US President Barack Obama must show strong support for the vital security interests of Taiwan, a key strategic partner, when he meets Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (習近平) at the White House, US senators said in a letter to Obama.
The letter, signed by US senators John Cornyn, Robert Menendez and 10 other members of the upper house on Capitol Hill, said that as the rapid modernization and lack of transparency of China’s military troubled its neighbors, Obama should reinforce with Xi the US’ commitment to support the “robust democracy” and Washington’s “steadfast commitment” to Taiwan and its security.
The US Department of Defense reports that China’s large-scale military modernization has “a focus on Taiwan contingencies,” the letter said, with an offensive buildup of more than 1,000 ballistic missiles and an air force that remains primarily focused on “building the capabilities required to pose a credible military threat to Taiwan and US forces in East Asia.”
To this end, the signatories called on Obama to announce the next defensive arms package to Taiwan prior to Xi’s visit to the US.
Obama, who met Xi at the White House on Tuesday, made no such announcement. Although the letter, which was dated Feb. 10, did not specify the type of arms they were hoping Obama would announce prior to Xi’s arrival, this was presumably a reference to the 66 F-16C/D aircraft that Taiwan has been requesting for years.
Cornyn, who represents Texas, where a large Lockheed Martin Corp assembly plant is located, has taken a leading role in recent months in trying to secure the release of the F-16 to supplement Taiwan’s aging air force.
“[I]n the interest of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, Vice President Xi should renounce the use of force by China to resolve its political differences with Taiwan and take tangible measures to reduce China’s aggressive military posture opposite Taiwan,” the letter said.
Barring unforeseen developments in China, Xi is expected to replace Chinese president Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) as general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party later this year and as president in March next year.
Chinese authorities must deal with democratic Taiwan on the basis of equality, the letter said, adding that the “continued denial of the existence of Taiwan under its current Republic of China [ROC] constitutional framework only fosters mistrust and complicates peaceful development” of relations in the Taiwan Strait.
“Taiwan’s future must be decided in Taipei, not in Beijing,” it said.
“To that end, we ask you [Obama] to make it clear that the United States has not only a statutory obligation under the Taiwan Relations Act, but an unwavering commitment to provide Taiwan with the tools necessary for its self-defense — and that no coercion or threatened aggression from China will be allowed to dictate U.S. policy toward our friend and ally, Taiwan,” the letter said.
Besides Taiwan, the senators also called on Obama to restate the strong stance taken by US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at the 2010 ASEAN ministerial conference, in which she emphasized Washington’s desire to see the various territorial disputes in the South China Sea resolved peacefully and through a “collaborative diplomatic process.”
China, which is involved in various disputes over a series of islets in the South China Sea, has occasionally used belligerent rhetoric to support its claims in the region and has launched a major program to modernize the People’s Liberation Army Navy and maritime security fleet.
The letter also addressed China’s undermining of efforts to impose sanctions on Iran over its suspected nuclear weapons program, human rights abuses in China, its failure to protect intellectual property rights and cyberespionage.
WAR FUNDING: A report by UK and Ukrainian defense analysts said that Taiwanese exports of a compound used in gunpowder have been helping Russia propagate its war About 20 percent of nitrocellulose — a compound used in gunpowder — imported into Russia has been sourced from Taiwan, a joint British-Ukrainian investigative report showed. Nitrocellulose is a key component of smokeless gunpowder, and the EU has banned export of the compound to Russia due to its ongoing war of aggression against Ukraine. The report said that nitrocellulose produced in Taiwan makes its way to Russia by passing through other countries such as Turkey. Only one company, T.N.C. Industrial Co (台硝), was named in the report, which also named China and Germany as key sources of the compound for
ROAD SINKING: The road surface of Qingcheng Street near the intersection with Xingan Street in Taipei’s Songshan District collapsed on Friday at about 9pm Grouting was yesterday used to repair a section of road in Taipei, after work on a construction site caused the surface to partially collapse on Friday evening, the Taipei Construction Management Office said yesterday, adding that nearby buildings were not affected. The road surface of Qingcheng Street near the intersection with Xingan Street in Taipei’s Songshan District (松山) collapsed at about 9pm on Friday. When police arrived they found four cars parked by the roadside tilting to one side. Police estimated the area that had subsided was about 4m by 30m, and was about 1.5m deep. They cordoned off the surrounding area
A Singaporean social media streamer who goes by the pseudonym Kiaraakitty faked an egg attack by an alleged passerby during a livestream in Kaohsiung on Feb. 9, the city’s police department said on Saturday. The department was responding to the streamer’s claim earlier this month that a stranger had thrown eggs at her during a recent visit to Kaohsiung. Kiaraakitty is known for posting provocative content on livestreaming sites such as Twitch and Discord, as well as other social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. She also posts on paid adult content Web site OnlyFans. In the video dated Feb. 9,
TAIPEI WATCHING: The speedboat incident must be studied to prevent such incidents from recurring, president-elect William Lai was quoted as saying China’s launch of regular coast guard patrols in the Taiwan Strait after two Chinese sailors died fleeing from the Taiwanese coast guard is unlikely to trigger an escalation, analysts said yesterday. Beijing’s actions are aimed at applying pressure on Taipei and signaling its displeasure at president-elect William Lai (賴清德), not to raise the tensions in the Strait, Institute of National Defense and Security Research fellow Su Tzu-yun (蘇紫雲) said. The situation in the Taiwan Strait is “not particularly hot” as coast guards in the region have used water cannons and ramming during confrontations with foreign ships on multiple occasions, he said. Taiwan should