Taiwan Uneasy as U.S.-China Relationship Deteriorates
The United States and China closed each other's consulates. Pictured above is the U.S. national flag being lowered at the Consulate General in Chengdu. (Photo from:
Consulates Shut Down as U.S.-China Relations Deteriorate
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On July 21, the United States announced without warning that the Chinese Consulate General in Houston would be closing within 72 hours. On July 23, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a major speech on the Trump administration’s China policy at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in California, pointing out that China is the biggest threat to the world. In his speech, Pompeo called for western countries to unite against Beijing. In response, in the morning of July 24, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced counter-measures to revoke the establishment and withdraw its consent for operation of the U.S. Consulate General in Chengdu.
At 4 PM on July 24, the Chinese diplomats of the Houston Consulate General lowered the flag, removed the national emblem, and evacuated before the closing deadline. When American officials took over, they found three major doors locked, which they broke in by force and had people guard the doors.
U.S.-China conflict has extended from trade and technology to the diplomatic sphere. (Photo from:
United Daily News)
Will U.S.-China Relations Deteriorate Beyond No Return?
United Daily News Editorial, July 25, 2020
Recently, the United States ordered the closure of the Chinese Consulate General in Houston, a decision that sparked diplomatic conflict between the two countries. In response, Beijing revoked the establishment and operation of the U.S. Consulate General in Chengdu, a move which threatens to continue the cycle of retaliation with the United States hinting at more imminent closures. While the situation is still developing, what is certain is that U.S.-China relations are at its lowest point since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries and may rapidly deteriorate into major conflict at even the smallest flare-ups.
As Professor Ezra Vogel at Harvard University points out, war can begin with even small incidents, a fact evidenced by World War I. With pressures mounting between the two countries, the situation might escalate quickly if uncontrolled, leading to catastrophic consequences for the world and especially dire situations for certain countries in their sphere.
With the United States and China in a bitter feud, Taiwan is faced with the challenge of picking sides and hedging. (Photo from:Fair Winds Foundation)
Amid U.S.-China Confrontation, Should Taiwan Pick Sides?
By Chao Chien-min
United Daily News, July 25, 2020
To save his increasingly dire election situation, President Donald Trump of the United States is resorting to an anti-China strategy. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has declared that China’s claims of the South China Sea are unlawful. A week later, he declared the closure of the Chinese Consulate General in Houston because of engaging in espionage activities, and Western democracies must not treat China as a normal country. China countered by closing the U.S. Consulate General in Chengdu. The two-power rivalry has heated up.
In the past three months, besides passing the Hong Kong Autonomy Act, the United States has prohibited officials enforcing the Hong Kong national security law from visiting the United States. It has also added thirty-three institutions on the "Entity List" that are prohibited from traveling to and from China and named four Chinese media outlets "Foreign Missions.” It passed the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act, blacklisted four Xinjiang senior officials. It approved of $620 million Patriot III missiles recertification package to Taiwan. American aircrafts and warships frequently transit the Taiwan Strait. The National Defense Authorization Act of 2021, passed by the Senate, includes provisions that support Taiwan to take part in the Rim of the Pacific Exercise. There is a report that the White House is even considering a travel ban on 92 million members of the Chinese Communist Party!
President Tsai Ing-wen announced that she would push for constitutional reform and support abolishing the Examination Yuan and Control Yuan. (Photo from:
United Daily News)
July 19: At the National Party Congress of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), President and Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen stated that constitutional reform is most important on Taiwan's reform agenda. In addition to lowering the voting age to 18, the DPP will also push to abolish the Examination Yuan and Control Yuan. The Legislative Yuan will begin deliberating constitutional reform in the next session. The Kuomintang (KMT) is expected to undergo internal debate as to whether the party supports abolishing the Examination and Control branches.
July 21: According to a newspaper, the United States announced the sale of PATRIOT Advanced Capability – 3 (PAC-3), which cost NT$18.2 billion (about US$620 million). But the Minister of National Defense Yen Teh-fa and Air Force Commander Hsiung Hou-chi were both unaware. The Air Force Air Defense Artillery Command had acted on its own. The Air Force acknowledged its mistake that its subordinate unit did not abide by the regulation that maintenance fees over NT$1 billion (about US$34 million) must be approved by the Ministry of National Defense and submitted a list of officers to be disciplined.
July 21: The KMT exposed a classified memorandum by the Taipei Economic and Trade Office in Indonesia indicating that Secretary-General Su Jia-chyuan of the Office of the President (then Legislative Yuan speaker) and his nephew Legislator Su Chen-ching excluded the representative office, used a human resources broker Yang Luck International Manpower Group to access high-level Indonesian officials to pursue self-interest, and that a company related to Yang Luck won a tender amounting to over NT$1 billion (about US$34 million) from a Taiwanese state-owned enterprise. Taipei City Councilors Lo Chih-chiang and Yu Shu-hui called upon the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Economic Affairs to explain to the people whether there was any corruption during the process and whether President Tsai Ing-wen was aware.
July 22: The Legislative Yuan passed the Citizen Judges Act, officially adopting Japanese-style system of lay judges. Citizens aged 23 and older will be eligible to serve as citizen judges, who will work with professional judges to try specific criminal cases. The first stage is expected to take effect in 2023.
July 23: KMT Kaohsiung mayoral by-election candidate Li Mei-jhen was alleged to have plagiarized her master thesis. Li announced that she would give up her in-service master degree from National Sun Yat-sen University and request the Kaohsiung Election Commission to delete her graduate degree from her education information under the electoral bulletin.
Li is suspected to have plagiarized content in her master thesis "Analysis of Taiwan's Trade Towards Mainland China" published in 2008. Up to 96 percent of the pages contains allegedly plagiarized content. Li allegedly copied a July 2000 thesis by a master student of National Taipei University. The case has led to questions about the theses and dissertations of many Taiwanese politicians.
July 23: Apropos the cigarette smuggling case which came to light more than a year ago, the Control Yuan issued corrections against the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Transportation and Communications, and the Customs Administration of the Ministry of Finance. But the most critical National Security Bureau was not corrected, and Control Yuan President (then secretary-general to the president) Chen Chu was not held responsible either, creating public uproar. KMT Legislator Lin Yi-hua blasted the Control Yuan for such a disappointing report. According to Lin, the people no longer have positive expectations for the future Control Yuan.