Some great news came Taiwan’s way on Thursday when the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) announced that Taiwan had been put on the candidate list for the US’ visa-waiver program, taking the nation another step closer to sealing the coveted agreement.
However welcome the news may have been, the timing could hardly have been worse, coming as it did a mere three weeks before the closely fought presidential election. Washington’s decision to make the announcement when it did can be explained in two ways: either is it naive and unaware of the political uses that could be made of the news or, despite its professions to the contrary, it is taking sides in Taiwan’s elections. Either way, this does not reflect too well on Washington’s ability to remain neutral in the electoral affairs of a democratic ally.
Reporters had hardly made their way back from the AIT when Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Tung Kuo-yu (董國猷) was heard hailing the announcement as reflecting Washington’s high degree of confidence in President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). For his part, KMT Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) compared the nomination to a “cardiac stimulant” that gave Ma an advantage over Democratic Progressive Party presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in the election.
What was left unmentioned was the fact that it was the DPP that got the ball rolling on the visa-waiver program, with former envoy to the US Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) and his staff at Taiwan’s representative office in Washington doing the groundwork in 2007. A few more years were required before Taiwan could meet all the requirements for the nomination and admittedly some of the necessary adjustments were made under the Ma administration. However, in the end, the nomination is as much a victory for the DPP as it is for the KMT — in fact, it represents a victory for all Taiwanese.
However, by failing to take the necessary precautions against the inevitable politicization of the announcement, Washington has played into the KMT’s hands, or possibly cooperated with it.
In its press conference on Thursday, the AIT said an agreement on tightening immigration controls against felons and terrorists was the final step before the US could put Taiwan on the list. That agreement, we were told, had been signed the previous day.
Maybe the timing is just a coincidence — and coincidences do happen — but it is very convenient for the KMT that all this happened when it did. The US government could have waited until after the Jan. 14 election to make the announcement, a postponement that in no way would have hurt the KMT or helped the DPP.
One really wonders why, within 24 hours of Taipei signing the document on terrorists and felons, the AIT would rush into making the announcement on the visa-waiver program, especially as Taiwan’s adhesion to the program remains contingent on months of careful evaluation by the US Department of Homeland Security. There simply was no justification for making the announcement at such a highly charged juncture in the presidential election.
Despite the nomination being the result of hard work by both the DPP and KMT administrations, the timing of the announcement now allows the Ma camp to silence some of its detractors, who had accused it of failing to secure anything of substance from the US over the past three-and-a-half years, despite relations between the two allies allegedly being their “closest” in years.
Not anymore, and the KMT has appropriated this success as if the DPP had nothing to do with it. Fool-hardy or malicious, inadvertent or by design, the US has taken sides in next month’s elections.
For Xi Jinping (習近平) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the military conquest of Taiwan is an absolute requirement for the CCP’s much more fantastic ambition: control over our solar system. Controlling Taiwan will allow the CCP to dominate the First Island Chain and to better neutralize the Philippines, decreasing the threat to the most important People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Strategic Support Force (SSF) space base, the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on Hainan Island. Satellite and manned space launches from the Jiuquan and Xichang Satellite Launch Centers regularly pass close to Taiwan, which is also a very serious threat to the PLA,
Taiwan is beautiful — no doubt about it. In Taipei, the streets are clean, the skyline is gorgeous and the subway is world-class. The coastline is easily accessible and mountains can be seen in the distance. The people are hardworking, successful and busy. Every luxury known to humankind is available and people live on their smartphones. As an American visiting for the first time, here are some things I learned about the country. First, people from Taiwan and America love freedom and democracy and have for many years. When we defeated Japan in 1945, Taiwan was freed from Japanese rule. In
The ultimate end of a situation in which communists are in charge of a capitalist economy is economic depression, with China’s economic woes the prime example. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regime has suspended monthly reports on youth unemployment, which had previously been at a record high, going beyond 20 percent and rising. It is often joked about in academic circles that when a national laboratory has made a great discovery, the institution will quickly call a news conference to announce it to the world, but when the research has been a total failure, the institution will keep it under wraps. The
Taiwan’s first indigenous defense submarine prototype, the Hai Kun (SS-711), is to be launched tomorrow and undergo underwater testing next month. It is a major breakthrough in upgrading the nation’s self-defense capabilities, and would make it more difficult for China to blockade Taiwan. Facing Beijing’s escalating military threats and ambitions of expanding across the Taiwan Strait, a domestically developed submarine was first proposed in the 1990s under then-president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝). The Indigenous Defense Submarine (IDS) program was formally initiated in 2016, as President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office, with the aim of creating a fleet of eight domestically developed submarines. The