New US President George W. Bush telephoned Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori yesterday to tell the leader of his most important Asian ally that he wanted to meet soon. \nThe two leaders agreed to hold a summit "at an early date," a Japanese official said. \nBush called Mori early yesterday and stressed the importance of Japan as a key US ally in Asia at a time when the president was crafting his policy toward communist countries in the region, such as China and North Korea, the official said. \n"You are one of the leaders I call first. This is a symbol of the close relationship between the US and Japan," the official quoted Bush as telling Mori. \nThe timing has yet to be fixed, but Japanese officials said Mori was expected to visit the US for talks with Bush as early as February or March. \nWhile Bush stressed the importance of the US alliance with Japan during his election campaign, many Japanese officials believe he will adopt a tougher line than his predecessor, pressing Tokyo to play a greater military role in the region. \nJapanese Foreign Minister Yohei Kono is to visit Washington this week and hold talks with Secretary of State Colin Powell. \nDuring his visit, Kono will propose Japan and the US set up a joint panel on security policy, Kyodo news agency quoted a Japanese diplomatic source in Washington as saying. \nJapan welcomed Bush's victory in the US presidential election and voiced hope that his Republican administration would give Japan a more prominent place on the diplomatic agenda of its most powerful ally. Japan and the US have boosted their military alliance in recent years, a move that has unnerved China. \nNew defense guidelines drawn up by the two countries in 1999 authorize Japan to provide logistical support to the US military in the event of an emergency in the region. \nSome neighboring countries, including China, have repeatedly opposed the guidelines, saying they are intended to protect Taiwan. \nAbout 48,000 US military personnel are stationed in Japan, of which about 26,000 are based on the island of Okinawa and constitute a source of strain between the allies amid calls from the local population for them to go. \nTokyo has so far refrained from showing support for the Bush administration's controversial national missile defense (NMD) proposal, fearing criticism from China and setbacks to a tentative warming in relations with North Korea. \nBut Japan is studying with Washington a theater missile defense system, a variant of the NMD, aimed at shielding US troops in Asia. \nBeijing has repeatedly accused Tokyo and Washington of exaggerating the North Korean threat as an excuse to project their dual military strength in the region, throw a protective arm around Taiwan and contain China's rise as a world power.
SCHEDULE: The delegation is due to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen this morning and witness the signing of an MOU on bilateral health cooperation in the afternoon US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar yesterday arrived in Taipei aboard a US government plane at the head of a delegation that is the highest-level visit by a US official since Washington switched diplomatic recognition to China in 1979. Azar’s flight landed at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) at 4:48pm, nearly one hour earlier than scheduled, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The apron where it landed is reserved for military aircraft, the Songshan Air Force Base Command said. The members of Azar’s delegation included HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, HHS Chief of Staff Brian
CHINESE FIGHTERS: Beijing marked the US Cabinet member’s visit by briefly sending two warplanes across the median line of the Taiwan Strait yesterday morning President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday met with US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar in the highest-level official meeting between the two nations since 1979. “It is a true honor to be here to convey a message of strong support and friendship from [US] President [Donald] Trump to Taiwan,” Azar said during the open portion of his courtesy call to the Presidential Office, which was streamed live online before Tsai and Azar held a closed-door meeting. “Taiwan’s response to COVID-19 has been among the most successful in the world, and that is a tribute to the open, transparent,
‘CROSS-STRAIT CONSIDERATIONS’: Groups said that the Ministry of Education’s policies excluded Chinese and students should not be blocked over political issues The Taiwan International Student Movement yesterday said it would protest today outside the Ministry of Education in Taipei against a policy that excludes some Chinese students from returning to Taiwan amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Since June 17, the ministry has allowed foreign students from 19 “low risk” and “medium-low risk” countries and regions to enter Taiwan. On July 22, it announced that it was relaxing restrictions to include students from all countries and regions who are graduating this semester and on Wednesday it further expanded entry to students enrolled in degree programs. A letter sent by the ministry on Wednesday to universities did
PARTNERSHIP AND LEARNING: A Princeton University health policy researcher said that the nation would be a ‘treasure trove’ of information for the US health chief US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar on Friday said he wants to learn about Taiwan’s “incredibly effective” response to COVID-19, even though the nation did things that the US has fumbled, such as having a unified strategy and citizens willing to wear masks. Azar leads a US delegation arriving today for a three-day visit to Taiwan. They are to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and health system leaders, and Azar is to give a speech to public health graduates. “The message of this trip is about Taiwan,” Azar said in an interview, deflecting a question about China.