Tag Archives: Taiwan

Return to WHO

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

When the coronavirus pandemic was picking up a head of deadly steam, Donald J. Trump became so angry with the World Health Organization that he — get this — pulled the United States out of the organization.

He blamed the WHO for covering up China’s alleged secrecy surrounding the cases that were spreading around the world. So, rather than keeping the country involved with the health organization, he pulled us out.

That’ll show ’em, he said.

Donald Trump is now on his way out of office and his successor, President-elect Joe Biden, is planning to sign a series of executive orders as soon as he takes the oath of office. One of them will return the United States to the WHO, enabling us to rely once again on the medical expertise that WHO’s infectious disease doctors can provide.

To be clear on one point, WHO membership doesn’t guarantee success in the fight against the pandemic. Taiwan, for instance, is not a member of WHO. Why? The People’s Republic of China bans Taiwan’s membership because the PRC considers Taiwan to be a renegade province of China. Taiwan, meanwhile, has done very well in stemming the infection and death rate, even without WHO assistance.

The United States hasn’t had that kind of success. Our death rates continue at a distressing rate. Too many Americans are dying daily. Donald Trump’s response has been feckless and futile.

Joe Biden intends to return this country to the community of nations that rely on our expertise. Indeed, we also can rely on the expertise of other nations to battle a killer virus.

WHO membership during these perilous times isn’t necessarily vital. However, it is important.

U.S.-China relations get even stickier

As if relations between the United States and China needed to get even more prickly … we have this bit of news.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar is visiting Taiwan, the country that the PRC considers to be a “renegade province.” Taiwan has no official diplomatic relationship with virtually the entire world, which essentially recognizes a “one-China” policy.

Well, let me stipulate one point.

I have visited Taiwan five times dating back to 1989. I have seen the country up close. It is a vibrant, successful and energetic democracy. It is far from being the “renegade province” the PRC says it is.

It did break away from the PRC after a bloody civil war in 1949, when the communists seized power from the ruling nationalist party. It operated under martial law for decades in the years since then. It lifted the martial law a few years back.

Taiwan operates as an independent nation. It just has declined to declare its independence, concerned about a possible military reaction from Beijing were it to do so.

Over time, Taiwan’s population has become more native to the island nation, with far fewer citizens with roots in the PRC.

It’s an independent nation. Still, Secretary Azar needs to take care that he doesn’t say something that will rile the commies on the mainland even more than they no doubt already have become.

This, I submit, China-Taiwan is one of the world’s most complicated relationships. Tread carefully, Mr. Secretary.

Earth to Beijing: Taiwan is a nation, not a ‘province’

The People’s Republic of China is engaging in what the White House calls “Orwellian nonsense.”

The PRC is angry at private commercial air carriers because they refer to Taiwan as a “country.”

Oh, brother.

It’s complicated.

Taiwan broke away from China in 1949 after a bloody civil war. The communists kicked the Nationalist Party out of power. The Nationalists moved to Taiwan and set up a separate government. The PRC runs the mainland; Taiwan has taken on a new identity, although it is not recognized throughout most of the world as a sovereign state. China calls Taiwan a “renegade province” and has vowed to take it back — by force if necessary.

Believe me. It is. I’ve been to Taiwan five times since 1989. It is a country.

Thus, the White House’s criticism of the PRC is on point. As The Hill reported: “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,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

Sanders also vowed that “China’s efforts to export its censorship and political correctness to Americans and the rest of the free world will be resisted.” 

“The United States strongly objects to China’s attempts to compel private firms to use specific language of a political nature in their publicly available content,” she said.

Sanders is correct to condemn China for seeking to dictate to private firms how it should refer to countries — and governments — with which they do business.

Taiwan operates in a sort of parallel universe with the rest of the world. The United States withdrew its diplomatic recognition of Taiwan — officially known as the Republic of China — in 1978. The United Nations expelled Taiwan at that time so that the PRC could join the body.

Yet, Taiwan continues to function as a de facto independent nation, although it has never officially declared its independence from the PRC. Taiwan has flourished and has become a vibrant state that functions with many of the trappings of sovereignty without the actual designation.

As for the People’s Republic of China, it need not impose its political will on private firms.

Uh, Mr. President, it’s Taiwan that’s the ‘Republic of China’

Donald J. Trump’s White House staff apparently has a lot to learn about geopolitics.

He left the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany and then issued some sort of statement that referred to the People’s Republic of China as the “Republic of China.”

To quote Energy Secretary Rick Perry: Oops!

I hate to be a stickler for details, but the Republic of China is the official name of Taiwan, the island nation that broke away from the People’s Republic of China in 1949 after a bloody civil war mounted against the ROC government by the communists led by Mao Tse-Tung.

Here’s the deal, Mr. President. The ROC isn’t recognized by the United States. We broke off relations with Taiwan in 1978 when we formally recognized the communist government in Beijing. We have this thing called a “One-China Policy” that prevents us from recognizing both nations.

I’m no expert on China-Taiwan relations, although I’ve had the honor of visiting Taiwan five times over many years. I’ve gotten the Taiwanese side of the story as it has evolved since the founding of its government.

The PRC is one government; the ROC is another. The president’s statement stepped mightily on the toes of both nations. The one that likely smarts the most is Taiwan, which struggles to maintain its place among the worldwide family of nations. Hey, it’s a vibrant, bustling country that has established its own identity during the past 67 years.

You might recall that shortly after being inaugurated, Trump took a phone call from Taiwan’s president, engaging in the first head of state conversation with that nation since we ended diplomatic relations. It was a no-no. The president later affirmed that the United States remains committed to its One-China Policy and that we won’t extend diplomatic relations to Taiwan.

To his credit, Trump sought to make nice with the PRC’s president, Xi Jinping, by referring to the trade relations between the United States and the PRC.

However, the White House communications staffer who blundered with the erroneous statement and then put Donald Trump’s name on it needs a rudimentary lesson in Far East geopolitics.

Has the dictator gone MAD?

Kim Jong Un certainly must know why they called it “mutually assured destruction” back during the Cold War.

Surely he understands that MAD means what it assures, that anyone who launches a nuclear missile at a nuclear power is going to get wiped off the face of the planet.

The MAD policy prevented a nuclear holocaust when the world comprised just two superpowers. U.S. presidents and Soviet dictators knew the consequences of such foolishness.

But … here we are. The North Korean dictator/fruitcake/goofball keeps making some, oh, so very provocative statements about how he would respond to U.S. attempts to prevent him from developing a nuclear-strike capability.

Kim Jong Un said he would launch a missile at the USS Carl Vinson carrier battle group that is steaming (finally!) toward the Korean Peninsula. He keeps arguing that his nukes are for “defensive purposes only,” meant to deter some perceived aggression from South Korea.

It’s all just so much MADness coming out of the mouth of the son and grandson of two prior North Korean dictators.

This brings me to my point. All the bluster and bravado that pours out of Kim Jong Un’s pie hole cannot actually mean he would he do what he says he would do. Or can it?

Military rivalries are nothing to trifle with. I recall vividly a statement I received from a Taiwanese government official with whom I was discussing the tense standoff that exists between Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China.

The PRC has long threatened to use military force to “take back” the island nation formed in 1949 at the end of a bloody civil war on the Chinese mainland. Would the PRC actually risk nuclear confrontation with the United States, which has a mutual defense treaty with Taiwan?

The Taiwanese official said his government takes any threat from China “very seriously” and was prepared to respond accordingly.

So should the United States be prepared to respond to the rantings of the North Korean MADman.

They call it “MAD” for a damn good reason, Mr. Dictator.

Taiwan declares Fido and Tabby off limits

Taiwan is a sophisticated, technically advanced country I’ve had the pleasure of visiting five times dating back to 1989.

Its citizens, until just recently, have exhibited some, um, fascinating culinary tastes.

But good news has come from the island nation. Taiwan has become the first Asian nation to ban the consumption of — gulp! — dog and cat meat.

As United Press International reports: An amendment to an animal protection law, passed Tuesday by the Legislative Yuan, indicates a changing attitude in Taiwan from “a society in which dog meat was regularly consumed, to one in which many people treat pet cats and dogs as valued members of their families,” the state-run Central News Agency reported.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen was photographed during her campaign for office holding her pet cats, which well could have provided the impetus for approval of this new law.

OK. There you have it.

This new law gives me hope that dogs and cats newfound status as pets will spread to other nations in Asia.

I’ll now share with you an episode dating back to the spring of 1969. I had just arrived in Vietnam to serve a tour of duty in the U.S. Army. I ventured into downtown Da Nang, where I found an outdoor market next to the harbor.

What do you suppose I witnessed? I watched Vietnamese women inspecting caged puppies, probing them for their — um — plumpness.

That sight sickened me. I knew better, though, than to object. I understood the culture into which I had been thrust as a very young man.

Will the Taiwanese ban find its way to Vietnam — or other nations throughout Asia — where such meat remains a delicacy?

Here’s hoping for the best.

As for Taiwan’s ban, let’s also hope that the enactment of a law will be followed up with stiff punishments for those who violate it.

One-China Policy is OK, right, Mr. President?

Donald J. Trump now is ready to adhere to one of the more complicated elements of U.S. foreign relationships.

It’s called the One-China Policy, which recognizes only one China … and it’s not Taiwan.

Not long after being elected president, Trump took a phone call from Taiwan’s president and then declared the United States ought to rethink its decades-old policy that recognizes the People’s Republic of China.

Bad idea, you know? The conversation between a U.S. president-elect and the leader of Taiwan was the first that had occurred since the United States recognized the PRC as the “real” China.

Taiwan, China maintain complicated relationship

Taiwan is, in fact, a prosperous independent nation that broke away from the Chinese mainland at the end of a bloody civil war that erupted after World War II. Taiwan’s Nationalist government set up shop on Taiwan in 1949 and for three decades it was the recognized government of China.

That all changed dramatically in 1979 when the United States recognized the PRC, kicked out the Taiwanese ambassador. The United Nations booted Taiwan out, too, and welcomed the PRC.

Thus, the One-China Policy was born amid an interesting mix of economic and defense-related agreements that the United States still maintains with Taiwan. We trade with the Taiwanese, we pledge to protect them if the PRC decides to retake the island nation — but we do not recognize them diplomatically.

Trump spoke this week to Xi Jinping, the Chinese president, and reaffirmed out commitment to the policy that recognizes the PRC exclusively as the sole China.

As for Taiwan’s relationship with the PRC, that too, is a matter of delicate maneuvering. Taipei and Beijing allow travel between the countries; family members are allowed to communicate with each other.

Taiwan also believes in a “One China Policy,” but insists that the island nation — not the mainland — is the “real China.” Here’s the deal: Most of Taiwan’s inhabitants were born on the island and consider themselves to be “Taiwanese.”

The president, though, needs to settle down and stick with a policy that recognizes only one China. To do anything different is to insert the United States directly into the middle of a simmering dispute between China and Taiwan.

Yes, we need a ‘One China Policy,’ Mr. President-elect


Donald J. “Smart Person” Trump keeps stepping in it.

The president-elect told Fox News Sunday that he doesn’t feel obligated to follow what’s known around the world as a “One China Policy.”

It’s a simple concept.

The People’s Republic of China says there is only “one China.” Taiwan, which calls itself the Republic of China on Taiwan, also says there is just a single China.

Neither country recognizes the other diplomatically. Taipei has no PRC embassy, Beijing has no Taiwanese embassy. Almost the entire rest of the world recognizes the PRC as the sole China. The United States of America has recognized the PRC since 1979, at which time it ended relations with Taiwan.

Now we have the president-elect of the  United States saying he isn’t bound to follow a One China Policy. Trump told Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday: “I don’t know why we have to be bound by a One China policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things,” he said. This is ridiculous on its face.

The communists who now govern the PRC took the country by brute force in a civil war that erupted after World War II. The nationalist Kuomintang party, which governed China under the rule of Chiang Kai-shek, fled to Taiwan in 1949 and set up a government in exile.

China declared Taiwan to be a “renegade province” and vowed to take it back, by force if necessary. The world for decades didn’t recognize the PRC as the legitimate Chinese government; it gave that recognition to Taiwan.

President Nixon changed all of that by going to China in 1972, shaking hands with Mao Tse-Tung and giving birth to a new bilateral relationship. President Carter sealed the deal in 1979 by offering diplomatic status to the PRC.

“Smart Person” Trump, though, decided to roil the waters by speaking over the phone with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, who had called to congratulate him for being elected president. The PRC is damn angry! They have expressed “serious concern” over that breach of protocol.

Meanwhile, some Republican hardliners at home are cheering the president-elect for this outreach.

There is a crystal-clear reason why Taiwan doesn’t just declare its independence from the PRC and, thus, set up a de facto second China. Some officials expressed it to me during my first visit in 1989 to the island nation. “We take these threats” of military retaliation by the PRC if Taiwan declares its independence “very seriously,” they said.

And they should. The PRC possesses a gigantic military apparatus — in addition to its enormous economic impact around the world.

Taiwan functions as an independent nation. It has trade relations with many countries around the world. The United States is sworn to defend Taiwan in the event of an attack by the PRC. It does not belong, though, to the United Nations or to the World Health Organization. It has been shut out of virtually all worldwide cooperative agreements.

If there ever is to be anything other than a One China Policy enacted, that has to come from Beijing and Taipei. Those two nations have to reach an agreement of some sort that recognizes that Taiwan never will be assimilated back into the mainland.

Will that happen? Taiwanese officials believe to this day that their future remains on the mainland. They are intent on waiting for the communist system to fail in Beijing, just as it failed in Moscow. That might be a pipe dream, but it is their dream.

The president of the United States needs to butt out.

A smart person knows at least that much.

Cool it with the Twitter account, Mr. President-elect


I know that Donald J. Trump wouldn’t ever heed this bit of advice from little ol’ me, mainly because he likely won’t see what I’m about to say … but I’ll offer it anyway.

Cease and desist with the constant tweeting, Mr. President-elect. You’re the Big Man now and you ought to pick your battles with a lot more care and caution.

A story in the Washington Post illustrates just how much damage this fellow — Trump — can do to someone who objects to some of his policy pronouncements.

The story talks about how, when he was running for president, Trump responded to a woman who challenged whether he was fair to women. Trump tweeted that the woman was a “plant” and called her an “arrogant young woman.”

Good grief, man! She was a citizen, a potential constituent making a comment about things he had said.

Here’s the story:


Since his election, Trump has used his Twitter account with amazing result.

He told the world about how he talked with the president of Taiwan — a nation with which we have no diplomatic ties — roiling relations with the People’s Republic of China and causing potentially devastating friction between the two great nation; he called for cancellation of an order for a new Air Force One jetliner to be developed by Boeing, causing the aircraft manufacturer’s stock value to plunge; he called a union leader a “liar” after the leader challenged Trump’s assertion that he had saved more than 1,000 jobs in Indiana.

Trump, of course, defends his use of this particular social medium, saying it’s the way people communicate these days.

Uh, Mr. President-elect, you ain’t like the rest of us. You are about to possess immense power to influence global events. You are going to be the Top Dog, the Big Magilla, the Main Man. You’ll inherit a Twitter account set up for the president of the United States.

How about using it wisely? Use it with discretion. Be circumspect and careful. How about traveling along the high road at all times?

The new president ought to leave the incessant tweeting and other cheap social media banter … to shlubs like me.

No equivalency between phone call and comments about Castro


Mike Pence knows better than to attach a false equivalency to two events.

One of them involved comments from U.S. officials about the death of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro; the other involved a phone call from the leader of a nation — with which the United States has no diplomatic relations — to the president-elect.

The vice president-elect said this morning he cannot understand why the phone call is getting all the criticism while praise to Castro is overlooked.

Please, Mr. Vice President-elect.

Donald Trump’s 10-minute conversation this past week with the president of Taiwan has smacked decades of U.S. diplomatic protocol right in the face. The People’s Republic of China has filed a formal complaint, declaring that the “one-China policy” that the United States has followed has been compromised egregiously by Trump’s congratulatory phone call from Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen.

Meanwhile, according to Pence, the death of Castro has drawn some muted praise of the late Cuban dictator from Obama administration officials. Even the president himself has delivered remarks that some have interpreted as complimentary.

The Taiwan-China dustup, though, is far more serious.

Taiwan’s very creation came at the end of a bloody civil war in China that the communists won. The nationalists who once governed China fled to Taiwan in 1949 to set up a new government. The United States recognized the Taiwan version of China until 1979, when it declared it would recognize the PRC.

You want a complicated relationship? There you have it.

What if China decides to retaliate against the United States by launching, say, a trade war? What if the PRC decides to yank its ambassador out of Washington? What if the PRC goads Taiwan into declaring its independence from China, giving the Chinese a pretext to launch a military attack against the nation it considers to be a “renegade province”?

There can be no equivalence attached to saying some mildly nice things about a dictator and the serious breach of protocol that the president-elect has committed.