The size of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) victory in Saturday’s elections should induce Beijing to reconsider its hardline stance, former American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) chairman Richard Bush said.
Bush said the elections — which saw a decisive defeat for the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) — had a “throw the bums out” flavor.
Reacting to the victory of DPP president-elect Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and the party’s newly won control of the legislature, Bush said the results were no fluke and occurred because of growing skepticism about engaging with China.
“If Beijing can adjust its strategy and Tsai is willing to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) halfway, a mutual accommodation between them is not impossible — but it will not be easy,” he said.
Now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, Bush said that future developments would show whether the election results reflected a fundamental shift in political attitudes and not simply dissatisfaction with President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) policies and their consequences.
“A more fundamental shift would not only change the balance of power within Taiwan, but also the continued feasibility of China’s approach to reaching its goal of unification,” Bush said in an analytical essay published on the Brookings Institution’s Web site.
As the election results became known in Washington, praise for Taiwan’s democracy and president-elect Tsai came flooding in from leading members of the US Congress.
Republican presidential hopeful Senator Marco Rubio said Taiwan was charting a democratic course that China might eventually follow.
“This occurs at a time of growing challenges to regional peace and security, due especially to Beijing’s assertiveness in the region,” he said.
“As Dr Tsai settles into her new role, the United States must be prepared to stand by Taiwan to provide moral support, enhance economic links and deepen our political engagement and our security cooperation including additional arms sales in the face of possible Chinese threats and attempts at intimidation,” Rubio said.
US House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Edward Royce released a letter to Tsai, promising that his committee would work toward a strengthened security relationship and the inclusion of Taiwan in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Taiwan had built an economy that punched far above its weight and created the only democracy in the Chinese-speaking world, the committee’s ranking Democrat, Representative Eliot Engel said.
Former committee chairwoman Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen released a letter to Tsai in which she said Taiwan was a “beacon of freedom” in the Pacific.
“In a time of rapid geopolitical change, including an increasingly aggressive and ambitious China, we must redouble our efforts to strengthen our relationship,” she said.
The election results provided the US with a renewed opportunity to “ensure Taiwan is an integral part of the US safety and security network in the region,” committee member Representative Steve Chabot said.
Other statements of support were issued by US House of Representatives Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific Chairman Matt Salmon, and senior member of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Senator Ben Cardin.
The election marked a turning point in domestic Taiwanese politics and also great-power politics, Foreign Policy magazine said.
It said Tsai should appoint a multi-partisan Cabinet reflecting increasingly diverse political demographics and that Taiwan had become one of the most important drivers of change in all of Asia.
Tsai should fend off Chinese bids that threaten economic independence and strengthen Taiwanese industries so that firms do not seek so much outside capital, the magazine said.
Formosan Association for Public Affairs president Peter Chen (陳正義) said that now Tsai had “lit up Taiwan” the nation would “burn as a beacon of freedom and as a model for other countries in Asia.”
Several experts on the US’ Asia policy speculated about the strength of Washington’s defense commitment to Taiwan.
Law professor Julian Ku addressed the debate on Saturday in the journal Lawfare.
“Ultimately, the core of any security guarantee is not legal obligation, but political will,” he said.
“Legally speaking, Taiwan lacks an ironclad US security guarantee against attack by China, but this is true for just about everyone else as well — including NATO,” Ku said. “Whether the US will come to the defense of Taiwan or any other country is largely contingent on questions of diplomacy, military facts and political will.”
“Hopefully, Taiwan’s new president understands this,” he said.
ONGOING PROBE: A former Military Intelligence Bureau colonel, major general and another colonel, as well as five other people, have been questioned by prosecutors The Taipei District Court yesterday ordered that a retired colonel from the Military Intelligence Bureau (MIB) calling himself Taiwan’s “first special agent” be detained and held incommunicado as part of an ongoing investigation into espionage allegations targeting at least three former bureau officials. The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office was seeking to detain former MIB colonel Chang Chao-jan (張超然) over his alleged involvement in introducing retired agents to Chinese national security authorities and passing confidential documents to China. Chang’s actions, if proven, would contravene the National Security Act (國家安全法), which carries a prison term of three to 10 years, and the National Intelligence
The US House of Representatives’ China Task Force, launched by Republicans earlier this year, yesterday proposed the China task force act, a package of 137 pieces of legislation, seven of which involve Taiwan, in the hope of getting it passed before the 117th US Congress convenes on Jan. 3. The act encompasses a wide range of issues, including combatting Beijing’s influence around the globe, establishing the US’ dominance in determining 5G network standards and means for bringing UN members to task for abusing their influence within the UN system. The seven acts involving Taiwan address concerns such as the Taiwan Assurance Act
Chinese health authorities investigating a COVID-19 outbreak have said that they discovered live coronavirus on frozen food packaging, a finding that suggests the virus can survive in cold supply chains. The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday said that it had found traces of live COVID-19 on the outer packaging of frozen cod in the eastern city of Qingdao, marking the first time that live coronavirus has been detected on the outside of refrigerated goods. Researchers were investigating the source of a cluster of cases linked to a hospital in Qingdao. Genetic traces had previously been found in samples of
A Chinese soldier apprehended earlier this week by the Indian Army after he strayed across a tense de facto border was on Tuesday night handed back to China, an Indian government source in New Delhi said yesterday. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldier had on Monday been captured in the Demchok area of eastern Ladakh, the Indian Army said in a statement. The Chinese military also released a statement, saying that Corporal Wang Yalong was handed over early yesterday. New Delhi on Monday said that it had detained Wang after he crossed into Indian-controlled territory, while China announced that Wang had gotten