Posts Tagged ‘Democratic Progressive Party’

Taiwan hits back at WHO exclusion under Beijing pressure

May 8, 2018

Taiwan accused the World Health Organisation of succumbing to political pressure from Beijing Tuesday after the island failed to receive an invitation to a major international meeting.

© AFP/File | China sees self-governing democratic Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting reunification and has used its clout to diminish the island’s presence on the world stage since Beijing-sceptic President Tsai Ing-wen took power in May 2016

China sees self-governing democratic Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting reunification and has used its clout to diminish the island’s presence on the world stage since Beijing-sceptic President Tsai Ing-wen took power in May 2016.

Last year was the first time in eight years that Taiwan was not granted access to the World Health Assembly (WHA) — WHO’s main meeting.

This year’s WHA is to be held in Geneva from May 21-26 and the online registration deadline lapsed on Monday without Taipei receiving an invite.

“We believe the WHO is a non-political organisation pursuing the highest health standards for humanity and should not solely serve Beijing’s political will,” the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) — Taiwan’s agency that handles official dealings with China — said in a statement.

Taiwan’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday it “regretted” that it had not been invited to the WHA.

“Health is a basic human right, as well as a universal value regardless of differences in race, religion, political beliefs, economic or social situations,” the ministry said in a statement.

It added that under the WHO charter, Taiwan should be allowed “equal participation” in all WHO events.

WHO has not yet responded to AFP’s request for confirmation it will not invite Taipei to this year’s WHA.

China’s foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Monday that the island was only able to attend the WHA from 2009-2016 because the previous Taiwan government had a consensus with Beijing that there is only “one China”.

While the former administration touted the agreement as enabling cross-strait relations to flourish without compromising Taiwan’s sovereignty, Beijing saw it as meaning that Taiwan and the mainland are part of a single China.

President Tsai and her independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party have refused to acknowledge the principle which Beijing sees as the bedrock for relations.

“This damaged the political foundation for Taiwan’s participation,” Geng told reporters.

China has also been attempting to exert pressure on international companies to list Taiwan as a Chinese province on their websites, rather than as a separate entity.

The White House said on Saturday that China’s aviation authorities had sent letters to 36 foreign airlines including US firms demanding they refer to Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau as Chinese territories.

“This is Orwellian nonsense and part of a growing trend by the Chinese Communist Party to impose its political views on American citizens and private companies,” it said.

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Taiwan, China spar over Taiwan premier’s independence remarks

April 3, 2018

Reuters

TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan’s government said on Tuesday that China was stirring up its media to threaten the self-ruled island after a major state-run newspaper said China should issue an international arrest warrant for Taiwan’s premier for his comments on independence.

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Taiwanese new premier William Lai.  . REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Taiwan is one of China’s most sensitive issues. The island is claimed by Beijing as its sacred territory and China has never renounced the use of force to bring under Chinese control what it considers to be a wayward province.

China’s hostility to Taiwan has grown since Tsai Ing-wen from the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party was elected Taiwanese president in 2016. China fears she wants to push for formal independence, though Tsai says she wants to maintain the status quo and is committed to peace.

After Taiwan Premier William Lai told parliament on Friday that he was a “Taiwan independence worker” and that his position was that Taiwan was a sovereign, independent country, the widely-read Chinese tabloid the Global Times said he should be prosecuted under China’s 2005 Anti-Secession Law.

“If evidence of his crimes are cast iron, then a global wanted notice can be issued for him,” the paper, published by the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, wrote on Saturday.

Late on Monday, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office weighed in, saying Lai’s comments were “dangerous and presumptuous”, which harm peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and that Taiwan will never be separated from China.

Taiwan’s China policy-making Mainland Affairs Council said the Global Times and Chinese government’s comments were “intimidating and irrational”.

“Taiwan is a democratic, pluralistic society,” it said, adding Lai had consistently followed the president’s policy of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

China “has repeatedly manipulated the media and so-called ‘internet users’ to threaten and repress Taiwan’s government and people, trying to use military blows and legal threats to violate our dignity and interests”, the council said.

“This is not what a responsible party should be doing. It will only increase cross-strait antagonism and damage relations,” it added.

“Over the past two years, our government has not ‘felt animosity towards China’,” the council said. “But mainland China must face up to the reality of the separate governments on both sides of the Taiwan Strait and respect Taiwan’s democracy and will of its people.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping said last month that Taiwan would face the “punishment of history” for any attempt at separatism, offering his strongest warning yet to the island.

Reporting by Jeanny Kao; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Michael Perry

Taiwan Replaces China Affairs Chief To Start “New Phase” in Relationship — Taiwan will no longer report Chinese bombers to the media

February 24, 2018

Taipei – Taiwan replaced its China affairs chief Friday, promoting a minister associated with pro-independence politics in what it said was a bid to forge a “new phase” in relations with rival Beijing.

Analysts said the move, part of a major reshuffle, signalled a push by President Tsai Ing-wen to take a more assertive stance as ties with the Chinese government grow increasingly frosty.

China still sees Taiwan as part of its territory to be reunified and has cut off official communications with Taipei as Tsai refuses to acknowledge the self-ruling, democratic island is part of “one China”.

Chen Ming-tong will take over the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) which oversees Taiwan’s relations with China.

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Chen Ming-tong

He previously served as head of the MAC from 2007 to 2008 under Taiwan’s former president Chen Shui-bian, who was a staunch independence advocate.

“Chen is familiar with cross-strait exchanges… he can also create a new phase and a new vision in cross-strait affairs by returning to the job,” cabinet spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung told reporters.

Presidential secretary-general Joseph Wu, a confidant of Tsai with expertise in international and cross-strait relations, also became the new foreign minister.

The pair replace relatively conservative ministers, indicating Tsai’s intention to take a more bullish approach to cross-strait relations, said Hung Chin-fu, a political analyst at National Cheng Kung University.

“She aims to find a strategic balance, a dynamic equilibrium between the two sides so Taiwan won’t be in a passive situation where it keeps taking punches by China,” he told AFP.

Tsai has pledged to maintain the “status quo” with Beijing but pro-independence politicians in her Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) have criticised her for not taking a tougher stance.

Ties with Beijing have become increasingly tense since Tsai took office in 2016. Beijing has stepped up the pressure on her government with increased military drills and by wooing away Taiwan’s dwindling number of diplomatic allies.

When China last month began operating new flight routes in the Taiwan Strait without consulting the island, Taipei slammed the move as “reckless and politically motivated”.

Taiwan retaliated by blocking requests by two Chinese airlines to operate 176 additional cross-strait flights during the peak Lunar New Year holiday period.

The reshuffle also aimed to boost support for Tsai’s DPP ahead of her mid-term test with key local government elections by the end of 2018, analysts said.

National Security Council secretary-general Yen Teh-fa is also set to replace gaffe-prone defence minister Feng Shih-kuan, who was criticised and ridiculed for giving himself a perfect mark of “100 points” when grading his job performance and for describing himself as “more handsome” than a top movie star.

Source: AFP/zl
Read more at https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/taiwan-seeks–new-phase–of-china-ties-in-reshuffle-9986174

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Twelve Chinese PLA aircraft passed near Taiwanese airspace on Feb. 21

The Ministry of Nat. Defense said the fleet passed south of Orchid Island on a ‘long haul’ exercise over the Pacific

File Photo: Chinese H-6K Bomber and Su-30 Fighter Jet (taken September, 2016) (By Associated Press)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Incursions of the Chinese PLA Air Force into Taiwanese airspace continue to increase, according to a spokesman from the Ministry of National Defense.

On the afternoon of Feb. 21, a small fleet of 12 PLA Aircraft crossed through the Bashi Channel (巴士海峽), south of Orchid Island. The group of planes included H-6K bombers, Shenyang J-11 fighter jets, and possibly Shaanxi Y-8 transport aircraft as well, according to the Liberty Times.

The Ministry of National Defense (MOND) made an official statement that the group was part of a “long haul” flight training exercise over the Pacific Ocean. However, the spokesman emphasizes that the MOND was fully aware of the aircraft and their movements, and that the incursion did not represent an immediate threat to Taiwan.

Reportedly, the exercise of the flight group was “nothing out of the ordinary.”

Since the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in October 2017, flight incursions into Taiwanese airspace and beyond have increased dramatically, which has caused alarm about the potential threat that the PLA airforce may pose for Taiwan.

In late December 2017, the Ministry of National Defense also announced that because of their increasing frequency, that the Ministry would no longer publicize all incursions of Chinese aircraft.

https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3369011

‘No one can exclude possibility’ of China attacking Taiwan, island leader says

January 23, 2018

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen believes one day her country would be able to produce its own submarines, an item Taipei has long pressed for to face China’s navy. (Reuters)
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TAIPEI: Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said that she does not exclude the possibility of China attacking the self-ruled island, amid heightened tensions between the two sides including an increasing number of Chinese military drills near Taiwan.
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Beijing has taken an increasingly hostile stance toward Taiwan, which it considers a breakaway province, since the election two years ago of Tsai of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party.
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China suspects Tsai wants to push for formal independence, a red line for Communist Party leaders in Beijing, though she has said she wants to maintain the status quo and is committed to ensuring peace.
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In recent months, China has stepped up military drills around Taiwan, alarming Taipei. China says the exercises are routine, but that it will not tolerate any attempt by the island to declare independence.
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“No one can exclude this possibility. We will need to see whether their policymakers are reasonable policymakers or not,” Tsai said in an interview on Taiwan television broadcast late on Monday, when asked whether China could attack Taiwan.
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“When you consider it (Taiwan-China relationship) from a regional perspective, any reasonable policymaker will have to very carefully deliberate as to whether launching war is an option,” Tsai said.
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“When our government faces resistance and pressure from China, we will find our method to resist this. This is very important,” she added.
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“In terms of China circulating around Taiwan or carrying out other military activities, our military is carefully following every action and movement in the scope of its monitoring,” Tsai said. “Our military is very confident to face these situations.”
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China considers proudly democratic Taiwan to be its sacred territory and has never renounced the use of force to bring it under Chinese control.
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Taiwan and China have also traded accusations this month about China’s opening of new civilian aviation routes close to Taiwan-controlled islands in the Taiwan Strait.
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Although China has cut off a formal dialogue mechanism with Taiwan, Tsai acknowledged that both sides currently have a method for communications to avoid misunderstanding.
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Taiwan has been pressing for the US, its main source of arms, to provide more advanced equipment, but has also been trying to bolster its own weapons programs, to avoid what Tsai termed “certain political difficulties” that come with buying weapons overseas in the teeth of Chinese opposition.
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Tsai said she believed one day Taiwan would be able to produce its own submarines, an item Taipei has long pressed for to face China’s navy.
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China’s Taiwan Affairs Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tsai’s remarks.
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Taiwan calls China’s new aviation routes in Taiwan Strait irresponsible

January 8, 2018

TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan’s government has called China’s recent unilateral expansion of civil aviation routes in the Taiwan Strait an irresponsible act that threatens regional security, in the latest row between Beijing and the self-ruled island.

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FILE PHOTO: Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen speaks during the end-of-year news conference in Taipei, Taiwan December 29, 2017. REUTERS/Fabian Hamacher

China opened several disputed air routes last week, including a northbound M503 route in the Taiwan Strait, without informing Taiwan, contravening what the democratic government in Taipei said is a 2015 deal to first discuss such flight paths.

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen, after meeting with ministry heads to assess the situation on Sunday, said the move ”not only seriously affects aviation safety, but also damages the current situation in the Taiwan strait.

“This kind of unilateral changing of the situation, this practice that harms regional stability, is not something that will be viewed favorably by the international community,” Tsai said in a statement.

Tsai, who also said during her meeting with officials that China’s increased military activities in the region were threatening stability, called on Beijing to give priority to restore technical discussions on the flight paths.

Beijing’s move comes as China has pressed ahead with a military modernization program that includes building aircraft carriers and stealth fighters to give it the ability to project power far from its shores, and stepped up what it calls “island encirclement patrols” near Taiwan.

Last Thursday, China’s civil aviation authority said in a statement announcing the new routes that planes “will strictly follow the announced flight path”.

“In recent years, the scheduled flights for the strait’s west coast airspace have quickly increased, and the delays are becoming more critical. Using the northbound M503 and related routes will effectively ease the currently existing air route’s traffic pressure,” it said.

China considers Taiwan a wayward province, and broke off official communication with the Taiwan government after Tsai’s independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party won power in 2016.

China suspects Tsai wants to push for formal independence though, she has said she wants to maintain the status quo with China and is committed to ensuring peace.

Reporting by Jess Macy Yu; Additional reporting by Brenda Goh and Michael Martina; Editing by Michael Perry

China, Taiwan spar over Chinese diplomat’s invasion threat

December 11, 2017

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FILE PHOTO: A pro-China supporter adjusts a China national flag during a rally calling for peaceful reunification, days before the inauguration ceremony of President-elect Tsai Ing-wen, in Taipei, Taiwan May 14, 2016. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu Reuters

BEIJING/TAIPEI (Reuters) – A threat by a senior Chinese diplomat to invade Taiwan the instant any U.S. warship visits the self-ruled island has sparked a war of words, with Taipei accusing Beijing of failing to understand what democracy means.

China considers Taiwan to be a wayward province and has never renounced the use of force to bring it under its control. The United States has no formal ties with Taiwan but is bound by law to help it defend itself and is its main source of arms.

Beijing regularly calls Taiwan the most sensitive and important issue between it and the United States. In September, the U.S. Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act for the 2018 fiscal year, which authorises mutual visits by navy vessels between Taiwan and the United States.

Diplomat Li Kexin said at a Chinese embassy event in Washington on Friday he had told U.S. officials that China would activate its Anti-Secession Law, which allows it to use force on Taiwan if deemed necessary to prevent the island from seceding, if the United States sent navy ships to Taiwan.

“The day that a U.S. Navy vessel arrives in Kaohsiung is the day that our People’s Liberation Army unifies Taiwan with military force,” Chinese media quoted Li as saying at the weekend, referring to Taiwan’s main port.

Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said late on Saturday that, while Chinese officials seemed to want to try and win over hearts and minds in Taiwan, they also had been repeatedly using threats that hurt the feelings of Taiwan’s people.

“These methods show a lack of knowledge about the real meaning of the democratic system and how a democratic society works,” the ministry said.

China suspects Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, who leads the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, wants to declare the island’s formal independence. Tsai says she wants to maintain peace with China but will defend Taiwan’s security.

Influential Chinese tabloid the Global Times, published by the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, said on Monday China would never back down over Taiwan.

“The Chinese mainland has never given up the option of Taiwan reunification by force, which is clear to people across the Taiwan Strait,” it said in an editorial.

“Li’s words have sent a warning to Taiwan and drew a clear red line. If Taiwan attempts to hold an independence referendum or other activities in pursuit of de jure ‘Taiwan independence’, the PLA will undoubtedly take action,” it said.

Speaking at a daily news briefing on Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said China would continue to maintain the principle of peaceful unification.

“At the same time, we will resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he told reporters.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Jess Macy Yu; Additional reporting by Michael Martina in BEIJING; Editing by Paul Tait & Simon Cameron-Moore)

Taiwan lawmakers go for the jugular in parliament brawl

July 13, 2017

AFP

© AFP | The Taiwan lawmakers’ brawl was broken up by about dozen people

TAIPEI (AFP) – 

Two Taiwanese lawmakers tried to choke each other during a brawl in the island’s parliament Thursday as the government of President Tsai Ing-wen pressed ahead with controversial reforms.

Female legislators from opposing camps had their hands on each other’s throats as a dozen colleagues pushed and shouted trying to separate them in the main chamber during a review of a major infrastructure project.

The opposition Kuomintang party is against the plan, saying it favours cities and counties faithful to Tsai’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and has been devised to secure support for the party ahead of next year’ s regional elections.

The project includes light rail lines, flood control measures and green energy facilities.

Critics have also questioned whether the whopping Tw$420 billion ($14 billion) cost of the project is really worthwhile.

The review hearing was suspended following the brawl as Kuomintang lawmakers occupied the podium. It was expected to resume Thursday afternoon.

Tsai has seen her popularity plummet to under 40 percent from nearly 70 percent when she took office in May last year as her government attempts to tackle a range of controversial issues from gay marriage to pension and judicial reforms.

Violent protests erupted outside the parliament in April when opponents of pension reforms attacked politicians and scuffled with police, prompting Tsai to call for calm and restraint.

Parliament was also plunged into chaos late last year when opposing lawmakers brawled in the chamber, as labour activists set off smoke bombs outside in protest at proposed holiday cuts.

 

Lee Ming-che Case: First time China has charged a Taiwanese with subverting state power — President Tsai Ing-wen urged to publicly declare Sovereignty

June 3, 2017

PRECEDENT? — Missing rights advocate Lee Ming-che’s case is a landmark, as it is the first time China has charged a Taiwanese with subverting state power, an academic said

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

Taiwan Association of University Professors president Lin Hsiu-hsin, second right, is joined by Economic Democracy Union convener Lai Chung-chiang, left, Raymond Sung, second left, Wu Rwui-jen, a researcher at Academia Sinica’s Institute of Taiwan History, third left, and Taipei North director Kao Jen-shan at a press conference in Taipei yesterday discussing Taiwan’s rejected bid for participation at the WHA last month and the detention of human rights advocate Lee Ming-che in China.

Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times

President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration should publicly declare sovereignty in response to Chinese pressure and the detention of Taiwanese human rights advocate Lee Ming-che (李明哲), members of the pan-green camp and academics affiliated with the Taiwan Association of University Professors said yesterday.

“If the Democratic Progressive Party [DPP] maintains its stance on cross-strait relations in the vain hope of getting a positive response from China, we would just end up in a passive game of dodgeball, being continually pummeled by whatever China decides to send our way,” association president Lin Hsiu-hsin (林秀幸) said, adding that China’s arrest of Lee was a “test” that could pave the way for further aggression.

Lee, an instructor at Taipei’s Wenshan Community College who formerly worked as a DPP aide, has been held incommunicado by China since March on charges of “subverting state power.”

His wife, Lee Ching-yu (李凈瑜), says he went to China to share Taiwan’s democratization experience.

Lee Ming-che’s case is a landmark, as it is the first time Chinese officials have charged a Taiwanese with subverting state power, Economic Democracy Union convener Lai Chung-chiang (賴中強) said, adding that the precedent could easily be extended to charging Taiwanese with engaging in “secessionist activities.”

Bans on subverting state power, armed rebellion and secessionist activities are all included in China’s criminal code and have maximum sentences of life in prison, he said.

“When Chinese authorities announced that they were going to charge Lee with subverting state power, they also effectively announced to all Taiwanese that they can now lay their hands on us directly using their criminal code, rather than using indirect economic pressure and sanctions,” he said, adding that the vague legal wording could allow Chinese authorities to arbitrarily imprison the majority of Taiwanese.

“Almost all of Taiwan’s older generation were in the China Youth Corps [known as the China Youth Anti-Communist National Salvation Corps until 2000], whose mission was to overturn the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regime. Many younger people — including virtually every member of the DPP — could also be imprisoned on charges of engaging in ‘secessionist activities,’” he said.

He urged Taiwanese to boycott the upcoming cross-strait forum to protest Chinese efforts to drive Tsai’s administration to the bargaining table and create an impression among the global community that Taiwanese are subject to Chinese jurisdiction.

National Chengchi University’s Research Center for International Legal Studies researcher Raymond Sung (宋承恩) asked if the government’s stance of upholding the sovereignty of Taiwan as the “Republic of China” was wise in the face of Chinese moves to restrict the nation’s international space, including preventing the nation’s delegation from attending a meeting of the World Health Assembly last month.

“Their position is very clear — the only formula for us to participate is be considered a Chinese province and even then we still have to get an explicit Chinese nod — which is an even lower status than Hong Kong’s, which has formal written rights to participate in certain arenas,” he said. “The key question is whether or not Taiwan has the resolve to face China using the identity of a sovereign state — if not, what other options do we have?”

“Sovereignty is not static, it is the result of dynamic interaction and conflict between domestic and international forces and actors,” Academia Sinica’s Institute of Taiwan History associate research fellow Wu Rwei-ren (吳叡人) said, calling for Tsai’s administration to take action to actively build up national sovereignty, rather than focus on preserving a cross-strait “status quo.”

“Because we lack the protection of international law, failing to actively take steps to build up our sovereignty and preserve our sovereign status will inevitably lead to regression — there really is no way to strictly maintain the ‘status quo,’” Wu said.

New Power Party Secretary-General Chen Hui-min (陳惠敏) called for Tsai’s administration to take steps to actively promote national sovereignty before the CCP’s 19th National Congress later this year.

The Tsai administration’s freedom to act would only be further restricted when Chinese leaders’ hands are freed from internal political distractions following the congress’ conclusion, she said.

http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2017/06/04/2003671872

U.S. Defense Secretary mentions Taiwan at Asia Security Summit

June 3, 2017

First mention of Taiwan at event since 2002

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis at the Shangri-La Dialogue. (By Associated Press)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – United States Defense Secretary James Mattis told the Asia Security Summit in Singapore that Washington would abide by its commitment to Taiwan, reportedly angering Chinese delegates at the event, reports said Saturday.

In his speech at the first plenary session of the event, which is also known as the Shangri-La Dialogue, the Trump Administration official included Taiwan in its regional strategic partnership with countries in the Asian region for the first time since the summit was launched in 2002.

“The Department of Defense remains steadfastly committed to working with Taiwan and with its democratic government to provide it the defense articles necessary, consistent with the obligations set out in the Taiwan Relations Act, because we stand for the peaceful resolution of any issues in a manner acceptable to the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait,” Mattis was quoted by Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post as saying.

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The Taiwan Relations Act was passed after U.S. President Jimmy Carter recognized China and allows Washington to sell defensive weapons to Taiwan. President Tsai Ing-wen’s government is expected to hand over a list with a request for weapons to the Trump Administration, which has been regarded as more willing to supply arms to the island than its predecessors.

Mattis’s speech touched off a furious reaction from Chinese military delegates attending the summit, reports said. The defense secretary sent the wrong message to Taiwan’s pro-independence organizations, the South China Morning Post quoted one Chinese officer as saying.

Another senior military official from China said Mattis should also have mentioned agreements with Beijing, though the defense secretary later actually emphasized that the U.S. would stand by the “One China” principle, reports said.

http://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3179163

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Mattis outrages Beijing with explicit commitment to defend Taiwan — Sparks fly at Shangri-La Dialogue

June 3, 2017

US remains committed to defence of the island but also abides by the one-China policy, US defence chief says at Shangri-La Dialogue

By Minnie Chan
South China Morning Post

Saturday, June 3, 2017, 11:12pm

China’s military delegation to a security summit in Singapore blasted the United States ­on Saturday for underscoring ­Washington’s responsibility to defend Taiwan.

Defence ministers from the US, Japan and Australia also said they opposed China’s land reclamation in the South China Sea and condemned Pyongyang’s nuclear proliferation push.

Addressing the Shangri-La ­Dialogue, US Defence Secretary James Mattis said the US would continue to abide by its commitment to Taiwan, the first time the island has been mentioned by a US delegation to the forum since its inception in 2002.

“The Department of Defence remains steadfastly committed to working with Taiwan and with its democratic government to provide it the defence articles necessary, consistent with the obligations set out in the Taiwan Relations Act, because we stand for the peaceful resolution of any issues in a manner acceptable to the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait,” Mattis said, adding later that the US was committed to the one-China policy.

Lieutenant General He Lei, vice-president of the PLA Academy of Military Science and the head of the Chinese delegation, said the US should not play up the Taiwan Relations Act. “Mattis should not only mention the Taiwan Relations Act, but should also touch on the Three Joint Communiqués [with Beijing],” He said on the sidelines of the forum. He also underlined Beijing’s opposition to US arms sales to Taiwan and ­official contact with Taipei.

 China Lieutenant General He Lei, centre, talks to US Defence Secretary James Mattis, left, at the 16th Shangri-La Dialogue Summit in Singapore on Saturday. Photo: AFP

Enacted in 1979, the Taiwan Relations Act requires the US to go to Taiwan’s defence if the island comes under military threat from the mainland.

Washington and Beijing also signed three statements between 1972 and 1982, with the US acknowledging that there is “one China” across the Taiwan Strait.

Another member of the Chinese delegation, Senior Colonel Zhao Xiaozhuo, said Mattis sent a wrong message to Taiwan’s pro-independence groups during an ebb in cross-strait ties. “[Mattis’ remark] will encourage the independence-leaning movement in Taiwan, which will harm the peaceful development of the cross-strait relationship,” he said.

Relations between Beijing and Taipei have been strained since Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and her independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party came to power last year and refused to recognise the “1992 consensus”, an understanding that there is only “one China”, but each side has its own interpretation of what constitutes “China”.

Taiwanese delegate and former defence minister Andrew Yang Nien-Dzu, said Mattis’ remark had been a strong message to both Beijing and Taipei.

“Washington wants to make clear that its commitment to maintain the stability of the Asia-Pacific region by strengthening alliance partnerships shouldn’t exclude Taiwan,” Yang said, stressing that the Taiwan issue is also a key part of the Sino-US relationship under the “one-China framework”.

But he also said “Tsai’s administration should avoid over-interpreting Mattis’ remark … to [avoid] causing a misunderstanding that Washington and Taipei had colluded to put Beijing in an awkward position”.

Mattis also said the US was ­encouraged by China’s efforts to restrain North Korea but the US would not accept Beijing’s militarisation of islands in the South China Sea.

“The Trump administration is encouraged by China’s renewed commitment to work with the international community towards denuclearisation,” Mattis said. “Ultimately, we believe China will come to recognise North Korea as a strategic liability, not an asset.”

Additional reporting by US correspondent Robert Delaney and Reuters

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 (The “Project of the Century” is, at heart, an imperial venture.)

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For about five years China has been loudly proclaiming “indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea.” China has said, everything north of the “nine dash line” shown here, essentially, belongs to China.  On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China chose to ignore international law.