Summary: Paint attackers on Causeway Bay Books get minimal sentences. Taiwan is left out of a regional trade bloc. Top Biden aid leaves us in the dark after US representative’s call. US and Taiwan in U-turn on Marines training in Taiwan. Mike Pompeo states the obvious: Taiwan isn’t a part of China. But up first, headlines.
A signal from the Flight Data Recorder (FDR) of a missing F-16 fighter jet was detected on Wednesday about 9 nautical miles off eastern Taiwan.
This follows the recent downing of an F-5.
While these tragedies happened in quick succession, Taiwan’s record for losing planes isn’t out of the ordinary.
The KMT Youth Department launched a new e-commerce initiative on the party’s LINE account, offering a range of KMT-themed products, including T-shirts, hats and a surprisingly cute Sun Yat-sen thumb drive.
They were clever to use LINE, which is the one social media platform that is in wide use among all Taiwanese, including the elderly.
The party is in serious financial trouble, but KMT chair Johnny Chiang said that wasn’t the primary motivation, but rather connecting the KMT to innovation, culture and creativity, and young people.
Taiwanese residing in Norway plan to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights after their nationality rectification case was rejected by the Norwegian Supreme Court.
They first sued the Norwegian government last August for changing their nationality from Taiwan to China on their residency permits.
The total number of Taiwanese students enrolled at American colleges and universities increased for a fifth year in a row in the 2019-2020 academic year, according to an annual report released by the U.S. State Department.
That’s a little surprising considering the low birth rate.
The KMT plans to re-establish a representative office in the United States to boost ties with Washington after the pandemic situation eases.
Their previous office was closed in 2008, the same year Ma Ying-jeou was elected president.
Current chair Johnny Chiang has made improving relations with the US a priority, but not all in the party agree with his enthusiasm.
There are also questions as to how the party will be able to afford it considering they are hemorrhaging cash.
U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) said that this week he will introduce a resolution in the Senate to support a free trade agreement (FTA) between the U.S. and Taiwan.
He also called on Joe Biden to formally host President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) at the White House.
Many are wondering if Biden will follow Trump’s lead and have a phone conversation with Tsai before being inaugurated on Jan 20.
Israel has decided to reopen its doors to Taiwanese businessmen amid the pandemic, in an effort to boost trade ties between the two nations, the country’s representative office in Taipei announced.
Paint attackers on Causeway Bay Books get minimal sentences
Three men who splashed red paint on the founder of Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay Books, in Taipei earlier this year have been found guilty of assault and given short jail sentences.
The Taipei District Court sentenced the group’s leader to four months in jail and his two accomplices to three months in jail, but the sentences can be converted to fines.
The ruling can still be appealed.
The bookstore’s founder Lam Wing-kee (林榮基) said “This ruling is useless, it is too lenient. Taiwan’s laws need to be fixed, as there is no protection for the victims.”
There have been a string of attacks on Hong Kong activists, including another paint attack on singer and activist Denise Ho and a chicken poo attack on the Aegis restaurant, which provides jobs for Hong Kong activists in Taiwan.
Taiwan is left out of regional trade bloc
At a regional summit in Hanoi, 15 Asia-Pacific economies signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a China-backed trade deal that excludes the United States and Taiwan.
Analysts are mixed on how much impact it will have on Taiwan, but petrochemical, upstream textile, and machine tool industries are three industries I’ve seen cited more than once as possibly suffering.
The KMT criticized the DPP for not pro-actively working to join the RCEP, noting that 59 percent of Taiwan’s exports and 65 percent of its total foreign investment go to RCEP countries.
However, under WTO rules, 70% of exports to RCEP member countries, mostly electronic products, are already tariff free.
There is no way China would have allowed a DPP-led Taiwanese government to join, so the DPP didn’t bother wasting its time, plus the government has been working to lower reliance on the Chinese economy.
Taiwan is continuing in its efforts to join the rival Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a Japan-led trade deal that comprises 11 countries.
This is a better bet, as it was originally set up by the US as a counterweight to China, and the member countries are more uniformly friendly to Taiwan–and China is not a member, making it harder for them to have veto power.
That doesn’t mean they won’t be able to strongarm a member or two to keep Taiwan out, however.
Trump pulled the US out of the pact, but it’s possible that under Biden they will re-join.
He’ll have to counter opposition within his own party, however.
Top Biden aid leaves us in the dark after US rep’s call
Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to the United States Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) said that she has spoken with Antony Blinken, a senior advisor to President-elect Joe Biden and widely tipped to be national security advisor or secretary of state in the Biden administration.
During the 15-minute call, Hsiao conveyed Taiwan’s congratulations to Biden for winning the presidential election.
She also said she appreciated the longstanding bipartisan support in the U.S. for stronger Taiwan-U.S. relations.
There was no word on what Blinken said during the 15-minute call, which isn’t a good sign.
Everyone’s favourite blathering CCP mouthpiece had this to say:
Hsiao Bi-khim, the island of Taiwan’s representative to the US, sent a congratulatory message to Biden’s foreign policy advisor Antony Blinken on Saturday, after Taiwan’s regional leader and its Democratic Progressive Party chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen awkwardly “congratulated” Biden on social media.
Though Hsiao tweeted the message by including Blinken into it, there was no effective response from the US side either officially or semi-officially, showing that the DPP has again put itself in an embarrassing situation.”
I wish I could say they were dead wrong, but in this case they have a point–Blinken should have responded, even if it was with bland diplo-speak.
US and Taiwan in U-turn on Marines training in Taiwan
After a local UDN report on US Marines training in Taiwan, which seemed to be confirmed by the Taiwanese Navy, the US denied this was the case.
The Ministry of National Defense in Taiwan then followed suit.
So, what is going on here?
US special forces do train here with local counterparts, that is known.
As one writer in the National Interest put it, it is a “worst kept secret”.
The US statement was typical “one China policy” blather, but the US is basically operating under “don’t ask, don’t tell”.
The 1st Special Forces Group posted a short motivational video, titled “Excellence,” on its official Facebook page on June 16, 2020 showing Green Berets training with Taiwanese in Taiwan–though reportedly it has since been taken down.
In an article in The Nation, it notes that the US military is willing to name only 129 of the 138 countries its forces deployed to in 2016.
They also quoted a spokesperson as saying “Almost all Special Operations Forces deployments are classified.”
That’s exactly what they are doing in Taiwan, and of course it is classified.
We also know that the US hid the fact they had Marines at AIT for years, though they finally admit that’s the case now.
Our favourite Beijing mouthpiece Global Times has been hyperventilating about all sorts of things recently, but not this, it was only briefly mentioned in articles on other subjects–and I didn’t see anything at all in People’s Daily.
In short, Beijing barely batted an eyelid.
That’s because they’re well aware it’s been going on for some time now.
Though I can’t tell you exactly how long they’ve been doing these exercises, how often or how many people are involved, there is no doubt they exist.
Mike Pompeo states the obvious: Taiwan isn’t a part of China
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in an interview with Hugh Hewitt, said the following:
“Well, Hugh, remember, when we talk about – it’s always important to get the language right.
Taiwan has not been a part of China, and that was recognized with the work that the Reagan administration did to lay out the policies that the United States has adhered to now for three and a half decades, and done so under both administrations.
No, I actually think this is in fact bipartisan.
I think the central understandings that this is a model for democracy, that the people who live on Taiwan ought to be honored by having the Chinese live up to the commitments that they have made – I think this is something that both parties can agree to.
And I hope that this will continue for as long as it’s the case that the Chinese and the Taiwanese can’t figure their way through this.
We ought to honor the commitments that have been made and we have a set of obligations.
You’ve seen our announcements with respect to weapon sales to Taiwan to assist in their defense capabilities.
All of these things are designed to live up to the promises that have been made between, frankly, China and the Taiwanese people.”
Naturally, what got everyone’s attention was “Taiwan has not been a part of China.”
He’s right, and he’s only re-stating the US position since the early 1950s–but what’s unusual is the bluntness of him stating it so openly.
The U.S. State Department followed up by saying that the United States takes no position on the issue of Taiwan sovereignty.
That’s normally how it framed, and even then they usually say that as little as possible, and as quietly as possible.
As Audrey Tang put it to a reporter, “Taiwan hasn’t been a part of China for 15,000 years”
OK, I may have remembered the exact number wrong, it might have been 25,000 years, but essentially what she means is that Taiwan hasn’t been a part of China since there was a land bridge between the two.
Strictly speaking, she’s right.
The first Chinese arrived under the Dutch, and when Ming loyalist Koxinga arrived he established a Kingdom of Tungning.
The Manchurians, who the Chinese considered barbarians, conquered Mongolia, Tibet, China, what is today called Xinjiang…and at their peak two-thirds of Taiwan.
The Qing was a Manchurian empire, not a Chinese one–though they did rule from Beijing and in Taiwan used almost entirely Chinese proxies to rule.
Taiwan was then part of the Japanese Empire.
Following WWII, like in Germany, the Allies took control of the Japanese Empire and partitioned it up into zones of control.
The US took over military command of the main Japanese islands, while the ROC took command of the Taiwan area.
Legally Taiwan wasn’t under Chinese rule any more than the US, the UK, France and Russian zones in Germany were legally theirs–it was all under Allied command.
In 1951 Japan signed the Treaty of San Francisco, which renounced any claims to Taiwan, but it didn’t specify Taiwan being given to any other country.
That treaty went into effect in 1952, and the US position (and that of many other countries) is that Taiwan’s sovereignty is still unresolved to this day.
Of course the ROC government, applying occupation is nine-tenths of the law–and having been kicked out of China–simply set up camp and called it theirs.
The ROC government cites the Cairo Declaration–which did specify handing Taiwan to the ROC–as legal recognition of it’s claims, but it was simply a declaration of intent, like an MOU, and not a treaty in the eyes of the US government.
So, that’s the background as to why the US maintains that Taiwan’s status is undetermined.
Of course, our favourite gasket-blowing CCP mouthpiece had some fun things to say about it:
“As is his habit, Pompeo continues making controversial, sometimes insane, remarks against China even at the end of his tenure.
However, the entire world was taken aback by his recent comments that “Taiwan is not a part of China.” “
It goes on to say “Pompeo’s comment is completely against historical reality and truth” and “They are against the long-standing official stance of the US about its one-China policy.”
Not true, at least not in the English language wording.
The US merely “recognizes” China claims Taiwan for itself, in short the one China policy is basically, yeah we know you think Taiwan is yours.
Not a word about the US thinking that is actually the reality of the situation.
By Drawn and printed by Georg Westermann, Germany – Historical and Commercial Atlas of China, Harvard University Press 1935, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=67768584