• Monday, September 24, 2018

Trump Expected to Sign Pro-Taiwan Bill, Over Beijing’s Objections

Discussion in 'World Affairs' started by takeitwithyou, Mar 6, 2018.

  1. takeitwithyou

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    Despite the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC’s) insistence that the United States must not recognize nor support Taiwan’s statehood, the U.S. Congress has thrown its support behind the island nation, as both houses unanimously passed a bill that would pave the way for more official exchanges with Taiwan. While Beijing has vehemently criticized the bill’s passage, President Trump is expected soon to sign the bill, which many see as an indication of U.S.-Taiwan relations strengthening in the face of the Chinese regime’s intimidation.

    The bill, titled “Taiwan Travel Act,” was introduced by Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) in 2017 and cleared the House on January of this year without opposition. On Feb. 28 it then passed the Senate also by unanimous consent.

    According to reports, President Trump is expected to sign the bill into law in the coming days, although it has set off an internal debate between White House advisers who favor a conciliatory approach to China versus those who advocate a tougher stance. The fact that the bill was passed unanimously by both Houses, however, could make it politically difficult for Trump to veto the bill even if he wishes to.

    Symbolism or Upgrade
    Observers are debating the significance of the bill, which some see as mostly of symbolic value, while others say it could indeed upgrade the status of U.S.-Taiwan relations.

    On the surface, the Taiwan Travel Act stipulates that the United States should allow “officials at all levels” of the U.S. government, including cabinet officials and senior military officers, to travel to Taiwan and meet with their Taiwanese counterparts. It also allows Taiwanese high-level officials to visit the United States and engage with U.S. officials, although it does not specify what specific level of officials it desires to authorize.

    The Chinese regime has clearly expressed its displeasure with the bill. On March 1, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said, “[it] severely violated the one-China principle and the stipulations of the three joint communiques between China and the US.” An Fengshan, a spokesman for the Chinese regime’s Taiwan Affairs Office, unleashed threats against Taiwan and said, “We sternly warn Taiwan not to rely on foreigners to build you up, or it will only draw fire against yourself.”

    None of the three joint communiques declared during 1970s and 1980s during the height of the Cold War were ever approved by the U.S. Congress. For decades, however, the U.S. State Department has observed unwritten rules that limit or at least discourage high-level official exchanges with Taiwan, to which the United States does not extend official diplomatic recognition.

    “Nothing in U.S. or international law currently prevents U.S. officials from meeting with Taiwanese government officials,” writes Julian Ku, a constitutional law professor at the Hofstra University School of Law, in his blog. “But the U.S. government avoids such meetings out of deference to China—considering the Chinese perspective that such meetings would contradict U.S. recognition of the PRC as the sole legitimate government of China.”

    Bonnie Glaser, senior adviser for Asia and director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), said during a CSIS panel on March 1 that if signed into law, the Taiwan Travel Act will indeed help loosen unwritten restrictions over high level official exchanges between Taiwan and the United States. She also noted that the bill is not a binding one over the U.S. executive branch, as it only expresses the “sense of Congress.”

    Reactions
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    Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen waves to the supporters at her presidential inauguration ceremony in Taipei, Taiwan on May 20, 2016.(Ashley Pon/Getty Images)
    Taiwan has welcomed the passage of the bill, with Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement saying that Taiwan would develop an even more substantial cooperative relationship with the United States, while Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen tweeted that the act “symbolizes the US Congress’ longstanding support for Taiwan.”

    It is unclear whether the bill’s support for high-level official visits extends to the highest levels, such as the presidents from both sides. In the past, Taiwanese presidents, including the incumbent Tsai Ing-wen, have paid numerous visits to the United States, with each visit limited to no more than 1-2 days in accordance with unwritten restrictions observed by the U.S. State Department.

    “The United States is the leader of the world, while Taiwan is a sovereign country. The United States should not have to worry about China’s opinion with regards to its relationship with Taiwan,” said Taiwan Premier Lai Ching‑te to Taiwanese legislators on March 2. “The U.S. Congress represents the will of the American people, and the passage [of the Taiwan Travel Act], awaiting to be signed into law by U.S. President Trump, is great news for us.”

    Just last week, China announced a massive economic “gift package” designed to lure Taiwanese businesses and individuals to come to the mainland. The announcement, which coincided with the passage of the Taiwan Travel Act in the U.S. Senate, were seen by observers as an example of Beijing’s “soft-hard” approach to subjugate Taiwan.

    Unlike the passage of the U.S. bill, however, the “gift package” from China received little enthusiasm from the Taiwanese public, many of whom point to China’s continuing military buildup and aggressive posture against Taiwan.

    Hardening Attitudes
    Trump has previously shown strong support for Taiwan. Before he was inaugurated, on Dec. 2, Trump accepted a phone call from Taiwan President Tsai. This was the first time the leaders of the United States and Taiwan had spoken directly to one another since 1979, when the United States switched its diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to the PRC.

    In June 2017, the Trump administration announced a $1.42 billion arms sale to Taiwan, which drew angry reactions from the PRC.

    The arms sale, and the passage of the Taiwan Travel Act, are signs of increasingly hardening U.S. attitudes toward the Chinese regime.

    In August, the Trump administration initiated a Section 302 investigation into China’s theft of U.S. intellectual property, which may result in sanctions against China, and the recently proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum are thought to be aimed partly at China.

    Among other efforts to contain China, the Trump administration has met with officials from Australia, India, and Japan to discuss forming an alliance of the four “like-minded” democracies—known as the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or “Quad.”

    https://www.theepochtimes.com/trump...an-bill-over-beijings-objections_2458564.html
     
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    Trump to Sign Taiwan Bill Opposed by Beijing


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    Tsai Ing-wen, Donald Trump / Getty Images
    BY: Bill Gertz
    March 2, 2018 5:00 pm

    President Donald Trump is expected to sign into law new legislation opposed by China that calls for increasing high-level visits with Taiwan, according to administration officials.

    The president could sign the measure into law in the coming days, said officials familiar with the issue.

    The action has set off a vigorous internal debate between White House advisers who favor conciliatory policies toward China and others pushing for tougher trade and security policies toward Beijing.

    A White House spokesman said he had no announcement on the legislation.

    President Trump has expressed admiration for Chinese supreme leader Xi Jinping but also has tweeted that he has not been tough enough in challenging China.

    Trade tensions between the United States and China heightened this week after Trump announced plans to impose tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum products that target China and other trade partners.

    Legislation passed by both the House and Senate on Feb. 28 calls for the U.S. government to support expanded official visits to and from Taiwan "at all levels."

    The bill and expected law would be a political slap at pro-China advocates in government who regard Taiwan, an unofficial American ally in Asia for decades, as an impediment to improved relations with China.

    "Taiwan is a fellow democracy and important partner in the Indo-Pacific region, so I am proud that Congress has now passed the Taiwan Travel Act and is sending it to the president’s desk," said Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) and a key sponsor of the bill.

    "It is critical for the United States to strengthen our ties with Taiwan, especially as China increases efforts to isolate Taiwan and block its participation in international organizations," he said.

    China has blocked Taiwan from joining international organizations and recently began flying both military and commercial flights down the center of the 100-mile wide Taiwan Strait.

    Taiwan has called the flight a military provocation as it requires Taiwan's air force to scramble jets to intercept the flight that intrude on the island's air defense zone.

    Coinciding with the provocative Chinese flights, the Pentagon in January authorized the transfer of 250 Stinger anti-aircraft missiles to Taiwan.

    The travel legislation also follows new U.S. defense and national security strategies that identify China as posing a security threat to the United States.

    Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has said the shift in strategy was prompted in part by China's militarization of disputed islands in the South China Sea.

    Currently and under previous administrations, visits to Taiwan by U.S. military and civilian officials were restricted for government and military officials.

    The limitations were imposed in a bid to avoid upsetting Beijing, despite the fact that U.S. military forces could be called on to defend Taiwan from an attack from China under the terms of the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act.

    The act was passed by Congress a year after the United States shifted formal diplomatic relations from Taipei to Beijing. The law stipulates continued sales of defensive arms to Taiwan and states that the United States would help Taiwan resist an armed attack from China.

    The administration currently is limiting official U.S. visits to Taiwan until June, when a ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held for a new building of the American Institute in Taiwan, the unofficial diplomatic representation.

    The island is the last hold out of Nationalist Chinese forces that fled the mainland during China's civil war in the late 1940s.

    China regards Taiwan as a breakaway province and has not renounced using force to retake the island.

    Chinese state-run media threatened conflict if the legislation is signed into law.

    The Communist Party newspaper Global Times stated in an editorial this week that if the travel legislation becomes law it would trigger one of China's conditions for using force to re-unite the island, an anti-secession regulation.

    The official Beijing Taiwan Affairs Office issued a more veiled threat stating that the law would violate China's one-China policy.

    An Fengshan, spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office, said Friday China strongly opposes the legislation. "We are firmly against the act," An was quoted as saying by in the official government Xinhua News Agency. "We sternly warn Taiwan not to rely on foreigners to build you up, or it will only draw fire against yourself."

    China's Foreign Ministry, however, stopped short of threatening force if the travel bill becomes law.

    Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying would not answer directly when asked about the state media report on the threat of force.

    The United States should "stop pursuing any official ties with Taiwan or improving its current relations with Taiwan in any substantive way," she said.

    "It must handle Taiwan-related issues cautiously and properly so as to avoid causing any major disruption or damage to the China-U.S. relations," Hua told reporters.

    President Trump angered China early last year by accepting a congratulatory call from Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen. The president also suggested the United States might abandoned its one-China policy. Trump later backed off the policy change.

    Several of his key White House advisers are regarded as pro-China advocates, including former Goldman Sachs chairman Gary Cohn, head of the National Economic Council.

    Those favoring tougher policies toward China include Peter Navarro, a White House adviser in charge of trade and industrial policy. Navarro is one of the key advocates of Trump tougher trade tariff policy shift announced this week.

    The State Department told the official Taiwan Central News Agency that the travel legislation does not change U.S. policy toward Taiwan.

    "We consider Taiwan to be a vital partner, a democratic success story, and a force for good in the world. Taiwan shares our values, has earned our respect, and continues to merit our strong support," Michael Cavey, spokesman for State's Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs was quoted as saying.

    The legislation states that it will be U.S. policy to permit visits to Taiwan by "cabinet-level national security officials, general officers, and other executive branch officials" to meet Taiwanese counterparts.

    The bill also would allow high-level Taiwan officials to visit the United States "under conditions which demonstrate appropriate respect for the dignity of such officials" to meet U.S. officials including State Department, Pentagon, and other cabinet agencies.

    Currently, visits to the United States by Taiwan officials, including the president and vice president, are limited to brief "transit" stops on the way to other nations.

    The last senior visit to the United States took place in 1995 when then-President Lee Tung-hui visited Cornell for a speech.

    The legislation also calls for allowing the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office, Taiwan's unofficial diplomatic office, to conduct business in the United States and to allow greater activities with Congress and federal and local governments.

    Global Times, the state-run Chinese news outlet, said Congress' unanimous passage of the bill shows increased national sentiment in the United States in confronting China's growing power.

    "Bellicosity has peaked in Congress and legislators approved the bill to vent their anxieties about China," the newspaper said.

    @faithfulguy