Comments by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last week regarding the US' commitment to help Taiwan defend itself were nothing new. However, they came in the wake of regional tension over the nuclear test by North Korea and in response to questions over Taiwan's role in international efforts to deal with the crisis.
Most people in Taiwan do not see the nuclear test as something which will have an immediate effect on their lives. Nevertheless, if the crisis continues to escalate -- which at this point seems inevitable -- Taiwan cannot possibly stay clear out of it.
Leaving aside the immediate issue of potential environmental contamination caused by further nuclear tests or indeed a nuclear conflict, for the simple reason that China plays a key role in the North Korean crisis, any resulting shift or instability in the regional balance of power will inevitably affect the cross-strait relationship.
Since Taiwan is neither a member of the UN nor was invited to participate in the six-party talks on the issue, the nation is not expected to have a say on how the crisis should be managed. While many may decry the unfairness of this, it is a political reality that is not likely to change.
Under the circumstances, Rice's statement on the US' commitment to help Taiwan defend itself should help allay the sense of helplessness felt by some Taiwanese in the aftermath of the nuclear test.
On the other hand, it just so happens that Rice's comments were made at around the same time that the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission -- a US government advisory panel -- was getting ready to approve a report that highlights China's advanced military capabilities.
The report depicted Taiwan as becoming increasingly dependent on the US to deter Chinese aggression and to intervene should such aggression turn to use of force.
The situations described in the report are a cause for concern, especially in light of the fact that it also described a "window of vulnerability" from 2008 to 2015 in the military capability of Washington to intervene in the event of any cross-strait military crisis.
However, the politicians and people of Taiwan seemingly remain largely indifferent to world events -- not only with respect to the North Korean crisis but also to the implications of the US "window of vulnerability" and the increasing military threat posed by China.
Otherwise, it is hard to understand why pan-blue lawmakers, especially Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators, decided to break their promise -- which was made in a meeting organized by Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (
The supplemental budget was the product of a compromise between the ruling and opposition camps to begin with, approving greatly reduced funds in comparison with the funding initially requested for the arms procurement program.
In light of these events, the arms bill is likely to remain a hostage of the deadlocked legislature. The likelihood of the nation becoming less reliant on US protection is remote.
Beijing’s imposition of the Hong Kong National Security Law and a number of other democratic and human rights issues continue to strain relations between the UK and China. The tense situation has significantly decreased the likelihood of British Royal Navy ships being able to continue their practice of docking in Hong Kong’s harbor for resupply — a not altogether unpredictable development. In a Nov. 19 online speech to parliament, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier would next year lead a British and allied task group to the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and East Asia. Johnson
President-elect Biden and his team soon will confront a raging pandemic, a severe economic crisis, demands for progress in addressing racial injustices, intensifying climate-induced crises, and strained relations with allies and partners in many parts of the world. They will be oriented to view China as America’s greatest geostrategic challenge, but not the most immediate threat to the health and prosperity of the American people. Amidst this daunting inheritance, US-Taiwan relations will stand out as a bright spot, an example of progress that should be sustained. There are strong reasons for optimism about the continued development of US-Taiwan relations in the
Americans tend to think of Vietnam as a war that split the US rather than as a country in today’s world. Vietnamese are of course way past that. The country does not have any US Electoral College votes, but if it did, they would be cast enthusiastically for US President Donald Trump. When I told a group of university students at a park in Ho Chi Minh City that I was from the US, they asked: “Do you know why we love Trump?” “Uhhh, is it because he hates China?” I asked back. “Yeah,” the group responded in unison. With a 1,000-year history of
China’s Taiwan Affairs Office on Wednesday announced that Shih Cheng-ping (施正屏), a retired National Taiwan Normal University professor, who Beijing says is a spy, had been sentenced to four years in prison for espionage crimes. The news followed last week’s announcement by Beijing that it is compiling a “wanted list” of pro-independence “Taiwan secessionists” that would be used to “punish” those blacklisted under its national security laws. Taken together, the announcements show that Beijing’s Taiwan policy under Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) is becoming increasingly erratic, uncoordinated and poorly thought out, which raises serious questions about Xi’s leadership ability. Shih went missing