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.
‘HIDDEN GEM’: The city earned plaudits for its low crime rate, world-class healthcare system, cheap cost of living and easy public transportation Taipei has been named the 10th best city in the world for quality of living in an annual survey by the editors of Monocle, a UK-based global affairs and lifestyle magazine. The survey, which is to be published in the magazine’s July/August issue, selected the world’s top 25 cities based on factors including cost of living, retail, hospitality, culture and access to green spaces, as well as feedback from Monocle correspondents. Taipei’s 10th place finish was one place down from a year earlier. The survey ranked Copenhagen as the world’s best city, with Zurich, Lisbon, Helsinki and Stockholm rounding out the top five.
GLOBAL STRATEGY: Indo-Pacific alliances need reinforcement to prevent Chinese occupation of Taiwan, which would threaten Japan, Hawaii and Australia, Pompeo said The US should officially recognize Taiwan as a free, independent nation and establish official diplomatic ties, former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo told an event at the Hudson Institute in Washington on Friday. Every US president since Harry Truman has considered Taiwan’s existence to be of utmost importance to US national security, Pompeo said. Taiwan is a principal US partner in technology and economic matters, and if China were to capture Taiwan’s semiconductor supply chain, it would severely hamper the US economy, Pompeo said. Should China occupy Taiwan, it would severely weaken US influence in the Indo-Pacific region and its surrounding areas,
NO COMORBIDITIES: The girl died of encephalitis, the sixth COVID-19-related death of the disease this year and 19th death of a child from the virus, the center said The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported 52,213 new domestically transmitted COVID-19 cases and 171 deaths from the virus, including a four-year-old girl, who had been diagnosed with encephalitis, and a 19-year-old man, who had underlying health conditions. “The caseloads are usually higher on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but they [yesterday] fell 7.3 percent from the day before,” Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said. Chuang, who is the CECC’s spokesman, said that most cities and counties reported a drop in new cases, and the CECC expects fewer than 50,000 new cases today. The center said that 150 of
LIMIT: The CECC has capped the number of weekly arrivals to 25,000, which critics said has limited the number of available flights and caused ticket prices to soar The government is not likely to raise the cap on the number of inbound travelers before the end of this month, despite the apparent effect on the number of inbound flights, Minister of Transportation and Communications Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材) said yesterday. The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Wednesday last week eased quarantine rules for inbound travelers, who must undergo three days of home quarantine upon arrival and spend another four days in self-initiated disease prevention. It also capped the number of inbound travelers to 25,000 per week. The weekly limit has drawn criticism that it has limited the number of flights