Matters of the heart and soul

During the 19th National Party Congress of the Communist Party of China last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered the following about Taiwan in his speech (begins towards the bottom of page 50):

解决台湾问题、实现祖国完全统一,是全体中华儿女共同愿望,是中华民族根本利益所在。必须继续坚持“和平统一、一国两制”方针,推动两岸关系和平发展,推进祖国和平统一进程。

一个中国原则是两岸关系的政治基础。体现一个中国原则的”九二共识”明确界定了两岸关系的根本性质,是确保两岸关系和平发展的关键。承认”九二共识”的历史事实,认同两岸同属一个中国,两岸双方就能开展对话,协商解决两岸同胞关心的问题,台湾任何政党和团体同大陆交往也不会存在障碍。

两岸同胞是命运与共的骨肉兄弟,是血浓于水的一家人。我们秉持”两岸一家亲”理念,尊重台湾现有的社会制度和台湾同胞生活方式,愿意率先同台湾同胞分享大陆发展的机遇。我们将扩大两岸经济文化交流合作,实现互利互惠,逐步为台湾同胞在大陆学习、创业、就业、生活提供与大陆同胞同等的待遇,增进台湾同胞福祉。我们将推动两岸同胞共同弘扬中华文化,促进心灵契合。

我们坚决维护国家主权和领土完整,绝不容忍国家分裂的历史悲剧重演。一切分裂祖国的活动都必将遭到全体中国人坚决反对。我们有坚定的意志、充分的信心、足够的能力挫败任何形式的”台独”分裂图谋。我们绝不允许任何人、任何组织、任何政党、在任何时候、以任何形式、把任何一块中国领土从中国分裂出去!

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Taiwan President to visit Pacific Islands

President Tsai Ing-wen is leading a delegation to visit three of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies in the Pacific: Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, and Solomon Islands. The delegation departs Taipei today, will make a stop in Honolulu, and will return on November 4 with a stop in Guam. China Airlines is selected to handle the delegation this time.

President Tsai is expected to meet with the head of state of each country and deliver a speech each at the Marshall Islands and Solomon Islands parliaments. She is also expected to meet with the Taiwanese community in Honolulu and visit aid projects sponsored by Taiwan International Cooperation and Development Fund (TaiwanICDF) in the three countries. The ROC first established diplomatic relations with Tuvalu in 1979, with Solomon Islands in 1983, and with Marshall Islands in 1998. Other allies in the region include Kiribati, Nauru, and Palau.

Taiwan to join US Global Entry program

Beginning November 1, 2017, Taiwanese passport holders will be eligible to join the US Global Entry program, designed to expedite immigration and customs processing for pre-approved, low-risk travelers. US citizens enrolled in a US Customs and Border Protection Trusted Traveler Program (e.g. Global Entry, NEXUS or SENTRI) will be eligible to register for e-Gate, an automated border control system for entry into Taiwan, for a fee of NT$3,000 (~US$100). Taiwan will be the 12th country in the world to be eligible for Global Entry, while the US is the first country to be eligible for Taiwan’s e-Gate.

This development follows the fifth anniversary of Taiwan’s inclusion in the US Visa Waiver Program, which led to almost 60% increase in Taiwanese visitors to the US.  American Institute in Taiwan Director Kin Moy and Taiwanese Minister of the Interior Yeh Jiunn-rong announced the launch together with representatives from the US Customs and Border Protection, Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Taiwanese National Immigration Agency.

Independence v. Unification

Two independence movements were buzzing in Taiwan in the past few weeks, with Catalonia seeking independence from Spain and Kurdistan voted overwhelmingly for separation from Iraq. Both ongoing events sparked new discussions on whether Taiwan should be holding an independence referendum, and how China and the rest of the world might respond if a vote took place.

Much like other complicated political problems in the world, however, it is not as simple as an independence referendum. For one thing, there remains large divides within the Taiwanese population on the status of Taiwan as an independent state as well as what that state, if actually independent, should be called. The Taiwan National Security Surveys designed by Duke University and conducted by National Chengchi University in 2016 showed that more than 70% of people surveyed agreed with the following statement:

 台灣是一個主權獨立的國家,它現在的名字叫做中華民國。
[Taiwan is a sovereign independent country, and its current name is the Republic of China.]

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China threatens US Congress over Taiwan legislation

In response to the passage of Taiwan Travel Act in the US House Foreign Affairs Committee on October 12, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson reiterated its continued opposition to any official US-Taiwan contacts, while the Washington Post reported that the Chinese embassy in Washington, DC sent a letter to members of Congress urging them to block Taiwan-related legislation. Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai expressed “grave concern” over the Taiwan Travel Act (House and Senate versions), the Taiwan Security Act and both the House and Senate (section 1270) versions of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act.

The Taiwan Travel Act will encourage official travel between Taiwan and the US. The US Department of State currently imposes restrictions on official travels between the two countries due to the lack of official diplomatic relationship. The Taiwan Security Act and Taiwan-related provisions in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act encourages military exchanges between Taiwanese and American armed forces and authorizes ships to make port calls to both sides’ naval bases. All aforementioned legislation still need to pass both chambers of the US Congress.

Better Taiwan

During Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s National Day address titled Better Taiwan today, she pledged to honor her electoral promises and accelerate reforms, safeguard Taiwan’s democracy and freedom, and to actively seek Taiwan’s place in the new international order.

In particular, she reiterated her government’s approach in dealing with China:

Our goodwill will not change, our commitments will not change, we will not revert to the old path of confrontation, and we will not bow to pressure.
我們的善意不變、承諾不變,不會走回對抗的老路,但也不會在壓力下屈服

She did not mentioned the magic words (“1992 Consensus”) China has been looking for, which naturally drew ire from our neighbor across the strait. Yet as China seems unable to comprehend the lack of support for the so-called consensus in Taiwan, Taiwan-China relations will likely remain in its current state of no official contacts, unless something drastic happens in the upcoming 19th CPC Party Congress.