To Members and Friends
Update 41, July 2013
Forum on Obama-Xi, Xi-Wu summits and unification of China
A forum on Obama-Xi, Xi-Wu summits and unification of China will be held on Saturday afternoon 2-4:30, August 24, at the Chinatown Chicago Public Branch Library. Dr. Yungsheng Cha, Argonne scientist, and Hongwei Li, Chicago HTH President will be the speakers. Free to members.
Forum on Diaoyu Islands
A forum on Diaoyu Islands was held on Saturday, March 16, at the Chinatown Chicago Public Branch Library. Dr. Hong Liu, Professor Yu-hua Wei, and Dr. Tze-chung Li gave talks. Dr. Y. Y. Kuo and Mr. I-cheng Chang gave their comments on the issue. Prof. Edward Ho moderated the forum. Over thirty people attended.
Bates urges dramatic rethink on Taiwan
With Beijing growing in strength, a US scholar is calling for a major rethink on Taiwan in which the island would cut its troop numbers in half and rebrand its army as a self-defence force. The proposal marks a rare break from the conventional view of American and Taiwanese policymakers that the island needs to close the military gap with Beijing, but its author said an opposite course could strengthen Taipei. Scott Bates, president of the Washington-based Center for National Policy, said the balance was "irretrievably shifting" in China's favor and it was politically and economically unrealistic that Taiwan would commit enough to close the gap. Instead, Taipei can take the lead by halving the size of its army, rebranding it as a Self-Defence Force in the style of Japan and renouncing any military action on mainland China's soil, he argued.
China's defeated nationalists fled to Taiwan after defeat by the communists in 1949, with the island developing into a self-ruling democracy. The United States switched recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979 but at the same time Congress passed the Taiwan Relations Act, which requires Washington to provide the island with means to defend itself. Bates said that his proposal would complement efforts by Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou, who has sought to ease tensions with China by expanding economic ties, though domestic critics accuse Ma of jeopardising the island's de facto independence. Bates supported the continuation of the Taiwan Relations Act, saying the island needed a credible deterrent. While cutting its army, Bates called for Taiwan to launch a major upgrade of its air defences and navy to show that any effort to gain supremacy over the island would be costly. The Taiwan Relations Act enjoys virtually unanimous support in the US Congress, where lawmakers have pressed President Barack Obama to sell to the island new F-16 jets - a step that China strongly opposes. Bates' ideas, however, are unlikely to win quick support. (AFP, Jan 25, 2012).
The 'last province': can Taiwan resist Beijing's reunification drive?
On Monday February 25, the issue of reunification was again brought up by President Xi Jinping during a meeting with Lien Chan, honorary chairman of Taiwan's ruling Nationalist Party and former Vice President of the Republic of China (Taiwan).
During the meeting Mr. Xi said that "the new Communist Party ruling collective will continue to push forward the peaceful development of relations between the two sides and advance the cause of peaceful unification". He also pointed out that Beijing is looking forward to the development of the island, stressing that "safeguarding the interests of our Taiwan compatriots and expanding their well-being is the mainland's oft-repeated pledge and solemn promise of the new leaders of China's Communist Party central committee".
In 1954, Beijing [sic. Taipei] and Washington signed the Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty, establishing the Republic of China as part of their collective security system. When the US and China normalized their relations in 1972, American and Chinese leaders issued a joint statement - the so-called Shanghai Communiqué - switching from the "two Chinas policy" to a new line which acknowledged that on this planet there is only one country to go by the name of China. As there was no solution to the underlying issue of reunification, the statement was crafted in a way not to specify if the new China was to be the People's Republic or Taiwan, leaving enough space for reaching normalization but not effectively ending the stalemate.
The diplomatic recognition of People's Republic in January 1979 did not solve the problem either. In the U.S.-PRC Joint Communiqué on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations, the two parts agreed that the government of the People's Republic of China is the sole legal government of China, that there is only one China and that Taiwan is part of it. Within this context, the people of the United States would only maintain "cultural, commercial, and other unofficial relations with the people of Taiwan."
In March of the same year, however, the US Congress enacted the Taiwan Relations Act, according to which the future of Taiwan was to be decided by peaceful means and that any danger posed to the island would be considered by Washington as a grave concern. The TRA provides for the necessity of enabling Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability - which entails transferring weapons to the government in Taipei.
Recent years have seen the development of more friendly ties, especially after the election of pro-China President Ma Ying-jeou in 2008 (then re-elected in 2012). In particular, there has been a sharp rise in economic and people-to-people interactions. According to the Xinhua, in 2012 trade between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan expanded 5.6 percent year on year to US $168.96 billion. Exports to Taiwan rose to US $36.78 billion, 4.8 percent year on year, and its imports from Taiwan reached 132.18 billion U.S. dollars, 5.8 percent up from 2011.
In 2010, the two governments signed the "Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement" (ECFA) to lower tariffs on hundreds of traded goods. According to Xinhua, in 2012 "the mainland imported goods worth 8.43 billion U.S. dollars from Taiwan under the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement, a jump of 105 percent from a year earlier".
Increased economic ties are good both for growth and political relations, but Beijing has not yet come down to the thorny issue of how to unite two very different political systems and two peoples who do not share the same sentiments toward each other. (Michele Penna, asiancorrespont.com, Feb 27, 2013).
China's new leader to continue current Taiwan policy: Ma
President Ma Ying-jeou said March 7 that China will continue its current policy toward Taiwan under its new leadership, and that it is more important to broaden the existing ties than moving toward building a political relationship. (CNA, Mar 8, 2013).
Mainland, Taiwan mark 20th anniversary of "Wang-Koo meeting"
A symposium was held Sunday April 28 in Taipei to mark the 20th anniversary of the historic "Wang-Koo meeting," which laid the foundation for peaceful development of relations between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan.
In April 1993, Wang Daohan, head of the mainland's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), and Koo Chen-fu, chairman of the Taiwan-based Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), met in Singapore, paving the way for the improvement of the cross-Strait ties.
Founded in 1990 and 1991, respectively, the SEF and the ARATS are the non-governmental organizations authorized by Taiwan and the mainland to engage in cross-Strait talks.
At Sunday's symposium, which was organized by the Taipei Forum Foundation, Sun Yafu, vice director of the mainland's State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, said the historic meeting replaced confrontation with dialogue.
The meeting established a common principle of gradually settling problems through negotiation, Sun said.
Wu Po-hsiung, the honorary chairman of the Kuomintang (KMT), said the hard-earned "cross-Strait dividends" should be treasured and mainland-Taiwan relations should never be reversed.
Dozens of academics and officials from the mainland and Taiwan, including SEF Chairman Lin Join-sane and his predecessor Chiang Pin-kung, gathered at the event and raised suggestions for the future development of cross-Strait relations.
Lin Join-sane said the mainland and Taiwan should continue to push for the peaceful, stable and prosperous development of cross-Strait relations. (Xinhua, Apr 28, 2013).