The US government should involve Taiwan in either the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal or open bilateral trade discussions with Taipei, a new report from the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations says.
Such a move would strengthen bilateral economic relations and avail US businesses of greater opportunities, it says.
Titled Re-balancing the Rebalance, the 30-page report examines the progress made on the non-military elements of US President Barack Obama’s policy to pursue a strategic pivot toward the Asia-Pacific region.
While the report does not enlarge on its support for including Taiwan in the TPP, it will be welcomed by Taipei. President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration has been seeking US backing for TPP membership for some time without any obvious results. The new report is thus encouraging.
“Despite progress in some areas, implementation of the rebalance thus far has been uneven,” the report says.
This creates the risk that the rebalance may end up as less than the sum of its parts, it says.
“While most governments have expressed support for greater US engagement in the region, the strategy is currently perceived as primarily a military strategy, a perception reinforced by the under-resourcing of the civilian components,” it says.
The report says that some countries in the region see the rebalance as an attempt to contain a rising China, which may limit their willingness to deepen cooperation and coordination with the US.
“As the US considers how to more fully shape and articulate the public diplomacy elements of the rebalance, it should make clear that the policy is about broadening the US engagement, not containing China,” says the report, which was released on Thursday by US Senator and committee chairman Robert Menendez.
“The rebalance seeks to expand economic growth, ensure regional security, and improve human welfare for the benefit of all, not the detriment of one,” it says.
The report also recommends including the Philippines and Indonesia along with Taiwan in the ongoing TPP talks and suggests a bilateral investment treaty with China. It says the Obama administration has made the TPP the principal focus of US trade policy in the region and a “cornerstone” of the rebalance.
“While the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has a critically important and ever-expanding portfolio in the region, it currently lacks the funding and personnel to meet current demands, much less future challenges and opportunities,” the report says.
It says the US should begin to develop more multilateral structures among allies and partners around shared issues of concern, including common environmental and security threats. A US-India-Japan trilateral deal could be very effective at addressing a range of regional issues, it says.
“The US should ensure that Taiwan is included in all appropriate regional architectures and institutional building efforts,” it adds.
“The speed with which the Asia-Pacific’s regional architecture is expanding and the growing set of critical issues that it is needed to address, demands greater US engagement,” it says.
Regional institutions can play a key role in the resolution and management of contentious maritime issues, a critical area of friction in the region and an area where the US can contribute substantial technical expertise, it says.
NPP WARNING: The NPP’s chairman said that a security law proposed by Beijing means it has renounced its promise to maintain ‘one country, two systems’ in HK The Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) yesterday proposed changing the law to provide protection for those seeking political asylum. China at the opening of the National People’s Congress in Beijing on Thursday introduced a draft security law for Hong Kong to ban treason, subversion and sedition, with a review expected next week. TPP caucus whip Jang Chyi-lu (張其祿) said that the party is concerned about democracy advocates in Hong Kong and has taken action to support them. The party has proposed an amendment to Article 18 of the Act Governing Relations with Hong Kong and Macau (香港澳門關係條例), which stipulates that the government can offer
The number of people from Hong Kong applying for residency in Taiwan last year rose 41 percent from a year earlier to 5,858, National Immigration Agency statistics showed. The statistics also showed that 600 applications were filed by Hong Kong residents in the first quarter of this year — three times the number filed in the same period last year — with applicants apparently not deterred by the COVID-19 pandemic. Just one day after it was reported that the Chinese government plans to enact new national security laws in Hong Kong, inquiries regarding immigration to Taiwan grew 10-fold, a Hong Kong-based immigration
‘BEGINNING OF THE END’: Democracy advocate Joshua Wong urged Hong Kongers to stand up and fight, and let the Chinese government know that they will not cave Hong Kong protesters yesterday battled with riot police in busy downtown areas, showing their opposition toward China’s dramatic move to crack down on dissent in the biggest demonstration since the coronavirus swept through the territory in January. Police deployed a water cannon and fired tear gas in the Causeway Bay shopping area after hundreds of protesters had gathered to oppose new national security legislation from China. Police warned the crowd they were taking part in an illegal gathering, and later said in a statement that “rioters threw umbrellas, water bottles and other objects at them.” At least 120 people were arrested,
‘TAIWAN IS SAFE’: As there have been no new local cases for 42 days, people should feel free to travel around the nation — as long as they follow disease prevention rules No new cases of COVID-19 were reported yesterday and only 20 of the people hospitalized after testing positive are still being treated in hospitals, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday in Pingtung County’s Kenting (墾丁) as he promoted a “new disease prevention lifestyle” for the nation. As yesterday was the 42nd consecutive day with no new domestic cases, and experts consider 28 consecutive days with no domestic case — the span of two incubation periods — a sign that a community is relatively safe, Taiwan is safe, said Chen, who heads the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC),