White House officials and members of the US Congress are concerned that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is becoming too close to China at the expense of relations with the US, says Gerrit van der Wees, a senior policy adviser to the Formosan Association for Public Affairs.
In an online article, van der Wees argues that these officials are pleased with DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) vision of “rebalancing” Taiwan’s relations and moving closer to the US and its allies in the region.
Replying to an article posted last week by US academic Bonnie Glaser of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, van der Wees disputes her contention that the administration of US President Barack Obama has a “clear preference” for Ma. “I cannot agree,” he said.
Glaser wrote that the US announcement of Taiwan’s candidacy for the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and the recent spate of high-level US visits to the country were signals that Washington wanted Ma to win a second term in office.
However, “US officials have clearly stated that the VWP announcement had its own timeline, and was simply the result of Taiwan fulfilling a set of criteria set by the US,” van der Wees says. “Indeed, the negotiations on Taiwan’s participation in the Visa Waiver Program were initiated by the [former president] Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) administration and took several years in coming. Of course it is likely that the Ma administration has worked harder to fulfill those criteria with the upcoming elections in mind.”
In addition, the high-level visits could be a result of the Obama administration listening more closely to Congress where members have been increasingly vocal in arguing for more such visits, he added.
Van der Wees said that Glaser’s article was “problematic” because it portrayed US officials as having “lingering worries” and being concerned about “Tsai’s unwillingness to be forthcoming about concrete policies towards the Mainland that she would pursue if elected.”
“Perhaps these US officials should wonder aloud whether the Chinese leaders are both willing and able to continue the stability in cross-strait relations the region has enjoyed in recent years. They might add that it is far from clear that the leaders in Beijing and their advisers fully appreciate the depth of the mistrust of their motives and PRC [People’s Republic of China] aspirations in countries surrounding China and particularly in Taiwan,” he added.
“Dr Tsai has shown herself to be a creative and pragmatic thinker, but the response — from Ma and from Beijing — has been to revert to old and empty ‘One China’ mantras,” van der Wees said.
The root cause of cross-strait instability, he added was that China does not wish to have a democracy on its doorstep and that it sees Taiwan as a springboard for its power projection into the Pacific.
“Taiwan is not threatening China in any way, except by being a vibrant democracy,” he said.
It is a fiction to believe that by accommodating China on the Taiwan issue, Washington could get it to be more cooperative on other issues, van der Wees said.
“China will play hardball on those other issues no matter what happens in Taiwan,” he said. “The only way to get it to play by international rules is for the US to play hardball in return.”
FATAL FIRE: The health department is trying to contact the inspector who visited the site of the illegal nursing home to ask why they did not advise follow-up checks The Taipei City Government yesterday said that a health department inspector last year had visited the site of a long-term care facility in Neihu District (內湖) after receiving a report questioning its status. A fire broke out at the facility on Tuesday afternoon, killing three people. The Taipei Fire Department said that it received a report about a fire on the first floor of a four-story residential building on Kangning Road Sec. 1 at 2:38pm on Tuesday, firefighters arrived at 2:43pm and the fire was put out by 3:07pm. The firefighters found three men in beds and rushed them to hospital for
Taipei City Councilor Wang Hao (王浩) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) on Monday called for security improvements to the MRT, as fare evasion has increased more than 13-fold on the metropolitan railway system over the past five years. Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) has spoken out against fare evasion and other contraventions of MRT regulations, but since he took office in 2015 the number of contraventions has more than doubled, Wang said, adding that there were 537 cases in 2015 compared with 959 last year. A video was posted to YouTube in June showing people how to evade paying a fare,
FEELING MISUNDERSTOOD: Media speculation has fueled confusion about the KMT’s reasons for skipping a Chinese forum and delaying an AIT meeting, party sources said The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) on Sunday said that it is not seeking to improve relations with the US or China at the expense of the other, and that its relations with the countries would be topic-based. The party has faced questions over its foreign policy after it on Monday last week announced its withdrawal from the annual Straits Forum and delayed planned talks with the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT). The party has also taken a tough stance on the importation of US meat containing ractopamine, while also lambasting China for increasing its military activity in and around the Taiwan Strait. Following
Yuchi Township (魚池) fishers have appealed to the Nantou County Government for help in dealing with an invasive fish species in Sun Moon Lake (日月潭), where it has devastated the local ecosystem. Fishers at Sun Moon Lake have been using electrofishing in an attempt to eliminate the giant snakehead fish — found in Africa and Southeast Asia — but they have struggled to keep up with the growing population of the species, which breeds during September and October, the county government said on Monday. The county has contacted researchers at National Tsing Hua University, saying it hoped they could come up