New prospects for Taiwan
Monday was a significant day for Taiwan and the US. It marked the one-month anniversary of the inauguration of US President Donald Trump, nine months for President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and about seven months since the New York State Department of Financial Services issued a consent order to Mega International Commercial Bank’s New York branch.
The Trump administration has faced domestic challenges, such as an executive order for a travel ban being rejected by a US federal court, the forced resignation of US national security adviser Michael Flynn and criticism from the media, and international challenges, such as the ongoing threat from the Islamic State group, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s nuclear tests and death of his half-brother Kim Jong-nam, China’s currency manipulation, militarization in the South China Sea and East Asia.
Faced with these challenges, Trump reaffirmed he that would never give up trying to keep radicalized Muslims out of the US to protect his country.
He criticized the media by saying: “They have their own agenda and their agenda is not your agenda. I want to speak to you without the filter of fake news. They could not defeat us in the general election. We will continue to win, win, win.”
He also said: “Jobs are already starting to pour back in. They are coming back in like you have not seen in a long time. Ford, General Motors, Fiat, Chrysler are bringing in and bringing back thousands of jobs, investing billions of [US] dollars because of the new business climate that we are creating in our country.”
Yes, there are still tonnes of challenges Trump needs to overcome, but he has certainly kept his promise to make US citizens proud and make “America great again.”
Tsai has also met with a lot of domestic and international challenges and her approval rating has dropped substantially. She is facing pension, party assets and long-term care reforms, taking 18 percent preferential interest rates to zero, marriage equality debates and the issue of the loyalty of retired generals who pledged their allegiance to the China, but still claim benefits from Taiwan.
The most critical challenge she faces is the military threat from China. Chinese aircraft carrier the Liaoning circled around Taiwan and the Chinese military said they flew aircraft over Taiwan from the East China Sea to the South China Sea.
Tsai adopted a different strategy from Trump to address these issues. She appointed independent Lin Chuan (林全) premier and various Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) members to Cabinet positions, with the idea of building a “popular joint government.” In doing so she satisfied certain people and disappointed a good number of deep green supporters.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reaffirmed the “six assurances” as US policy toward Taiwan.
It says: The US will not set a date for termination of arms sales to Taiwan. The US will not alter the terms of the TRA. The US will not consult with China in advance before making decisions about US arms sales to Taiwan. The US will not mediate between Taiwan and China. The US will not alter its position about the sovereignty of Taiwan. The US will not formally recognize Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan.
The Taiwan Relations Act has clearly derecognized the Republic of China and recognized the government of Taiwan.
Seventy years have passed and Taiwan’s status has not been settled. According the San Francisco Peace Treaty, the US is the principal occupying power of Taiwan. The new American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) compound in Taipei’s Neihu District (內湖) is to be opened this year.
Former AIT director Stephen Young said US Marines are to be posted at the new compound and it will be “a symbolic expression” of the US’ commitment to Taiwan.
Japan and the EU have recognized Taiwan as an economic and commercial entity, but before going any further, will Taiwan be recognized as Taiwan or the Republic of China? This year will be remarkable for Taiwan. Let us watch closely and work together to grasp this historic moment for Taiwan.
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