Senior US government officials have made requests to President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration that the nation’s representative to the US Shen Lyu-shun (沈呂巡) be replaced over the controversial flag-raising ceremony at Twin Oaks Estate in Washington on Jan. 1, sources said.
Shen left Taipei for Washington yesterday, earlier than scheduled, to deal with the repercussions of the flag-raising event, sources said.
Sources said that US President Barack Obama’s administration would bypass Shen and discuss US-Taiwan business directly with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Security Council in Taipei.
Photo: Wang Min-wei, Taipei Times
The flag-raising ceremony and the conferment of medals and orders to uniformed military personnel serving in the US led by Shen has met with US reaction more severe than Shen expected.
He likely further provoked the US to make a clearer public response when he fielded questions from lawmakers earlier this week, by calling the unnamed US officials criticizing the flag-raising “nobody” and vowing to continue flying the flag on special occasions in future.
Sources said that after Shen publicly declared the New Year’s Day flag-raising ceremony as a major diplomatic breakthrough, and published a statement and pictures through the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) in the US, the Obama administration made a seven-point statement on Monday morning disclaiming their knowledge or approval of the event.
The statement was announced by a senior official representing the Obama administration during an interview with the Liberty Times, the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper.
US Department of State spokeswoman Jen Psaki announced later the same day in a news briefing that the ceremony was “not consistent with US policy” and that the US did not know about the flag-raising in advance.
However, Shen fought back with harsh comments at the legislature, forcing the US to have the American Institute in Taiwan officially announce that Taiwan ensure that these kinds of things do not happen again, leaving no room for ambiguity for Shen or the Ma administration.
The public back-and-forths between the Taiwanese and US officials have now come to a temporary end, while closed-door negotiations continue.
Shen’s decision to fly the national flag has put the Ma administration in a bind. Since pan-blue supporters in the US and Taiwan lauded the act, replacing “patriotic ambassador” Shen would be denounced by supporters.
However, if Shen is snubbed by the Obama administration and unable to meet relevant US officials in the future, the office could be rendered obsolete, leaving Shen in a similar situation to former representative to the US Benjamin Lu (魯肇忠), who former US president Bill Clinton refused to interact with after his handling of former president Lee Teng-hui’s (李登輝) visit to the US in 1995.
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
NEXT ROUND: About 1.44 million people who have registered online to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine are to get text messages today to book a vaccine appointment Strict border control measures, including a ban on foreign nationals entering or transiting through Taiwan, are to continue, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday, as it reported 10 locally transmitted COVID-19 infections and no deaths. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said five of the cases tested positive during isolation or upon ending it. The sources of infection of eight cases have been identified, one remains unclear and one is under investigation, he said, adding that 87.8 percent of the people infected with COVID-19 since May 11 have been released from isolation. Chen said an
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