The US State Department's top expert on Asia says that the WTO -- which accepted both Taiwan and China into membership last weekend -- is not the place for political cross-strait dialogue. \nJames Kelly, the assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, told reporters in Washington that trying to add political dialogue to the WTO process would "ruin what we've got." \nSome US officials, in anticipation of last week's votes to allow Taiwan and China to enter the 143-member global trade organization, had said that the presence of officials from both sides of the Taiwan Strait could facilitate communications that could extend to the political sphere, in addition to trade matters that come up between WTO members on a regular basis. \nKelly disagreed. \n"The WTO is a place for resolving trade disputes," he told reporters. \n"But trying to load up all kinds of political dialogues on and have the Americans try to foster it, strikes me as a good way to ruin what we've got. There will be plenty of trade issues, Lord knows" to keep both sides busy in the WTO, he said. \nRegarding other issues during the wide-ranging presentation at the Foreign Press Center in Washington, Kelley said that the Bush administration will name a new head of the American Institute in Taiwan within a period of weeks. \nThe post has been vacant for more than two months since the former head, Raymond Burghardt, was named Ambassador to Vietnam. \nDouglas Paal, the president of the Asia Pacific Policy Center, a Washington think tank, is widely expected to be tapped for the position. But the extensive and time-consuming process by which officials are nominated nowadays, as well as Washington's preoccupation with the war against terrorism, has held up the process. \nIn a press briefing heavily weighted toward Taiwanese affairs due to the large and aggressive Taiwanese media contingent in Washington, Kelly also said he did not expect much in the way of progress in cross-strait relations for some time. \n"After the election in Taiwan, we've got a period of time which probably, because it looks to me like an exceptionally close election, will be involved in building coalitions. That could take a long time," he said. \n"Then on the Mainland we have the run-up to the 16th Party Congress. So it may not be the best time, with both sides involved in domestic issues, to get into the serious kind of negotiations that probably will be necessary at some point. What the US can do on that is probably not very much," he said.
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS: Several of the PLA fighter jets that crossed the median line of the Strait came within 68km of Hsinchu, drawing warnings from Taiwan, the ministry said At least 18 Chinese military aircraft yesterday flew into the nation’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on the second day of a US delegation’s visit, the Ministry of National Defense said, adding that the military responded by deploying an air defense missile system to monitor their activities. A delegation led by US Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach on Thursday started a three-day visit to Taiwan. The ministry from Thursday started publicizing the actions of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Taiwan’s ADIZ on its Web site and Twitter. According to ministry reports, 18 PLA aircraft
TWO CASES: The five allegedly conspired with conglomerates, threatening the nation’s governance and subverting the rules of ethical conduct, a deputy chief prosecutor said Taipei prosecutors yesterday charged three legislators and one former lawmaker with contravening the Anti-Corruption Act (貪污治罪條例) in a case linked to former Pacific Distribution Investment Co (太平洋流通) chairman Lee Heng-lung’s (李恆隆) battle with the Far Eastern Group (遠東集團) over ownership of the Pacific SOGO Department Store (太平洋崇光百貨) chain, while independent Legislator Chao Cheng-yu (趙正宇) was indicted in a separate case involving two funeral services companies and a plot of land in a national park. Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Chen Chao-ming (陳超明) and Sufin Siluko (廖國棟), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Su Chen-ching (蘇震清) and former New Power Party legislator
PENGHU INSPECTION: Taiwan cannot let its enemies strut around in its airspace, Tsai said, one day after a Chinese spokesman denied a median line exists in the Taiwan Strait Following China’s assertion on Monday that there is no “median line” in the Taiwan Strait, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday pledged to defend the nation’s airspace during a visit to an air force base in Penghu, saying that Taiwan cannot allow others to flex their military muscle in its territorial airspace. Tsai praised the “heroic performance” of the pilots of the Indigenous Defense Fighters who have been intercepting Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force planes in recent days. “I have a lot of confidence in you. As soldiers of the Republic of China [ROC], how could we let enemies strut
Swedish Member of Parliament Hampus Hagman is pushing for changing the name of the nation’s trade office in Taipei to signal improved relations with “Asia’s perhaps foremost democracy.” Hagman on Wednesday last week proposed renaming the Swedish Trade and Invest Council to “Sweden’s Office in Taipei,” following similar changes by other nations. The Swedish Trade and Invest Council, part of Business Sweden, is owned by the Swedish government and Swedish industry. Taiwan and Sweden share important values such as respect for democracy, human rights, the rule of law and freedom of speech, Hagman said in the motion, adding that the two nations