Articles

US - Taiwan


U.S.-Taiwan relations over the four years of Chen Shui-bian’s first term shifted unevenly between commitment and crisis. The Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) rise to power initially frightened U.S. policymakers, who feared the radicalism of a party long identified with independence.  They discovered that Chen could be pragmatic and willing to accept guidance from the U.S. Under both the Clinton and Bush administrations, Taiwan accordingly received significant support for reform and expansion of its military capabilities; support which sometimes exceeded what the DPP and the Taiwan military were prepared to accept. With the advent of the Bush administration, Taiwan enjoyed an era of unprecedented friendship in Washington, experiencing policies that accorded it more respect and dignity as well as greater access and a higher profile.  Chen, however, pushed the limits by taking several initiatives considered provocative by China and the U.S. without prior consultation with his U.S. supporters.  The result has been anger and friction with uncertain implications for the future.

The election of Chen Shui-bian as president of Taiwan in March 2000 brought the decades-old Kuomintang (KMT) monopoly of power on the island to an end. This peaceful transition from one political party to another signified passage of an important milestone in the achievement of full democracy and was greeted with enthusiasm in the United States. Washington’s pleasure with the growth of democratic institutions, however, was offset somewhat with trepidation as to what a DPP presidency would mean for peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. Thus the U.S. encouraged and warmly welcomed Chen’s inaugural address in which he pledged his four “No’s” and one “Would-Not”: no declaration of independence, no change in the name of the government, no placing the two-state theory in the constitution, and no referendum on self-determination.  At the same time, he would not eliminate the National Unification Council and Guidelines. Indeed in the weeks before the inauguration, Chen persuaded Taiwan supporters in the U.S. Congress to put aside plans to press for passage of the controversial Taiwan Security Enhancement Act. Generally, he sought to broadcast a moderate image abroad and at home as a pragmatic, conciliatory lawyer rather than a pro-independence firebrand. Members of the Clinton administration, who had found the final months of Lee Teng-hui’s presidency alarming and difficult, began to relax.

Daily Digest

NK News – North Korea isn’t happy about South Korea’s conservative resurgence

Some conservative South Korean leaders tend to think that, if a frustrated North Korea resorts to its usual tactics of throwing tantrums, such acts should be countered with decisive countermeasures, including a limited and calculated use of force if necessary.

Nikkei Asia – Myanmar ‘parallel government’ pressures junta ahead of ASEAN meeting

The formation by Myanmar’s anti-coup movement of a “National Unity government” led by elected lawmakers from the National League for Democracy has further challenged the military regime’s claim of legitimacy and deepened the dilemma facing the international community.

South China Morning Post – China deploys long-range rocket launcher ‘as deterrent to India’

The People’s Liberation Army has deployed an advanced long-range rocket launcher to the Himalayas, reinforcing China’s border defense.

Asia Times – Malaysia inches back toward ‘elder brother’ China

While the US has traditionally been an important player in Malaysian foreign policy and a key hedge against an ascendant China, that balancing act began to shift during the Donald Trump presidency.

The Hindu – Adolescent girls grappled with increased pressure to get married, more gender-based violence during pandemic: Study

“COVID In Her Voice: A Girl-led and Centred Participatory Research Study” also found girls spent longer hours on household chores and lacked tools to continue school education online.

Nikkei Asia – US starts pushing Taiwan to address currency practices

The US Treasury said Taiwan, along with Vietnam and Switzerland, have engaged in market interventions to keep their currencies undervalued in the department’s semiannual foreign exchange report, but stopped short of naming them currency manipulators.

Myanmar Now – Some countries will officially recognise Myanmar’s shadow government in the coming days, says new minister

The new interim cabinet was formed by the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, a shadow parliament working underground to topple the coup regime.

South China Morning Post – Hong Kong protests: Jimmy Lai, four ex-lawmakers jailed over 2019 march from Victoria Park

Publishing tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying was jailed for 14 months for his role in two illegal protests during Hong Kong’s anti-government unrest in 2019, while four former opposition lawmakers were also sent to prison.

Japan Times — In break from official line, LDP No. 2 floats Tokyo Games cancellation

The Secretary-general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party said that canceling the Tokyo Games “is still an option,” a rare admission by a top official that has cast further doubt upon the postponed sporting event.

Reuters — Myanmar security forces arrest prominent leader of anti-coup campaign

Myanmar security forces arrested one of the main leaders of the campaign against military rule after ramming him with a car as he led a motorbike protest rally, friends and colleagues said.