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.

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72nd UN General Assembly General Debate

Friendly words highlighting Taiwan’s exclusion from the UN exist, even as China grows more and more hostile every day.

Horacio Manuel Cartes Jara, President of Paraguay:

El Gobierno de la República del Paraguay, nuevamente insta a todos los países miembros de este organismo, a identificar maneras adecuadas para facilitar la participación de Taiwán, en los mecanismos, reuniones y actividades del sistema de Naciones Unidas, para que sus 23 millones de habitantes puedan ejercer normalmente sus responsabilidades de ciudadano global, y realizar esfuerzos concertados para establecer alianzas sostenibles con todos los países.

[The Government of the Republic of Paraguay, once again, calls upon Member States of this organization to identify appropriate ways to facilitate Taiwan’s participation in mechanisms, meetings and activities of the United Nations System, in order to allow its 23 million inhabitants to normally exercise their responsibilities as global citizens and to make efforts to for the establishment of sustainable partnerships with all countries.]

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Nigeria forces Taiwan trade office to relocate

After securing a lucrative investment package from China during the visit of Chinese foreigner minister in January this year, Nigeria ordered Taiwan to rename and move its trade office from the current capital, Abuja, to the commercial hub, Lagos, as well as to reduce the number of staff. Numerous negotiations between Taiwan and Nigeria followed, but to no avail.

Facing strong pressure from China, the director of Taiwan trade office was forced to leave the African country on March 31 as Nigeria could no longer guarantee his safety. Yesterday, Nigeria sent military police to close off the Taiwanese office in Abuja and forced staff to leave. Continue reading “Nigeria forces Taiwan trade office to relocate”

Taiwan President to visit Central America

President Tsai Ing-wen is leading a delegation to visit four of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies in Central America, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and El Salvador, in that order. The delegation will depart Taipei on 7 January, make fueling stop at Houston on the way there, and return to Taipei on 15 January via San Francisco. EVA Airways is selected to handle the delegation visit this time.

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President Tsai is expected to meet with the head of state of each country, and also attend the inauguration ceremony of President Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua on 10 January. She will also visit Taiwanese business in the region and the Secretariat of Sistema de la Integración Centroamericana (SICA, Central American Integrated System, in which Taiwan is an observer) in San Salvador. The ROC first established diplomatic relations with Honduras in 1965, with Guatemala in 1960, with Nicaragua in 1990, and with El Salvador in 1961. Other allies in the region include Belize and Panama (Costa Rica broke relations with the ROC in 2007), making Central America the most Taiwan-friendly region in the world.

The Trump-Tsai Phone Call

By now, most international media around the world have reported and analyzed the meaning behind the phone call between U.S. President-elect and President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan for a full week. Most of the Washington foreign policy establishment had their hands up in the air, criticizing Trump’s move as a major diplomatic blunder, attributed to his lack of understanding of U.S. foreign policy. At the same time, China’s response has tuned up from the mild reaction from Chinese foreign minister to the Communist party papers calling for nuclear arms preparations. The New Yorker suggested that President Tsai probably took a risk making the call.

As Michael J. Cole wrote in his article in The Diplomat:

In the week since the call, the hundreds of articles written about and interviews given on the subject worldwide have largely focused on the mechanics of the call . . . [L]ittle effort was made to analyze why Taiwan’s first female president, in office since May 20 and brought to power in January via democratic instruments, was willing to place a call . . . Even less was said, with a few notable exceptions, about reactions in Taiwan, particularly its 23 million citizens, who far too often in the rare instances of international attention are denied, by omission rather than design, a voice of their own, as if all of them were little more than insentient subjects to the implacable waves of history or the dictates of decisionmakers in Washington and Beijing.

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71st UN General Assembly General Debate

Taiwan has been excluded from the United Nations since 1971. But discontent is mounting, and despite it being fairly close to impossible that Taiwan will actually be included, we press on. We are still lucky that we have some friends that are willing to speak up for us, but nothing has changed. Here are just some tidbits.

From Baron Divavesi Waqa, President of Nauru:

I would like to address the situation of Nauru’s close friend, Taiwan. According to the UN Charter, our mission here is to “reaffirm faith in the fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small.”

Mr. President, therefore, the twenty three million people of the Republic of China should enjoy these same fundamental rights. Taiwan has contributed to the World Health Assembly (WHA) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). They are promoting the Sustainable Development Goals domestically and internationally, and they are helping lead the way to a low-carbon economy.

Taiwan is a key stakeholder in the international community and we should make efforts to regularize their participation throughout the UN system so that we can all benefit from their substantial contributions.

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