Posts Tagged ‘Taiwan’

China promised Philippines not to build in disputed shoal: Philippines foreign minister — “They promised they will not reclaim and build structures on Scarborough Shoal.”

February 23, 2017

MANILA: Chinese President Xi Jinping promised Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte that Beijing would not build structures on a rocky outcrop in the South China Sea, Foreign Minister Perfecto Yasay said on Thursday (Feb 23).

Frosty ties between the two countries have improved as Duterte shifts away from traditional ally the United States and closer to Beijing, though the news came a day after China’s commerce minister postponed an official trip to the Philippines.

Yasay said Xi’s pledge was made during a meeting with Duterte in Beijing in October, after Manila raised the issue, in response to US intelligence reports suggesting China was sending dredging ships to the area.

“President Xi has promised President Duterte they will not reclaim and build structures on Scarborough Shoal,” Yasay told reporters.

He was responding to a query about a Reuters report that China is close to completing structures on its man-made islets that appear designed to house long-range surface-to-air missiles.

China also allowed Filipino fishermen to return to Scarborough Shoal after Duterte’s state visit, for the first time since Beijing seized control of the area in 2012 and denied fishermen access to its rich fishing grounds.

It would be a “game changer” if China broke its promise, Yasay said, but added he was confident Beijing would keep its word.

In Beijing, China’s foreign ministry spokesman said the two sides had reached an important consensus during Duterte’s visit to appropriately handle disputes and pursue joint development.

“The two sides have already returned to the correct path of friendly bilateral consultations to appropriately handle the South China Sea issue,” Geng Shuang said. “Cooperation between the two countries in all areas is flourishing.”

But he criticised Yasay’s recent remarks, saying they “run counter to the countries’ high-level consensus”.

“They do not accord with the current healthy and rapid development of China-Philippines relations,” he added.

“They do not accord with the current overall stable situation in the South China Sea or regional countries’ joint desire to safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea.”

China started reclaiming seven features it occupied in the Spratly islands immediately after the Philippines filed an arbitration case in the Hague in 2013, questioning its expansive claims to almost the entire South China Sea.

Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also claim the strategic waterway, through which about US$5 trillion worth of ship-borne goods pass every year. It is also believed to be rich in oil and gas deposits.

China has built three airstrips and had been converting the manmade islands into garrisons, setting up anti-air missiles and air defence radars, against which Manila protested in December.

Manila would file another protest if it could confirm China was completing missile sites on its manmade islands, Yasay added.

ASEAN unsettled by China weapon systems, tension in South China Sea

February 22, 2017
By Manuel Mogato | BORACAY, PHILIPPINES

Southeast Asian countries see China’s installation of weapons systems in the South China Sea as “very unsettling” and have urged dialogue to stop an escalation of “recent developments”, the Philippines said on Tuesday.

The region’s foreign ministers were unanimous in their concern over China’s militarization of its artificial islands, but were confident a framework for a code of maritime conduct could be agreed with Beijing by June, Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay said.

Yasay did not say what developments provoked the concern, but said the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) hoped China and the United States would ensure peace and stability.

He said demilitarisation would be a key component of any ASEAN-China code of conduct, but it was too soon to say whether Beijing’s dismantling of its weapons installations would be a prerequisite.

“The ASEAN members have been unanimous in their expression of concern about what they see as a militarization of the region,” Yasay told reporters after a ministers’ retreat on the Philippine island of Boracay.

Referring to China’s manmade islands in the Spratly archipelago, Yasay said ASEAN countries had “noticed, very unsettlingly, that China has installed weapons systems in these facilities that they have established, and they have expressed strong concern about this.”

With the Philippines chairing the bloc this year, Yasay’s comments signal a rare, firm position by a grouping that often struggles to achieve consensus, due to its contrasting opinions on how to respond to China’s assertiveness.

ASEAN’s statements of concern often avoid mentioning China by name. Much is at stake from upsetting China, as ASEAN members, to varying extents, are under its influence and need its trade, investment and tourists.

TRUMP UNCERTAINTY

Regional geopolitics has become more uncertain since the election of U.S. President Donald Trump, particularly over his administration’s role in a region strongly courted by Washington during the “pivot” of predecessor Barack Obama.

Friction between the United States and China over trade and territory under Trump has fueled worry that the South China Sea could become a flashpoint.

China claims most of the waters, through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.

China on Friday completed war games with an aircraft carrier that unnerved neighbors. A day later the U.S. navy said its aircraft carrier strike group had started routine patrols in the South China Sea, a step China had warned against.

Yasay said ASEAN nations recognized policies under Trump were still evolving, but hoped they could be unveiled within a few months to provide a “more concrete and clearer picture”, especially regarding China.

“We do not know the complete picture of what this foreign policy might be, insofar as its relationship with China is concerned. We’re, however, hopeful that the policy that would come out will be positive.”

Asked if China was committed to a set of rules on the South China Sea, he said Beijing had shown it was keen.

But all parties should ensure that the code, which has made little progress since the idea was agreed in 2002, needed to be legally “binding and enforceable”, Yasay added.

(Additional reporting by Enrico Dela Cruz and Manolo Serapio Jr; Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Related:

 

China finishing South China Sea buildings that could house missiles – U.S. officials

February 22, 2017

Reuters

Wed Feb 22, 2017 | 3:37am EST

By Idrees Ali | WASHINGTON
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China, in an early test of U.S. President Donald Trump, has nearly finished building almost two dozen structures on artificial islands in the South China Sea that appear designed to house long-range surface-to-air missiles, two U.S. officials told Reuters.

The development is likely to raise questions about whether and how the United States will respond, given its vows to take a tough line on China in the South China Sea.

China claims almost all the waters, which carry a third of the world’s maritime traffic. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims. Trump’s administration has called China’s island building in the South China Sea illegal.

Building the concrete structures with retractable roofs on Subi, Mischief and Fiery Cross reefs, part of the Spratly Islands chain where China already has built military-length airstrips, could be considered a military escalation, the U.S. officials said in recent days, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“It is not like the Chinese to build anything in the South China Sea just to build it, and these structures resemble others that house SAM batteries, so the logical conclusion is that’s what they are for,” said a U.S. intelligence official, referring to surface-to-air missiles.

Another official said the structures appeared to be 20 meters (66 feet) long and 10 meters (33 feet) high.

A Pentagon spokesman said the United States remained committed to “non-militarization in the South China Sea” and urged all claimants to take actions consistent with international law.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Wednesday he was aware of the report, though did not say if China was planning on placing missiles on the reefs.

“China carrying out normal construction activities on its own territory, including deploying necessary and appropriate territorial defense facilities, is a normal right under international law for sovereign nations,” he told reporters.

In his Senate confirmation hearing last month, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson raised China’s ire when he said Beijing should be denied access to the islands it is building in the South China Sea.

Tillerson subsequently softened his language, and Trump further reduced tensions by pledging to honor the long-standing U.S. “one China” policy in a Feb. 10 telephone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

LONGER RANGE

Greg Poling, a South China Sea expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said in a December report that China apparently had installed weapons, including anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems, on all seven of the islands it has built in the South China Sea.

The officials said the new structures were likely to house surface-to-air missiles that would expand China’s air defense umbrella over the islands. They did not give a time line on when they believed China would deploy missiles on the islands.

“It certainly raises the tension,” Poling said. “The Chinese have gotten good at these steady increases in their capabilities.”

On Tuesday, the Philippines said Southeast Asian countries saw China’s installation of weapons in the South China Sea as “very unsettling” and have urged dialogue to stop an escalation of “recent developments.”

Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay did not say what provoked the concern but said the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations, or ASEAN, hoped China and the United States would ensure peace and stability.

POLITICAL TEST

The U.S. intelligence official said the structures did not pose a significant military threat to U.S. forces in the region, given their visibility and vulnerability.

Building them appeared to be more of a political test of how the Trump administration would respond, he said.

“The logical response would also be political – something that should not lead to military escalation in a vital strategic area,” the official said.

Chas Freeman, a China expert and former assistant secretary of defense, said he was inclined to view such installations as serving a military purpose – bolstering China’s claims against those of other nations – rather than a political signal to the United States.

“There is a tendency here in Washington to imagine that it’s all about us, but we are not a claimant in the South China Sea,” Freeman said. “We are not going to challenge China’s possession of any of these land features in my judgment. If that’s going to happen, it’s going to be done by the Vietnamese, or … the Filipinos … or the Malaysians, who are the three counter-claimants of note.”

He said it was an “unfortunate, but not (an) unpredictable development.”

Tillerson told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last month that China’s building of islands and putting military assets on them was “akin to Russia’s taking Crimea” from Ukraine.

In his written responses to follow-up questions, he softened his language, saying that in the event of an unspecified “contingency,” the United States and its allies “must be capable of limiting China’s access to and use of” those islands to pose a threat.

(Reporting by Idrees Ali; Additional reporting by Arshad Mohammed Arshad, David Brunnstrom and John Walcott, and Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Editing by John Walcott, Peter Cooney and Nick Macfie)

Related:

 (President Trump says U.S. will respect “One China” policy.)

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On July 12, 2016 a ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague said China’s nine-dash line claim (shown above) was invalid and not recognized in international law.

Philippine Foreign Minister doubt territory disputes with China will be resolved “In our lifetime”

February 22, 2017
 Reuters
Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. hold a press conference after the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Foreign Ministers Retreat in Boracay. DFA/Released

The foreign minister of the Philippines expressed doubt on Wednesday that a maritime sovereignty dispute with China could be resolved “during our lifetime”, so it was better to set it aside, engage Beijing and avoid an armed confrontation.

In a defense of President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision not to push China to abide by an international arbitration ruling that went in Manila’s favor last year, Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay said there was an impasse that neither side could break, so it was better to maximize benefits from Beijing instead.

During questioning by senators at his confirmation hearing, Yasay said China’s stance and strategic objectives in the South China Sea meant a resolution was unlikely.

“I do not believe personally … that this will be resolved soon, I believe that maybe perhaps it will not be resolved during our lifetime, but the option is not war, that we engage ourselves forcibly to assert our claims,” Yasay said.

“I am not saying this in categorical terms … but now, as you ask me this question, on the basis of what I know and on the basis of pronouncements that have been made, I am not as optimistic.”

Duterte has turned Philippine foreign policy upside down by making overtures towards rival China to attract its trade, tourists and infrastructure investment. Yasay said the new approach was to capitalize on a “convergence of our interests”.

His remarks came a day after he chaired a meeting of Southeast Asian foreign ministers, who expressed “grave concern” over China putting weapons systems on some of its manmade islands in the South China Sea.

China is close to completing almost two dozen structures on those islets that appear designed to house long-range surface-to-air missiles, two U.S. officials told Reuters.

It was not clear whether the Southeast Asian countries were aware of that development when they met on Tuesday in Boracay.

Asked at his hearing if the Philippines owned the disputed islands it claims, Yasay said that would have “no legal basis”.

He said the last year’s arbitration award in The Hague ruled on what features fell within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, but made no decision on sovereignty.

“Even as they have ruled in our favor overwhelmingly, this territory continues to be international waters,” he said.

“We have to prove it (ownership) in the appropriate international tribunal.”

However, he said the 12 nautical mile territorial sea of the Philippines was not in dispute and in the event of an encroachment by China, there would be a forceful defense, and support from the U.S. military as guaranteed in a 1951 Mutual Defence Treaty with Washington.

“That will be the action where we will have to make sure we will be asserting ourselves, defending ourselves, even using force if necessary,” he said.

(Reporting by Martin Petty; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

Related:

 (President Trump says U.S. will respect “One China” policy.)

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On July 12, 2016 a ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague said China’s nine-dash line claim (shown above) was invalid and not recognized in international law.

ASEAN ministers call for continuous South China Sea dialogue

February 21, 2017
Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. hold a press conference after the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Foreign Ministers Retreat in Boracay. DFA/Released

MANILA, Philippines — Foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) noted the importance of sustaining the momentum of dialogue in easing the tensions in the disputed South China Sea, the Philippines’ top diplomat said on Tuesday.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. said that a number of his counterparts expressed concern over the possible militarization of some areas in the region during the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Retreat in Boracay.

“On the South China Sea, a number of ministers expressed concern over recent developments and escalation of activity in the area which may further raise tensions and erode trust and confidence in the region,” Yasay said in a televised media briefing.

The foreign ministers affirmed the importance of pursuing peaceful resolution of disputes without resorting to use of force and in accordance with the international law including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, Yasay said.

Yasay noted that the ministers reaffirmed the need to enhance mutual trust and exercising self-restraint in the conduct of activities in the region to avoid complicating the situation in the region.

“The ministers underscored the importance of the full and effective implementation of the Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea or the DOC in its entirety and efforts within the ASEAN-Chinese process to complete a framework of the code of conduct by mid this year,” the Foreign Affairs secretary said.

The ministers noted that the code of conduct must be legally binding and must cover areas of how disputes will be resolved for it to be effective.

Yasay added that the ASEAN foreign ministers expressed themselves with respect to the July 12, 2016 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration on the Philippines’ protest against China’s nine-dash line claim over the disputed waters.

The Foreign Secretary, however, clarified that the Philippines will pursue its bilateral talks with China to resolve the maritime dispute.

The retreat in Boracay was the first gathering of the ASEAN foreign ministers under the Philippines’ chairmanship.

During the retreat, the ministers discussed the organization’s six priorities: a people-oriented ASEAN, peace and stability, maritime security and cooperation, inclusive innovation-led growth, resiliency, and the ASEAN as a model of regionalism and a global player.

Related:

 (President Trump says U.S. will respect “One China” policy.)

No automatic alt text available.

On July 12, 2016 a ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague said China’s nine-dash line claim (shown above) was invalid and not recognized in international law.

ASEAN unsettled by China’s weapon systems, tension in South China Sea (the bloc hoped China and the United States would ensure peace and stability)

February 21, 2017

Reuters

Tue Feb 21, 2017 | 3:02am EST

By Manuel Mogato | BORACAY, PHILIPPINES

Southeast Asian countries see China’s installation of weapons systems in the South China Sea as very unsettling and want to prevent militarization and urge dialogue to stop “recent developments” from escalating, the Philippines said on Tuesday.

Foreign ministers of the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) were unanimous in their concern about Beijing’s reclamation and militarization of manmade islands, Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay said.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin/File Photo

Yasay did not specify which developments provoked the concern, but said the bloc hoped China and the United States would ensure peace and stability.

“The ASEAN members have been unanimous in their expression of concern about what they see as a militarization of the region,” Yasay told reporters after a ministers’ retreat on the Philippine island of Boracay.

The Philippines is chairman (chair) of the grouping this year and will host its annual meetings, some of which are joined by outside powers, including China and the United States.

Referring to China’s artificial islands, Yasay added, “They have noticed, very unsettlingly, that China has installed weapons systems in these facilities that they have established, and they have expressed strong concern about this.”

Friction between the United States and China over trade and territory under U.S. President Donald Trump have fueled worry that the South China Sea could become a flashpoint, with many Southeast Asian economies are (no need are) heavily dependent on both powers.

China claims most of the energy-rich waters, through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. Neighbors Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.

China on Friday completed war games involving its own aircraft carrier that unnerved neighbors. The U.S. navy on Saturday said its aircraft carrier strike group had begun routine patrols in the South China Sea.

Three days earlier China warned against that, following an incident in early February when a U.S. Navy P-3 plane and a Chinese military aircraft came close to each other over the South China Sea.

Yasay said ASEAN nations recognized policies under Trump were still “evolving” but hoped he would unveil them within the next few months to provide a “more concrete and clearer picture”, especially regarding China.

“We do not know the complete picture of what this foreign policy might be, insofar as its relationship with China is concerned. We’re, however, hopeful that the policy that would come out will be positive.”

He also said ASEAN wanted a framework for devising a maritime code of conduct between China and the grouping to be completed by June, and Beijing had shown it was keen for it to be finished.

All parties should ensure that the code, which has made little progress since the idea was agreed in 2002, needed to be legally “binding and enforceable”, Yasay added.

(Additional reporting by Enrico Dela Cruz and Manolo Serapio Jr; Writing by Martin Petty)

Related:

 (President Trump says U.S. will respect “One China” policy.)

Chinese president calls for broad-brush strategy on national security

February 18, 2017

President urges stronger push to prevent major industrial accidents

By Cary Huang
South China Morning Post

Saturday, February 18

President Xi Jinping on Friday called for an all-inclusive approach to national security to encompass areas ranging from politics to territorial integrity.

At a meeting yesterday of the Communist Party’s National Security Commission, which Xi heads, the president also called for stronger efforts to prevent major industrial incidents.

“The major task of national security work now and in the ­future is to cover areas related to politics, the economy, territory, society and the internet, among others,” state-run Xinhua quoted Xi as saying.

The meeting was attended by top party, government and military officials as well as Premier Li Keqiang and top legislator Zhang Dejiang, two of the commission’s deputy heads.

The meeting was the second in near three years and came just days after a deadly knife attack in Xinjiang.

Public Security Minister Guo Shengkun; vice-minister of foreign affairs Zhang Yesui, who is also in charge of Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan-related affairs; Xinjiang party secretary Chen Quanguo; and Hebei party secretary Jiang Chaoliang also updated attendees on areas under their remit.

Xi also said efforts must be made to strengthen transport safety, fire prevention and the storage of dangerous chemicals to prevent big industrial accidents. Poor regulation and oversight have contributed to numerous major industrial accidents on the mainland in recent years.

Xi also called for more materials, equipment, personnel, law and institutional support to be directed towards national security work.

The commission was established in late 2013 to steer and co-ordinate the country’s national security affairs, previously implemented by various civilian, military and law enforcement bodies.

While it aims to coordinate matters of strategy and security among various departments, the commission is also responsible for crisis and risk management of internal and external security threats.

In July 2015, the National People’s Congress passed a new national security law that was set to strengthen the commission’s role in implementing national security policy. The NSC is among a dozen central leading organs directly under Xi.

http://www.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/2071887/chinese-president-calls-broad-brush-strategy-national

China tells Japan that “negative” moves by Tokyo are preventing an improvement in bilateral ties

February 18, 2017

China has told Japan that “negative” moves by Tokyo on major issues are preventing an improvement in bilateral ties. But Beijing added that there are now opportunities to improve relations.

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Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (above right) told his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida (above left) that both countries “should make efforts to bring bilateral ties back onto the right track,” the state owned Chinese news agency Xinhua reported.

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“The continuous, negative moves made recently by Japan regarding major sensitive issues have caused disturbances to the improvement of bilateral ties,” Wang added, without offering details.

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“Only when Japan honors its commitments and adopts a responsible attitude, thus preventing the occurrence of incidents damaging the political foundation of the China-Japan ties, can there be real improvement in relations.”

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Ties between Asia’s two largest economies have long been overshadowed by arguments over theirwartime history and a territorial argument in the East China Seaover a group of uninhabited islands, among other issues.

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“There are now both opportunities and challenges for improving China-Japan relations,” China’s foreign ministry paraphrased Wang as saying in a statement late on Friday.
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The disputed Senkaku islands (called Diaoyu in China) in the East China Sea, claimed by Japan, China and Taiwan

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He said only when Japan honors its commitments and adopts a responsible attitude, thus preventing the occurrence of incidents damaging the political foundation of the China-Japan ties can there be real improvement in relations.

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Wang and Kishida met on the sidelines of the Group of Twenty (G20) ministerial summit in Germany’s western city of Bonn.

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Kishida said 2017 is a vital year for the China-Japan relations, expressing the Japanese side’s willingness to handle differences between both countries well. He said Japan would work to make events marking the 45th anniversary of the normalization of Sino-Japan ties a success, giving a boost to the improvement of bilateral ties.

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Saying Japan attaches importance to the major concerns raised by China, Kishida reiterated Japan’s stance of not supporting “two Chinas,” “one China one Taiwan,” and not supporting “Taiwanese independence,” saying the stance would not change.

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China this week expressed concern after Japan appeared to receive backing in its dispute with Beijing over islands in the South China Sea during a meeting between US President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

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jbh/kl (Reuters)

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http://www.dw.com/en/china-admonishes-japan-over-bilateral-ties/a-37609379

Trump’s Currency Complaints Hit Unexpected Targets

February 17, 2017

Top-five trading partners China, Japan and Germany brush them off; Taiwan and Switzerland seem to be paying heed

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Feb. 17, 2017 3:47 a.m. ET

HONG KONG—U.S. President Donald Trump’s accusations of currency manipulation appear to be reaching an audience he may not have primarily intended.

Mr. Trump vowed on the campaign trail to revive American manufacturing, in part by taking a hard line on Chinese trade practices and labeling the country a currency manipulator. Since taking office, the president has accused both China and Japan of consistently devaluing their currencies,…

Mr. Trump vowed on the campaign trail to revive American manufacturing, in part by taking a hard line on Chinese trade practices and labeling the country a currency manipulator. Since taking office, the president has accused both China and Japan of consistently devaluing their currencies , while his top trade adviser Peter Navarro has accused Germany of benefiting from what he termed the “grossly undervalued” euro .

All three countries, which rank among the U.S.’s top five trading partners, have brushed off the Trump administration’s claims.

“No one has the right to tell us that the yen is weak,” Japan’s finance minister Taro Aso told parliament on Wednesday, following last weekend’s meeting between Mr. Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe . Japan hasn’t directly intervened in currency markets since 2011 following a major tsunami and resulting Fukushima nuclear disaster.

“The charge that Germany exploits the U.S. and other countries with an undervalued currency is more than absurd,” Jens Weidmann , the president of the German central bank, said earlier this month.

China hasn’t directly commented on Mr. Trump’s criticisms, but most analysts say Beijing recently has been propping up the yuan by selling foreign-currency reserves rather than looking to weaken it.

Still, some smaller economies look like they are taking notice, notably Taiwan and Switzerland. The U.S. Treasury found in October that both had engaged in persistent, one-way currency intervention, essentially by buying foreign currencies like the U.S. dollar and selling their own to maintain weak exchange rates.

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Analysts say the central banks of Switzerland and Taiwan are now stepping back from those activities, perhaps to avoid closer scrutiny from the Trump administration. The upshot: The Swiss franc has advanced nearly 2% against the U.S. dollar this year, while the new Taiwan dollar has surged 5.3%. Both have outperformed the euro and yen since the U.S. election in early November.

Taiwan’s central bank bought $500 million in foreign currencies in the fourth quarter, well below its quarterly average of more than $3 billion since 2012, according to Khoon Goh , head of Asia research at ANZ in Singapore, who said he suspects it is stepping back from “currency-smoothing operations.” The central bank said it doesn’t comment on currency policy.

For the first nine months of last year, the Swiss National Bank /quotes/zigman/1379668/delayed CH:SNBN +0.12% intervened heavily in currency markets to slow the franc’s rise, spending an amount roughly equivalent to its current-account surplus for the period, J.P. Morgan/quotes/zigman/272085/composite JPM -0.76% analysts note. Over the following four months, the scale dropped to around two-thirds of the surplus.

“It’s not an entirely fanciful suggestion that the SNB might be tapering intervention in order to the guard against the risk of being cited by the U.S. Treasury as a currency manipulator,” the analysts wrote in a note.

The Swiss National Bank declined to comment.

For the U.S. to label an economy a currency manipulator under the current law, it must have a large trade surplus with the U.S. and a hefty current-account surplus and persistently intervene in the currency in one direction. As of October, no economies met all three criteria.

Recent comments from officials in South Korea, which the Treasury has flagged for its hefty trade surplus with the U.S. and its current-account surplus, suggest they’re similarly eager to avoid U.S. ire, says Govinda Finn , senior analyst at Standard Life Investments in Edinburgh. The Korean won has surged 5.2% against the dollar this year.

But any gains in the Korean and Taiwanese currencies due to U.S. political pressure may not last, he said: “On a longer-term horizon, there’s a pretty strong case to say both of those currencies can and will weaken as the authorities look to support their economies.”

Jenny W. Hsu contributed to this article.

Write to Saumya Vaishampayan at saumya.vaishampayan@wsj.com

Tillerson, Wang in highest-level US-China meet under Trump

February 17, 2017

AFP

© AFP | US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (left) and China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi take their seats before a meeting at the World Conference Center in Bonn, western Germany, on February 17, 2017

BONN (AFP) – US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on Friday held the highest level Sino-US meeting since the election of President Donald Trump strained ties.Trump outraged Beijing when he appeared to put in doubt Washington’s near-50 year “One China” policy but a conciliatory phone call restating the position cleared the way for Wang and Tillerson to meet on the sidelines of a G20 gathering in the German city of Bonn.

Details of what the two men discussed in the closed-door meeting were not immediately available.

Although Washington severed ties with Taiwan in 1979, it has retained close links with Taipei, particularly in defence, and Beijing watches closely for any sign of US backsliding.

Trump’s telephone call with Taiwan’s president after his November election victory infuriated Beijing which saw it as a repudiation of the “One China” policy.

It had appeared likely that Wang would not attend the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting in the fallout but after Trump’s call with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, it was announced that the trip would go ahead.

Trump described the conversation as “very warm,” in an apparent effort to ease friction over Taiwan and other issues.

The new US president attacked China on the campaign trail for stealing American jobs and running a massive, unfairly won trade surplus with the United States.

Several of his cabinet, including Tillerson, also warned Beijing against throwing its weight about in the South China Sea, insisting the US would preserve international rights of navigation.

The Chinese foreign ministry, announcing Wang’s trip, said Beijing hoped the G20 gathering would “send positive signals on supporting multilateralism, enhancing global governance and creating an innovative, interconnected, open and inclusive world economy.”

Taiwan has been ruled separately since the two sides split in 1949 at the end of a civil war.