The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) yesterday said it does not support a referendum on Taiwanese independence, after a former AIT chairman penned an open letter advising against the proposed plebiscite by pro-independence group Formosa Alliance.
“The US has a deep and abiding interest in cross-strait peace and stability. Taiwan is a reliable partner, and we appreciate Taiwan’s efforts to maintain peace and stability,” AIT spokeswoman Amanda Mansour said in a statement.
Mansour reiterated that the US has long been opposed to unilateral actions aimed at altering the “status quo.”
Photo: Peter Lo, Taipei Times
“It has been our long-standing policy that we do not support a referendum on Taiwan independence,” she said, but cited a speech by US Vice President Mike Pence in October last year in which he said that the US would always believe that Taiwan’s embrace of democracy shows a better path for all Chinese.
The statement came just two days after former AIT chairman Richard Bush’s public letter was published on the Web site of Washington-based think tank the Brookings Institution, addressed to Formosa Alliance convener Kuo Pei-hung (郭倍宏) over the alliance’s call for amendments to the Referendum Act (公民投票法) to pave the way for an independence referendum.
The act does not allow referendums that seek to amend the Constitution or touch upon the nation’s sovereignty.
Kuo’s proposal touches on the US’ national interest in peace and security in the Taiwan area, as well as its long-standing view that neither side of the Taiwan Strait should unilaterally change the cross-strait “status quo,” Bush wrote.
He also warned that such a move could trigger Article 8 of China’s “Anti-Secession” Law, which authorizes the use of non-peaceful means to respond to what it deems separatist actions by Taiwan.
“I am sure you agree with me that a war in the Taiwan Strait, however it began, would be a tragedy for the island and for all that its people have achieved,” Bush added.
While there is an implied commitment of the US to come to Taiwan’s defense if China resorts to non-peaceful means to deal with separatist moves by Taipei, Bush said “that commitment has never been absolute.”
He also said that to his knowledge, US President Donald Trump is skeptical about any US security commitment to Taiwan.
“At a meeting of the National Security Council on Jan. 19, 2018, Mr Trump asked his senior national security team, ‘even more than [South Korea], what do we get from protecting Taiwan?’ The implication of that question is the US commitment to Taiwan is not justified, as far as he is concerned,” Bush wrote, adding that he has not seen evidence that the skepticism has changed.
One of the reasons that the US has expressed support for President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and her administration is because she is cautious and careful, he said.
When asked for comments yesterday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not directly respond to the AIT’s statement, but said that the government has always dealt with cross-strait relations with discretion, and a steadfast and pragmatic attitude.
The ministry called for continued support from the international community for Taiwan, which it said would allow the nation to stride farther and be more determined on its path to defend democracy, freedom and sovereignty.
BREAKING RECORDS: Kuo Hsing-chun’s snatch, clean and jerk, and combined lifts were all Olympic records, although well off her combined world record Taiwanese weightlifter Kuo Hsing-chun (郭婞淳) yesterday completed her elusive quest for Olympic gold, clinching Taiwan’s first win at the Tokyo Games as she set Olympic records in the women’s under-59kg weight class. Kuo, who has not lost a major competition in her weight class since the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, where she was hampered by injury and finished third, finally chased down the gold medal that had long remained just out of her grasp. The 27-year-old finished with a combined lift of 236kg — 103kg in the snatch and 133kg in the clean and jerk — 21kg more
A TAIWAN FIRST: The duo are the first badminton players from Taiwan to climb an Olympic podium, and Tai Tzu-ying has a shot at doing the same today Taiwanese badminton duo Lee Yang (李洋) and Wang Chi-lin (王齊麟) yesterday won the nation’s first Olympic gold medal in the sport when they prevailed over a third-seeded Chinese pair in the final of the men’s doubles at the Tokyo Olympics. Lee and Wang, both first-time Olympians, defeated Liu Yuchen (劉雨辰) and Li Junhui (李俊慧) 21-18, 21-12 in a 34-minute final at the Musashino Forest Sports Plaza. As of yesterday, Taiwan had bagged seven medals in Tokyo — two golds, two silvers and three bronzes — topping its previous best of five medals in 2000 and 2004. Taiwan moved to No. 17 in the
NO ‘ONE CHINA’ LIE: The appropriations act passed the US House of Representatives with a vote of 217-212, but still needs Senate approval and the president’s signature The US House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a foreign assistance spending bill with an amendment forbidding that funds be used to create, procure or display maps depicting Taiwan as part of the People’s Republic of China. The amendment was introduced by five Republican representatives — Tom Tiffany, Steve Chabot, Scott Perry, Kat Cammack and Mike Gallagher — and passed unanimously in a bundle with a dozen other amendments. “This is a common sense measure,” Tiffany said, speaking on the House floor on Wednesday. “As we all know, Taiwan has never been part of communist China. The Taiwanese people elect their
THE HOME TEAM: DPP Legislator Kao Chia-yu said she canceled her booking for an AstraZeneca shot as soon as she heard that the Medigen vaccine was an option President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday said that she would get inoculated with the COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by Taiwan-based Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp (高端疫苗). Tsai wrote on Facebook that she had registered for her first vaccine dose using the national online COVID-19 vaccination booking system, which allows people to indicate their preferred vaccine brand and to make an appointment when the shot becomes available. Tsai said that she opted for the Medigen vaccine — one of three now available on the system, along with the AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines — even though Medigen has yet to deliver any doses or provide a