American Institute in Taiwan says it is opposed to Taiwan independence poll
By Asia Times staff
De-facto US ambassador to Taiwan Brent Christensen, whose official title is director of the American Institute in Taiwan, told reporters in a recent interview that he was a thorn in Beijing’s side long before assuming his position as Washington’s point man on the self-ruled island.
Christensen arrived in Beijing in 2007 for his assignment as Counselor for Environment, Science, Technology and Health, and before long he noticed that the capital city’s smoggy skies failed to clear up even after the city’s meteorologists forecast a blue, sunny day.
He then purchased an air quality monitor and installed it on the roof of the US embassy complex in northeastern Beijing “to get an accurate sense of how bad China’s air pollution really was”.
“No one had a very clear picture on how serious [the air pollution] was, because the Chinese published data that was clearly not accurate,” Christensen told Taiwanese reporters.
With his own, real-time air quality readings published online, Christensen singlehandedly shed light on China’s nebulous air quality monitoring and accountability system as party cadres cheated on their declarations of blue sky days. And unsurprisingly, Beijing started to fume and took its complaints directly to Christensen.
“I do not remember how many times they complained, but I think their complaints just went away when it became obvious that there was such a big demand for this information,” Christensen said.
The US embassy’s realtime air quality index has since become a more reliable gauge, way more so than official readings, of how polluted the air is and if people should wear a mask when going outside.
The Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection ultimately succumbed to the mounting public pressure and began to make public accurate air quality data itself.
Christensen was first posted to Taiwan as a visa officer at the AIT at the turn of the 1990s, his first overseas assignment after joining the US Department of State. Over the course of his diplomatic career, his job has brought him back to Taiwan again and again. He served as AIT’s deputy director from 2012 to 2015.
His expertise on environmental protection also paved the way for a visit by then-US Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy, the first cabinet-level US official to visit Taiwan.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the US’ Taiwan Relations Act and the establishment of the AIT. Christensen said he plans to move his staff to the AIT’s brand-new compound in Taipei’s Neihu District very soon.
When asked to verify reports that US President Donald Trump was skeptical about any US security commitment to Taiwan, Christensen noted that, while there was a commitment [by the US] to come to Taiwan’s defense if China resorted to non-peaceful means to deal with separatist moves, that commitment was “never absolute”, according to Taiwanese papers.
The AIT said in February that it would not endorse a referendum on Taiwan independence proposed by some secessionist groups.
“The US has a deep and abiding interest in cross-strait peace and stability and the US has long been opposed to unilateral actions aimed at altering the status quo… It has been our long-standing policy that we do not support a referendum on Taiwan independence,” read an AIT statement.
Before heading the AIT, Christensen was Director of the State Department’s Office of Taiwan coordination, where he had a primary role in formulating US policy toward Taiwan. His other overseas postings also include Hong Kong.
Before his appointment was announced in May 2018, reports suggested Washington considered whether it was best to appoint a career diplomat or politician to head the AIT and veteran Arizona politician Matt Salmon was also tipped for the role. However it was said that the State Department was keen for someone who would creatively strengthen the US-Taiwan relationship.
Source: Asia Times “Taiwan envoy: US commitment ‘never absolute’”
Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
China is wise to follow Deng Xiaoping’s instruction on giving priority to economic development. When it has attained the goal of building China into a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful by the middle of the century, there will be no problems of US containment, even less Taiwan independence.
The US lays its hope to make China unable to attain its ambitious goal mainly on:
1. China’s domestic disturbance caused mainly by dissents for Western democracy, press freedom, human rights, etc.
China counters that with Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics on a New Year to infuse self-confidence in China’s path, system, theory and culture.
It regards Western, especially American efforts to spread Western democracy and values such as press freedom and human rights as measures to subvert Chinese government. It, therefore, adopts harsh measures to suppress dissents. 709 crackdown was a typical example.
2. Riots for independence in Tibet, Xinjiang, etc., especially the Islamic terrorist attacks that may give rise to panic throughout China.
That is why the US media supports Uygur separatists and describes Uygur terrorist attacks as something caused by Uygurs’ opposition to Chinese government’s restriction to their religious freedom.
Taiwan independence may trigger such Chinese ethnic minority’s riots so that China absolutely disallows that. The situation now is that Taiwanese government is entirely unable to openly advocate independence due to lack of US support. If China takes Taiwan by force, the US may be involved but the US does not have any vital interests in Taiwan to justify a war for Taiwan against China.
Though China is now strong enough to take Taiwan by force and though it is not likely that the US will fight a war with China for Taiwan, Chinese leaders shall be wise not to choose a military solution to the Taiwan issue as wise economic approaches are quite sufficient.
In addition, economic approaches work well due to the stupidity of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. Chinese air force has carried out lots of patrols around Taiwan to give the false impression that China is making preparations for taking Taiwan by force. According to Reuters’ report yesterday titled “Taiwan president warns China against military aggression”, Tsai believes that China is going to take Taiwan by force so that she warns China against military aggression.
What she says on the military tension precisely plays into China’s hands. She makes Taiwanese and foreign businessmen scared so that they dare not invest in Taiwan. Without injection of investments how can she reinvigorate Taiwan’s sagging economy?
Moreover, she is stupid to increase Taiwan’s purchases of weapons for possible resistance against Chinese troops. She simply lacks the common sense that Taiwan cannot afford an arms race with China. She is depriving Taiwan of its limited financial resources for improvement of its economy.
As a result she will be replaced by a pro-Beijing president. When that has happened, China will resume its preferential treatment to win over Taiwan. That is China’s carrot and stick approach. It will be much better than a military approach.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report, full text of which can be viewed at https://www.reuters.com/article/us-taiwan-president/taiwan-president-warns-china-against-military-aggression-idUSKBN1EN0JU.
Global Times Published: 2017/12/10 22:43:42
The minister at the Chinese Embassy in Washington, Li Kexin, said Friday that he had told US lawmakers that the day US Navy vessels arrive in Kaohsiung will be the day the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) unifies Taiwan by force. His remarks have triggered an uproar in Taiwan, with protests from its “Ministry of Foreign Affairs” and Mainland Affairs Council.
Obviously frightened, the Taiwan authorities’ reaction indicates they care about Li’s words and lack faith in their invisible movement toward Taiwan’s independence.
After the US Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2018 in September, which enables naval vessels of Taiwan and the US to pay mutual visits, Taiwan authorities have been both delighted and dubious about the bill.
The island under the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has become deficient of both direction and sense of security.
The Chinese mainland has never given up the option of Taiwan reunification by force, which is clear to people across the Taiwan Straits. But Taiwan is not sure what will prompt the PLA’s actions while the DPP has been deceiving Taiwanese that the island will stay safe whatever it does.
Taiwan knows so little of the mainland’s Anti-Secession Law. The DPP is already approaching the boundary of the law and leading Taiwan to a wrong direction. The sustainability of the island’s development remains uncertain.
Li’s words have sent a warning to Taiwan and drew a clear red line. If Taiwan attempts to hold an independence referendum or other activities in pursuit of de jure “Taiwan independence,” the PLA will undoubtedly take action.
This is the cornerstone of Beijing’s policy on Taiwan that can’t be shaken and also the will of the entire Chinese nation.
It shouldn’t be underestimated, otherwise, Taiwan’s laissez-faire attitude will allow the DPP to make fatal mistakes.
After all, the mainland’s determination to prevent Taiwan from gaining independence far outweighs the DPP’s and overrides the US’ play of the Taiwan card. The mainland has the military strength and strategic will to defy any challenge.
Li’s words are like warning bells on Taiwan authorities considering independence by a salami-slicing strategy. Taiwan is facing what Peking faced in 1949 – being encircled by mainland forces. Any move that oversteps the boundary will be in vain.
The mainland certainly wants a peaceful reunification with Taiwan. But if Taiwan authorities brazenly defy the Anti-Secession Law, using force will be the only choice regardless of cost.
Taiwan authorities are playing a ridiculous trick to run counter to the trend of history. They should avoid misjudging the current situation and refrain from making the worst-case scenario happen.
Source: Global Times “A warning to Taiwan-independence forces”
Note: This is Global Times’ op-ed I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the Global Times’ views.
China will resolutely oppose and contain Taiwan independence, Premier Li Keqiang said in remarks prepared for delivery at the opening of the annual meeting of parliament on Sunday, amid heightened tension between Beijing and the self-ruled island.
China is deeply suspicious of Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, whose ruling Democratic Progressive Party espouses the island’s formal independence, a red line for Beijing, which has cut off an official dialogue mechanism with Taipei.
Tsai says she wants peace with China.
“We will never tolerate any activity, in any form or name, which attempts to separate Taiwan from the motherland,” Li said in a report available before he delivered an annual address to China’s top legislature.
China will protect national sovereignty and territorial integrity while safeguarding peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, Li said.
Defeated Nationalist forces fled to Taiwan in 1949 after losing a civil war to the Communists. China has never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control, viewing it as a wayward province.
In 2014, hundreds of students occupied Taiwan’s parliament for weeks in protests known as the Sunflower Movement, demanding more transparency and fearful of China’s growing economic and political influence on the democratic island.
Chinese jets and warships carried out exercises near Taiwan and into the Western Pacific on Thursday, as Taiwan’s defense minister warned of a growing threat from its giant neighbor.
Li also said the notion of Hong Kong independence would lead nowhere, and Beijing would ensure that the principle of “one country, two systems” is applied in Hong Kong and Macao “without being bent or distorted”.
Hong Kong, a former British colony, returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” formula, granting it extensive autonomy, an independent judiciary and rule of law for at least 50 years.
Hong Kong students organized weeks of protests in late 2014 to push for full democracy, but Beijing declined to make concessions. Chinese leaders are increasingly concerned about a fledgling independence movement in Hong Kong.
Also In World News
Over 40,000 displaced from Mosul in a week as Iraqi forces near old city
Japan PM Abe: North Korea launched four ballistic missiles
China’s parliament last year staged a rare interpretation of the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, to effectively bar pro-independence city lawmakers from taking office there.
Communist Party rulers in Beijing have ultimate control over Hong Kong, and some Hong Kong people are concerned they are increasingly interfering to head off dissent.
(Reporting by Christian Shepherd; Writing by Michael Martina; Editing by Robert Birsel)
Source: Reuters “Premier Li says China will resolutely oppose Taiwan independence”
Note: This is Reuters report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
Trump uses Taiwan as a bargaining chip to force Beijing to give the US trade concessions. However, it provides Beijing with the excuse to create tension in Taiwan Strait.
In its report “China says damage to ‘one China’ principle would impact peace” Reuters quotes An Fengshan, a spokesman for Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office, as saying that the ‘one China’ principle is the political basis of developing China-U.S. relations, and is the cornerstone of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.
According to Reuters, Mr. An says “If this basis is interfered with or damaged then the healthy, stable development of China-U.S. relations is out of the question, and peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait will be seriously impacted”.
That shows that Trump’s interference or damage of the political basis will give Beijing the pretext to attack Taiwan if Beijing wants to take Taiwan by force or to create tension in Taiwan Strait if Beijing wants to scare away investment from Taiwan to make President Tsai Ing-wen unable to achieve much wanted economic growth for Taiwan.
I believe military solution of Taiwan issue is Beijing’s last resort as Beijing has to deal with serious aftermath of the war. Beijing would rather have the excuse to create tension in the strait to scare away investment from Taiwan. Taiwan’s economy will suffer seriously as Beijing will, in addition, cancel the preferential treatment it has provided for the pro-Beijing KMT government.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report, full text of which can be found at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-china-taiwan-idUSKBN14309D
There has been much talk by Taiwan politicians about Taiwan people deciding Taiwan’s future, which is an unrealistic idea.
SCMP’s report today titled “Trolls who targeted Taiwan’s president-elect viewed campaign as talking truth directly to voters” describes the heated debate between Chinese mainlanders and Taiwan people. It reflects the strong nationalism on the Chinese mainland that clearly indicates that it is Chinese mainlanders instead of Taiwan people who will decide Taiwan’s future.
If Taiwan decides to be independent, mainland China will take Taiwan by force. China has built and commissioned its fourth 20,000-ton landing platform dock (LPD). Why does China need so many LPDs? To take the islands occupied by other countries in the South China Sea? No, the islands are very small. One LPD is more than enough.
Do not forget that China has, in addition, obtained 4 Zubr-class air-cushioned landing crafts.
We know that China has declared that it is building a conventional aircraft carrier that cannot carry any AEW&C aircraft. People believe that China is building up a blue-sea navy, but without AEW&C aircraft, the new aircraft carrier cannot join its blue-sea navy. What is the use then of such conventional aircraft carrier?
It can provide air cover to the east of Taiwan island for Chinese landing crafts to attack Taiwan’s eastern coast while Chinese rocket artillery is bombarding Taiwan’s western coast. Conduct surprise attack to win while carrying out frontal confrontation with the enemy. That is China’s gifted strategist Sun Tzu’s teaching.
China’s arms race with the US is, first of all, aimed at taking Taiwan by force in spite of US intervention when necessary!
Comments by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s report, the full text of which can be viewed at http://www.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/1912266/trolls-who-targeted-taiwans-president-elect-viewed