facebook page