Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Taiwan's China Airlines Opens Abu Dhabi Service

This is a good sign of the improvement of the relationship between Taiwan and United Arab Emirates. However, China Airlines should change its name to Taiwan Airline as soon as possible in order not to confuse the passengers.

Taipei, April 25 By Elisa Kao, CNA

China Airlines (CAL), Taiwan's major air carrier, added a new stopover in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), to its Taipei-Vienna route Tuesday.

Foreign Minister Huang Chih-fang, Minister of Transportaton and Communications Kuo Yao-chi and several other high-ranking officials boarded the plane to mark the opening of the service.

A CAL official said the opening of the Abu Dhabi service will be a great convenience to those from Taiwan or Europe who often travel to the Middle East for business, and will help explore other potential tourists to the region.

CAL once operated services to Abu Dhabi in its Taipei-Rome route during the period from 1995 to 2004.

Last October, then Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Ling-san signed a memorandum of understanding with the UAE for the resumption of its service to Abu Dhabi.

CAL will operate three flights on the Taipei-Abu Dhabi-Vienna route per week. With the new Abu Dhabi stopover, the arrival time from Taipei to Vienna will be one hour later than the original Taipei-Vienna flight, the official added.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Taipei, April 23 by Deborah Kuo, CNA

Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Michael Ying-mao Kau, who was appointed by President Chen Shui-bian last week to serve as Taiwan's representative to the European Union and Belgium, said Sunday that he will strive to develop Taiwan's strategic dialogue partnership with Europe.

Kau said the government has decided to increase interaction between Taiwan and European countries, as the region has become as strategically significant as the United States and Japan have traditionally been to Taiwan.

He said that as the development of Taiwan's relations with the United States and Japan has become stable and mature, the country should pay closer attention to and invest more resources in relations with Europe.

He added that after he assumes his new post -- probably in June or July after this year's World Health Assembly (WHA) slated for May 22-27 -- he will strive to implement strategic dialogue between Europe and Taiwan in a bid to keep Europe's governments fully abreast of what is going on in East Asia.

Kau claimed that "most European countries lack strategic perspectives" toward East Asia, except for their colonial legacy and history in this part of the world.
Kau, who has been in charge of Taiwan's efforts to join the WHA -- the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO) -- over the past five years, said that all European countries respect democracy and human rights, a situation that provides a "niche" for Taiwan in terms of cementing bilateral ties.

Taiwan must let the European Union understand that after the Cold War and the disintegration of the Soviet Union, China's rise is a tremendous challenge to the E.U. if the rise is not peaceful.

Kau will succeed Chen Chien-jen, who is set to retire after a long diplomatic career.

Kau, 72, holds a bachelor's degree in politics from National Taiwan University and a master's degree and doctorate in comparative politics and international relations from Cornell University.

Before joining the Foreign Ministry in 2002, he was a professor of politics at Brown University in the United States, chairman of the Association of Chinese Social Scientists in North America, an advisor of the Institute of International Relations at National Chengchi University, and a member of the Advisory Committee of the National Security Council.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Gambia: National Assembly Reaffirms Taiwan WHO Inclusion

April 24, Alieu Badara Ceesay, The Daily Observer (Banjul)

The Gambia's National Assembly has reinforced its call for the inclusion of Taiwan in the World Health Organization (WHO).

In a proclamation issued recently by the Office of the Clerk of the National Assembly, the legislators insisted that the health and medical rights of the 23 million people of Taiwan are fundamental, and should not be denied for any reason.
The National Assembly had last March passed a resolution to support Taiwan to participate in the session and the work of the World Health Assembly and other meetings of the WHO with an observer status.

The lawmakers noted that the exclusion of Taiwan from the WHO is not only unjusifiable, but also in defiance of the principle of universal application for the protection of health welfare of all peoples of the world, and will create a loophole in the global health network, and thus pose a danger to the global community.

They therefore, considering the existing cordial and long-standing bilateral ties between the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the Republic of The Gambia, urged the WHO to invite Taiwan to be an observer of the World Health Assembly and support Taiwan's full participation in WHO Technical meetings, such as the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network(GOARN), the Global Influenza Programme (GIP), and the International Partnership on Avian and Pandemic Influenza (IPAPI).

Sunday, April 23, 2006

"Hu Jintao, your days are numbered"

How can a dictator know the meaning of democracy? All people in Taiwan have their right to decide their future. That is exactly democracy.

Bush warns China to avoid clash over future of Taiwan
By Francis Harris in Washington, Telegraph (21/04/2006)

America and China yesterday exchanged barely veiled threats on the future of Taiwan, as President George W Bush welcomed China's leader Hu Jintao to the White House.

Greeting the first Chinese leader to come to Washington for nine years, Mr Bush laid out the red carpet, complete with a 21-gun salute.

But within minutes, the issues dividing the two nations became starkly apparent as Mr Bush pointedly referred to the Taiwan Relations Act, legislation which commits America to aid Taiwan against Chinese attack.

Casting aside the usually innocuous sentiments reserved for visiting foreign leaders, Mr Bush said the two countries must be candid. "We oppose unilateral changes in the status quo in the Taiwan Strait by either side, and we urge all parties to avoid confrontational or provocative acts," he said.

The American military has noted with concern the deployment of 700 short-range Chinese missiles close to Taiwan and of cruise missile technology which could be used against the US navy's carrier task groups.

Minutes after the Chinese president's arrival, it was announced without comment that the Americans had approved the sale of improved radars for Taiwan's fleet of US-built F-16 combat aircraft.

President Hu responded with a prepared statement in which he acknowledged the deep differences over Taiwan's future.

"Taiwan is an inalienable part of Chinese territory. We will continue to make every effort and endeavour with every sincerity to strive for the prospect of peaceful reunification of the two sides across the Taiwan Strait," he said.

"However, we will never allow anyone to make Taiwan secede from China by any means."
China has regarded the island as a renegade province since 1949 and demands reunification. It says it would regard any move by Taiwan to declare independence formally as a cause for war.

America too opposes Taiwanese independence. But Mr Bush has stated more explicitly than any of his predecessors that he was willing to confront China in any invasion of Taiwan. "Our nation will help Taiwan defend itself," he said in 2001.

Mr Bush and Mr Hu agreed yesterday that Taiwan should remain in international limbo, but could not agree what would happen if the island tried to alter its status. It was one of a number of disputes where no progress appeared to have been made at yesterday's talks.

Although the Chinese offered some movement over irritants in their critically important trading relationship, there was no sign of progress on security issues such as the suspected attempt by Iran and North Korea to acquire nuclear weaponry.

Although trade has grown to once-unimaginable levels, Washington feels that Beijing is enjoying the economic benefits of globalisation without defusing explosive international threats.

Mr Bush focused on North Korea, the impoverished and erratic Stalinist state highly dependent on Beijing's goodwill yet seeking nuclear weapons, but he suggested that little progress had been made. At one point Mr Hu was asked when China would become a democracy with free elections. "I don't know," he said. "What do you mean by a democracy?"

The only unscripted moment came when a Chinese woman screamed at Mr Hu from a camera stand overlooking the White House lawn where the leaders met. "President Hu, your days are numbered. President Bush, make him stop persecuting Falun Gong [a persecuted Chinese sect]," she shouted before being hustled away.

Saturday, April 22, 2006


Taipei, April 22 by Sofia Wu (CNA)

Taiwan will be an "exciting" market if relations across the Taiwan Strait improve, a legendary U.S. investment expert said in Taipei Saturday.

Jim Rogers, a co-founder of the Quantum Fund, one of the world's most successful hedge funds, made the forecast after delivering a speech to local fund managers and stock investors.

Rogers is known to bear a strong confidence in the vast Chinese market. He once famously predicted that China would emerge as the world's largest economy in 20 years. He hires a babysitter of Chinese descent to care for his 3-year old daughter to allow for her to grow in an English-Chinese bilingual environment.
If Taiwan maintains a good relationship with China, Rogers said Taiwan will definitely be an "exciting" market for investors.

Rogers also predicted that the current raw materials market boom will continue gaining momentum in the coming decade. He attributed the phenomenon in part to China's rise.

For those intending to invest in China, Rogers said farm produce, industrial raw materials and tourism-related industries could be the best bets.

Noting that Chinese people have been banned free movements for nearly a century, Rogers said the travel service sector has an amazing growth potential when their government lifts overseas travel ban.

Rogers said he plans to relocate to the greater Chinese region. In addition to Shanghai, Singapore and Hong Kong, he said Taipei is also a possible destination.
Meanwhile, Rogers gave a pessimistic forecast on the U.S. dollar's prospect. The astronomical U.S. trade deficit has dimmed the greenback's value, he said, adding that at least 10 to 12 other foreign currencies, such as the Chinese yuan, the Singaporean dollar and the Canadian dollar, are more valuable than the greenback.

Friday, April 21, 2006


Taipei, April 21 by Chris Wang (CNA)

Taiwan needs to explore a new approach in cooperating with its Latin American allies in order to prevent China from infiltrating a region where Taiwan has enjoyed international amity, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) official said Friday.

China has had its sights set on Latin America since its economic boom, hoping to use financial aid and trade agreements to squeeze Taiwan's dipomatic space in the region, said Jason Ko, Director of the MOFA's Department of Central and South America Affairs, at the 2006 Taiwan-Latin America Forum.

Taiwan must hold its ground in Latin America, where 12 of its 25 diplomatic allies are located, and devise a new approach to replace the traditional way of "dollar diplomacy," Ko stressed. "Our allies in Latin America wanted a brand new cooperation format instead of simply receiving financial aid. They hope to see more investment from Taiwanese businesses," he said.

The "Jung Pang Project," an initiative President Chen Shui-bian proposed during his 2005 trip to Latin America, may be a good start. The NT$7.5 billion (US$250 million) project is aimed at encouraging Taiwanese investment in the region and represents a new diplomatic strategy.

The project was welcomed by foreign representatives who attended the annual forum: Costa Rican Ambassador Oscar Alvarez, Ambassador of the Republic of Paraguay Ramon Diaz Pereira and Guatemalan Ambassador Jorge Ricardo Putseys Uriguen. "I would describe the relationship between Taiwan and Latin America as 'both getting what they want.' Latin America needs economic assistance while Taiwan needs help in the political arena," said Elisa Wang, Dean of Tamkang University's Graduate Institute of Latin America Studies, which organized the forum. "With a brand new thinking and approach, I believe Taiwan and Latin America can create a 'win-win' situation," Wang said.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Ottawa, April 19 by S.C. Chang (CNA)

Taiwan orchids will blend into this year's Canadian Tulip Festival in Canada's capital city of Ottawa May 4-22 when over three million tulips are expected to create an exotic mosaic of color and beauty in the world's largest tulip festival.

Chang Hsin-hsiung, director of the Science and Technology Division of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Canada, said the orchids will not only speak for Taiwan's agricultural technology but also increase Canadian and international awareness of Formosa, "the beautiful island."

Under the auspices of local Taiwanese community groups such as the Taiwanese-Canadian Association and Tzu Chi Buddhist Foundation, Taiwan orchids as well as folk cultures will be featured in a Taiwan Hall, Taiwan Day activities, a flower and design show, and a flower boats parade.

The Taiwan Hall will be part of International Friendship Village activities in an Ottawa park May 12 through May 22, one of the highlights of the Canadian Tulip Festival.

Festival organizers have designated this year's Mother's Day, which falls on May 14, as "Taiwan Day" at the International Friendship Village, when the Taipei Folk Dance Theater will stage two performances in celebration of the day.

From May 16 through May 22, tourism information about Taiwan, tea-making arts, gourmet food and handicrafts, including lanterns, will be presented at the Taiwan Folk Culture Hall.

On May 21 and May 22, Tzu Chi Buddhist Foundation will celebrate its 40th anniversary, an occasion to look back on its previous charity work around the world and share its visions about the future with visitors.

Well-known florists from Taiwan are invited to participate in the flower design exhibition May 19-22 to show off their flower arrangement skills. Along with an international evening gown pageant, the flower design show is another highlight of this year's Canadian Tulip Festival.

On May 21, an orchids-decorated boat will represent Taiwan in a flower boats parade on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa, marking the first time Taiwan has participated in the Flotilla on Canal, the festival's ever-popular parade on water.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Taiwan Puts Six Satellites Into Orbit On US Rocket

by Staff WritersTaipei, (AFP) Apr 16, 2006

A rocket carrying six Taiwanese weather satellites has been successfully launched from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base, officials said Sunday.

The satellites were placed into initial parking orbit about 500 kilometers (300 miles) above the earth some 20 minutes after the US-made rocket blasted off over the weekend, Taiwan's National Space Organization (NSPO) said in a statement.

It will take 13 months for all the satellites, each of which weigh 62 kilograms (136 pounds), to settle in their designed orbital planes of about 700-800 kilometers. They are designed to have a lifespan of more than five years.

The aim is to "obtain the near-real time global distribution of air pressure, temperature, and water vapor of the atmosphere as well as the electron density of the ionosphere," the statement said.

"The data collected are used for weather prediction simulations, global climate-change analysis, and ionosphere and gravity research."

Taiwan, usually hit by typhoons in summer, has paid about 80 percent of the cost of the 100 million US dollar project, called FORMOSAT-3 here and COSMIC (Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere and Climate) in the United States.
The satellites were built and tested in Taiwan, NSPO officials said.

Taiwan launched its second satellite dubbed ROCSAT-2 in May 2004 as part of a 15-year space programme lunched in October 1991 at an estimated cost of 19.6 billion dollars (603.07 million US).

Though designed for scientific research, the French-made ROCSAT-2 satellite can take high-resolution pictures which can be used in different fields including for military purposes, Chen Cheng-hsing, who oversees the ROCSAT-2 satellite programme, has said.

Military analysts said that without a fully-controlled spy satellite, Taiwan would be unable to set up an anti-missile system while rival China increases the deployment of ballistic missiles targeting the island.

China views Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Taiwan's growing economy

Taiwan's economic growth is stably increasing. Who is complaining about Taiwan's economy?

Taiwan's Exports Probably Gained 14% in March, Survey Shows

April 7 (Bloomberg) -- Taiwan's exports, which drove a pickup in the economy in the most recent quarter, probably showed little signs of cooling in March, economists said.

Overseas sales probably rose 14 percent from a year earlier, the same pace as in the first two months, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey of 20 economists. The figures will be released today at 4 p.m. in Taipei.

Booming sales of semiconductors and notebook computers to China and the U.S., Taiwan's biggest markets, has kept the economy humming and the government in February raised its growth forecast for 2006. Exports powered the quickest economic expansion in 18 months in the fourth quarter.

``Demand is strong for notebook computers, cell phones and semiconductors,'' said Forest Chen, chief economist at Taiwan Securities Investment Advisory in Taipei. ``We probably will see double-digit growth in March exports, a pretty good performance considering it is now the weak export season.''

Taiwan's economy grew 6.4 percent in the fourth quarter, accelerating from the previous three months. Companies such as Benq Corp. are among those who've benefited from rising global demand for electronics. Exports account for about half of Taiwan's gross domestic product.

Economists typically combine figures for the first two months to eliminate distortions caused by the Lunar New Year holiday, which fell in January this year and February in 2005.

Taiwan is piggybacking on growing consumer appetite in the U.S., Europe, China and Japan for the electronics it produces.

Booming China

Taoyuan-based Benq expects to more than triple sales of notebook computers this year to as many as 700,000 units, the Commercial Times reported March 30, citing Hung Han-ching, general manager of Benq's information technology division.

Benq aims to sell 300,000 notebook computers in China this year, more than triple last year's number, the Taipei-based paper said. Benq completed the takeover of Siemens AG's unprofitable mobile-phone unit in September.

China expanded 9.9 percent last year, overtaking the U.K. as the world's fourth-largest economy. Rising incomes among the nation's 1.3 billion citizens is spurring demand for Taiwanese electronics.

In the U.S., employers probably added 190,000 workers to their payrolls in March, bringing the number of jobs created last quarter to 603,000, according to a separate Bloomberg survey. An improved job market is pushing U.S. wages higher, bolstering consumer spending and imports. The U.S. is Taiwan's No. 2 export market.

The European Commission on March 3 forecast the economy of the dozen euro nations will grow at the fastest pace since 2000 in the first three quarters of this year.

Taiwan's export orders, indicative of actual shipments in one to three months, rose at the fastest pace in more than a year in February, surging 25 percent from a year earlier.

Taiwan's imports probably climbed 8 percent in March after jumping 47 percent in February, the Bloomberg survey showed. The trade surplus probably rose to $700 million from $603 million in February.

The following table shows economists' forecasts for the percentage changes in Taiwan's exports and imports in March from a year earlier, and for the trade balance.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Taiwan's democracy

All people in Taiwan should cherish the freedom and democracy they own in Taiwan. Taiwan's democracy is not a gift from the Heaven. It is a gift from everyone who made sacrifices for it.

Henry Hyde praises Taiwan's democracy

CHAMPION'S TRIBUTE: The congressman has been a stalwart supporter of Taiwan on Capitol Hill and was awarded the Order of the Brilliant Star with Grand Cordon
By Charles Snyder
Thursday, Apr 06, 2006

Taiwan's representative to the US David Lee congratulates Representative Henry Hyde in Washington on being awarded the Order of the Brilliant Star with Grand Cordon on Tuesday. Lee presented the award to Hyde on behalf of President Chen Shui-bian.

Representative Henry Hyde, the chairman of the US House of Representative's International Relations Committee, praised Taiwan on Tuesday for providing "a great example to the rest of the world about how democracy can work."

"There have been transfers of power from one political party to another. They have been smooth and uninterrupted, and it shows that democracy can work around the world," Hyde said.

"I think the [Taiwanese] people are extraordinarily brave, extraordinarily productive. They have fought Communism successfully by themselves for many years, and they defeated Communism, and are still a free and sovereign state," he said.

"Their interests are our interests, and our interests are their interests. We have a partnership, we have an abiding friendship, and it is something we should treasure," Hyde said.

He made the comments after he accepted the Order of the Brilliant Star with Grand Cordon, one of Taiwan's highest presidential awards, during a ceremony in his House office.

The award is the highest that the president can convey on anyone who is not the head of state of another nation.

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) has praised Hyde as an "outstanding statesman" who has made a "remarkable contribution" to US-Taiwan relations.

Taiwan's Representative David Lee (李大維) presented the award, conveying "the highest regard from our president, Chen Shui-bian, and from all the 23 million people on Taiwan."

In recent years, it has been awarded only to two other Americans, Representative Tom Lantos, the ranking Democrat on the International Relations Committee, who has consistently supported Taiwan, and to Douglas Paal, the former director of the American Institute in Taiwan.

Hyde, 81, plans to retire at the end of this year after 32 years in Congress. During his chairmanship, the International Relations Committee has held several hearings on Taiwan in an effort to highlight the nation's cause.

He has planned a series of hearings on China and Taiwan, but these have been stymied so far, according to sources, by the refusal of Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick to appear.

The award praises Hyde as an "outstanding statesman" who has "devoted himself to promoting cordial relations and close cooperation between the US and the Republic of China [Taiwan].

"His remarkable contributions have won him profound appreciation from the people and government" of Taiwan, it said.

In presenting the award, Lee recalled that in 1979, after then US president Jimmy Carter switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to Beijing, Hyde worked "diligently" and tirelessly to enact the Taiwan Relations Act, which established the framework for "unofficial" US-Taiwan relations since then, and which committed the US to be prepared to defend Taiwan against an attack by China.

"In his service on the International Relations Committee, Chairman Hyde has helped seal our bilateral relations," Lee said.

"Chairman Hyde has been a great friend of Taiwan," he said.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Review of "Forbidden Nation"

The case for a 'Forbidden Nation'

'A History of Taiwan' pretty much encapsulates what you will find in this book from Jonathan Manthorpe
By Bradley Winterton
Taipei Times
Sunday 5 February 2006

A warm welcome is due to a particularly fine book on our island home. It's subtitled A History of Taiwan, and its central chapters do indeed survey the island's paradoxical history in the accustomed manner, though with exceptional clarity. But the greatest strength of Forbidden Nation lies in its treatment of Taiwan's current situation, both internally and as seen from an international perspective.

The book opens with an account of the shooting incident in Tainan on the eve of the 2004 presidential election, and Jonathan Manthorpe's qualities are immediately apparent. He's meticulous but clear-headed, with both the wood and the trees presented in sharp focus. On the one hand Taiwan's media showed itself "scandal and rumor-obsessed," on the other, US forensic expert Henry Lee was "unable to say conclusively that the assassination attempt had not been staged." Few could fault his presentation of the facts, but at the same time he manages to offer a very balanced and fair-minded assessment of this much-analyzed affair.

Then comes the island story, and again the sanity and fairness of the account leaps at you from the page. Everywhere you find the same virtues, displayed in careful yet concise analysis of the pheno-mena, whether it's China's Taiping rebellion or the case of the 18th century impostor George Psalman-azar, who claimed to come from "Formosa."

Most readers of this news-paper will probably be familiar with much of what Manthorpe has to say, with interest inevitably centering on which side he is going to come down on when it comes to the big question of "renegade province" or "de facto independence." Here this author doesn't disappoint. It can be fairly stated that he is a firm opponent of China's claims to hegemony. But nevertheless he is also at pains to point out that Taiwan's very geographical position makes it unavoidably and inextricably vulnerable to the claims of neighboring powers.

A good example of this author's combination of detail and balance comes with the treatment of the life of Chiang Ching-kuo (½±¸g°ê). You know at once that this will be a test case because Manthorpe opens by saying some Taiwanese loathe his name whereas others fete him to the skies. This, you sense, is just the kind of situation the author relishes. So he proceeds with his account, and the result is that you see Chiang as if in a full-length portrait of some Renaissance prince -- opportunistic and Machiavellian on the one hand, but the man who nevertheless shepherded Taiwan into the democratic fold, from whatever personal motives, on the other.

When it comes to the historical basis for China's claim of sovereignty over Taiwan, Manthorpe does not dodge giving his opinion. There's no question that China ever truly ruled the island, he asserts. It's true that prior to the Japanese takeover in 1895 the Qing Dynasty did operate rule of a kind, but this was sporadic, contested, and -- here Manthorpe plays one of his trump cards -- in essence only over the western coastal plain. This is undoubtedly the case. You only have to look at the main map in John Davidson's magisterial tome The Island of Formosa Past and Present, published in 1903, to see that even under Japanese rule the east coast, and the mountains that drop down to it, are labeled "Savage District," in contradis-tinction to the eastern "Territory under actual Japanese adminis-tration." That the situation before the Japanese arrived was little different can't be doubted. And this eastern no-go region on Davidson' s map constitutes some 55 percent to 60 percent of Taiwan's surface area.

The handover of Taiwan to the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) by the international community in 1945 was, Manthorpe argues, in essence illegal. This is probably this book's most original point. "China's claim to own Taiwan and its citizens is based on historically frail arguments and outdated legal concepts," he writes. But this is no partisan anti-Beijing, pro-DPP account of Taiwan's history and current situation. Instead, it's a carefully researched and judicious analysis. In rejecting China's histor-ical claims, therefore, the book deserves to be attended to closely. Clarity and justice, not anti-China rhetoric, are Manthorpe's strongest suits.

The same measured approach is found in his treatment of KMT one-party rule. "It must be acknow-ledged ... that the leavening of economic and social development promoted by the [KMT] in the later years of their exclusive rule made the party's style more akin to strict Chinese paternalism than pure totalitarianism," he writes. On the other hand the Chen administration, in promoting Taiwanese consciousness, has acted "not always wisely."

Nonetheless, this book' s funda-mental position is strongly and unambiguously pro-Taiwanese. "The only people who have established sovereignty over Taiwan are the Taiwanese, no one else ... They do not see why they should be expected to give up their current well-established independence, based on democracy and a vibrant market economy, as a pre-condition for talks with a despotic and repressive regime that has little evident political legitimacy beyond the use of force on its own people ... They have only recently extricated themselves from the coils of the corrupt and dictatorial one-party [KMT] state, and see no reason to jump into the arms of another one, the Communist Party of China."

The topics covered by Manthorpe together constitute a minefield, and yet he tip-toes his way through them with great intelligence and discernment. I have by no means read all the recent English-language books analyzing Taiwan's situation. Even so, if asked to recommend a single volume to a student new to Taiwanese affairs, something that would give both a balanced and a comprehensive account of the state of play here both past and present, Forbidden Nation would be the one I would opt for

Sunday, April 02, 2006

China and Taiwan pose a new problem

Financial Times
By Gary Schmitt and Daniel Blumenthal
Published: 02 March 2006

The last thing America is looking for is another crisis. With its hands full in Afghanistan and Iraq, and talks with North Korea and Iran going nowhere, that is entirely understandable. But even while attention was focused this week on the more positive theme of US-India relations, a potential new crisis was brewing elsewhere in Asia, this time around Beijing and Taipei.

In early February, the Pentagon issued its Quadrennial Defence Review, a strategic review designed to guide US defence thinking over the next four years. China was the only country highlighted in the 90-plus-page report, with a warning that its decade-long, double-digit increases in military spending had “already” put “regional military balances at risk”. China, the review said, “has the greatest potential to compete militarily with the United States”.

At the same time, Washington has begun to adopt a “tough love” approach to China’s trade policies. When the White House released its 2006 economic report, it explicitly tied America’s record trade deficit to Beijing’s decision tightly to limit the renminbi’s appreciation on global currency markets. Putting it more bluntly, John Snow, US Treasury secretary, recently told Congress that China’s leaders “have not lived up to what they said they would do” on this front and warned that the country risked being branded a currency “manipulator” by his department if it did not change policies by mid-April.

Similarly, the Bush administration is unhappy about China’s patchy ­compliance with its World Trade Organisation commitments, especially in the areas of intellectual property rights, labour rights and domestic market access. As a result, the US Trade Representative’s Office is establishing a “China enforcement task force” to help prepare WTO non-compliance cases for the government.

Add to this the tiny bit of co-operation the US gets from China on Iran and North Korea, and the ample trouble China brings with its policies of support for Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Cuba, Sudan and other trouble spots, and Americans increasingly see a country that is not especially interested in becoming a responsible “stakeholder” in the current international system. China and its leaders will do the minimum required to keep the US off its back – but not more than that.

Meanwhile, there are new tensions in cross-Strait relations. This week, Chen Shui-bian, Taiwan’s president, announced that he was getting rid of the National Unification Council. The council, whose function was to set the conditions for unifying Taiwan with mainland China, was created in 1990 when Taiwan was ruled by one party, the Nationalists, and has been operationally moribund for years. Beijing’s reaction – neuralgic to any suggestion that Taiwan is anything but a province of the mainland – was to call Mr Chen’s decision “a grave provocation”. In Washington, the reaction was one of unhappy but muted acceptance.

The immediate cause of the flap was the promise made by Mr Chen in his 2000 inaugural address not to scrap the council. The promise was part of a series of pledges designed to reassure Washington that the new president would not upset America’s “one China” policy. But the underlying cause is that, as Taiwan’s democracy has taken hold and flourished over the past decade, so has the belief among Taiwanese that they are a sovereign, self- governing entity.

Even with the hyper-economic activity between mainland China and the island, fewer than 10 per cent of Taiwan’s population consider themselves simply “Chinese”, according to surveys. Getting rid of the council was one way for Mr Chen to signal that his government was tired of the way the world chose ignore that fact and allow China to squeeze Taiwan military and diplomatically.

This is by no means a partisan position. Ma Ying-jeou, the head of Taiwan’s Nationalists, recently said that his party believed “the people of Taiwan have full authority to determine their future, whether it be unification with China, declaring independence or maintaining the status quo across the Taiwan Strait”. “As citizens of a democratic country, Taiwanese are free to choose which option to pursue,” he added.

Not only do Mr Ma’s remarks suggest that the fuss over the unification council’s fate is overblown, they also indicate that both major parties in Taiwan agree the country already is a sovereign entity with a democratic will of its own. His statement – that Taiwan’s future will be decided by its people – puts the lie to the notion that the cause of cross-Strait tensions is just the “troublemaking” of Mr Chen.

The political tectonic plates that divide the Taiwan Strait are shifting, and they are not moving closer toward each other. Understandably, the US wants to maintain a policy – what it calls the “status quo” – that has preserved the peace and allowed both states to prosper economically for some time. But how long can it do so when China’s ambitions to be a great power pull in one direction and Taiwan’s democratic identity pulls in another?

Gary Schmitt is director of strategic studies at the American Enterprise Institute, and Daniel Blumenthal is AEI’s resident fellow in Asian studies.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Welcome more cooperation

Taiwan's economy and business are gaining more and more influence on international trade. The world can not neglect Taiwan's market and various industries. It definitely benefits the world when more countries cooperate with Taiwan.

2006-04-01 19:50:51, By Wennie Chi and Sofia Wu, CNA

Washington, March 31 (CNA) Taiwan looks forward to signing a free trade agreement (FTA) with the United States before the expiration of the U.S. Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) next June, Taiwan's deputy representative in Washington, D.C. said Friday.

Speaking at a seminar on Capitol Hill, Stanley Kao said a Taiwan-U.S. FTA would bring enormous benefits to both countries and that Taiwan is always ready to negotiate relevant terms with the United States.

Hopefully, Kao said, an FTA can be fleshed out before the TPA -- an act that authorizes the U.S. administration to sign bilateral and multilateral agreements with foreign governments to promote free trade without prior congressional approval -- expires in June 2007.

It marked the first time that Taiwan has ever explicitly spelled out a desired timetable for signing an FTA with the United States.

The seminar was organized by the Association on Third World Affairs, a non-governmental organization, to discuss issues regarding free and fair trade. Participants at the seminar included Angelos Pangratis, European Union deputy ambassador to the U.S., Roberto Abdenur, Brazilian ambassador to the U.S., and diplomatic mission chiefs of many other countries stationed in Washington.

Emphasizing that an FTA is critical to both sides, Kao said the United States would see a more-than 100 percent growth in its auto, rice, fish and other foodstuff exports to Taiwan after the signing of such an accord.

On the whole, Kao said, the annual U.S. exports to Taiwan would post an estimated 16 percent growth from the present level should an FTA take effect. In dollar terms, he added, annual U.S. exports to Taiwan would increase by US$6.6 billion.

For Taiwan, Kao said, the FTA would have a "locomotive effect" that might prompt other countries to follow suit. Because of China's diplomatic embargo against Taiwan, Kao went on, Taiwan is facing the threat of being marginalized in the Asia-Pacific region and having a hard time forging bilateral ties with major countries around the world.

Describing the signing of FTAs with major countries around the world as being imperative to sustain Taiwan's competitiveness, Kao said Taiwan is well-prepared for FTA talks with the United States at any time.