The US has been forced to quell a number of foreign policy spats in recent days as normally blunt-talking Secretary of State Colin Powell struggles to learn the tactful art of "diplospeak," the State Department conceded on Tuesday. \nAt least twice in the past week, Powell has made unscripted remarks about extremely sensitive international disputes in Asia and the Middle East that have infuriated countries in those regions and required US diplomats to engage in serious damage-control efforts. \nOn March 9, Powell angered China by referring to Taiwan, which it views as a rebel province, as the "Republic of China" twice during testimony to the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, causing the State Department to scramble to assure Beijing that its policy toward Taiwan had not changed. \nBeijing has long opposed the official recognition of Taiwan by officials of countries that maintain diplomatic relations with China, a condition that also extends to the use of Taiwan's official name. \nChinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao said on Tuesday that China had made "solemn representations" to Washington expressing its "great concern and dissatisfaction" over the incident. \nState Department spokesman Richard Boucher acknowledged that China had sought clarification about the use of the term and that "we replied very clearly that the US policy has not changed." \n"The US side emphasized it was purely a slip of the tongue by the secretary of state and did not mean any change to the "one China" policy pursued by the US side," Boucher said in a routine briefing. \nBoucher said that Washington had not apologized to China but refused to say if State Department officials had suggested that Powell not use the term in future. \n"I'm not going to get into our discussions with the secretary, I'd just say that we don't normally use the term and I don't think we'll be using it in the future," he said. \nOn March 7, speaking at a hearing before the House International Relations Committee, Powell referred to the holy city of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, incensing the Arab world and possibly complicating already fragile Middle East peace efforts. \nBoth Israel and the Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital and Israel's claim over the whole of the city, the Arab eastern part of which it captured and annexed in the 1967 Middle East war, has never been recognized by the international community. \nUS policy has long held that the status of Jerusalem should be decided in peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, and Washington has kept its embassy in Tel Aviv to avoid inflaming the dispute. \nBoucher sought to downplay the negative reactions from the Arabs and the Chinese, describing their responses as inquiries about possible subtle policy changes rather than protestations.
NO CONSENSUS YET: Local governments and the CECC have agreed to change the ‘3+4’ self-isolation policy, but are still mulling what to replace it with The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) and local governments have agreed to ease restrictions on close contacts of COVID-19 cases, although the details are still being discussed, the center said yesterday. The discussions follow Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) on Saturday approving a proposal to shorten the “3+4” policy — three days of home isolation followed by four days of self-disease prevention — for close contacts who have received booster doses. “We did not reach a consensus on how to revise the current restrictions, but we all agreed that the administrative burden must be reduced and the intensity of restrictions must be eased,
OPPOSING CHINESE ‘HOSTILITY’: The bill orders the state secretary to create a plan to regain observer status for Taiwan, saying Taipei is a model contributor to world health US President Joe Biden on Friday signed a bill into law to help Taiwan regain observer status at the World Health Assembly (WHA), demonstrating Washington’s support for Taiwan’s international participation. Friday was the deadline for Biden to sign the bill (S.812), which directs “the Secretary of State to develop a strategy to regain observer status for Taiwan in the World Health Organization (WHO), and for other purposes.” The 75th WHA, the decisionmaking body of the WHO, is scheduled to meet in Geneva, Switzerland, from Sunday next week to May 28. The bill, introduced by US Senator Bob Menendez, chairman of the US Senate
REACHING OUT: President Tsai expressed condolences to the deceased man’s family and wished a speedy recovery to those who were wounded in the shooting The Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA) on Monday called on the US to label organizations associated with the suspect in the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church shooting as domestic terrorists, following accusations that he was a member of a group backing unification with ties to the Chinese government. David Wenwei Chou (周文偉), 68, was arrested on Sunday and is being held in lieu of US$1 million bail at the Orange County Intake Release Center over a mass shooting at the California church that left one dead and five wounded. Local police suspect the shooting was politically motivated after they found notes in
‘DAMOCLES SWORD’: An Italian missionary said the arrest of cardinal Zen is a blow for the church in Hong Kong, China and the world, signaling great danger ahead China yesterday defended the arrest of a 90-year-old Catholic cardinal under Hong Kong’s National Security Law, a move that triggered international outrage and deepened concerns over Beijing’s crackdown on freedoms in the territory. Retired cardinal Joseph Zen (陳日君), one of the most senior Catholic clerics in Asia, was among a group of veteran democracy advocates arrested on Wednesday for “colluding with foreign forces.” Pop singer Denise Ho (何韻詩), veteran barrister Margaret Ng (吳靄儀) and cultural studies academic Hui Po-keung (許寶強) were also arrested, the latter as he attempted to fly to Europe to take up an academic post. Cyd Ho (何秀蘭), a democracy