Tag Archives: Taiwan

Pelosi riles PRC needlessly

Nancy Pelosi generally has my support in her role as speaker of the House of Representatives and the person who is third in line to the presidency.

However, the California Democrat has stepped in some serious diplomatic dookey by visiting Taiwan during her multi-stop tour of Asia.

Why did the speaker choose to rile the People’s Republic of China by becoming the first speaker to visit Taiwan in a quarter-century? To what end? For what purpose?

Pelosi knows about the “one-China policy” this country has followed since it bestowed diplomatic relations on the PRC back in the late 1970s. When it did that, the United States cut off Taiwan, which prior to that period had been recognized as “China” by this country.

The PRC calls Taiwan a “renegade province” that it intends to return to the fold … one way or another.

I have been to Taiwan five times dating back to 1989. I am going to tell you that it is a vibrant, robust, militarily stout nation. However, it occupies arguably the most complicated diplomatic place on Earth. It has little diplomatic link with the rest of the world, which also operates under the one-China policy.

So, for Speaker Pelosi to in effect bestow some sort of blessing on Taiwan and anger the PRC in the process doesn’t make much sense.

The White House opposed her stopping in Taiwan. However, in our government system, the White House can object all it wants; there’s nothing it can do to stop the leader of a co-equal government branch from visiting the nation if she desires.

From where I sit, Pelosi could have accomplished what she intended to do — which was to affirm our nation’s economic and military support — over the telephone in a private conversation.

Instead, she chose to make a spectacle of herself and likely angered the president of the United States.


Worried about Taiwan

While the world recoils in horror at what is transpiring in Ukraine and wondering whether China is taking notes on what lies ahead for another potential conflict, I want to offer a brief word of worry about a possible target of Chinese aggression.

It sits off the China coast. Taiwan has been a thriving nation of its own since 1949, when Chiang kai-Shek’s government set up shop in Taipei after losing a bloody civil war with the communists.

China wants Taiwan back. It has been threatening to take the island nation back ever since the end of the conflict on the mainland. Whether Russia succeeds in its effort to subdue Ukraine could spell a heap of trouble for China and for Taiwan.

My interest in Taiwan is personal. I have been there five times, starting in 1989. I returned in 1994, in 1999, 2007 and 2010. My first visit came at the end of a grueling three-week tour of Southeast Asia. Taiwan was still under martial law. It lifted the martial law between my first and second visits.

The country is as independent from China these days as it possibly could be … except that it hasn’t declared its independence. It dare not make the declaration, as it would enrage the communists on the mainland to the point of launching an invasion of their own to retake the island.

Taiwan’s population now consists almost entirely of people who were born there. Few Taiwanese have any direct tie to China. The country is a thriving democracy. Taiwan is an economic powerhouse. It also possesses a stout military apparatus that benefits from a defense agreement with the United States.

To be clear, Taiwan has few diplomatic allies, in that the world recognizes only “one China.” That happens to be the one that governs in Beijing. However, the reality is that even though Taiwan once was part of China, it now considers itself to be a separate nation. Yes, it is a curious and complicated matter that cannot be solved easily and cleanly.

I cannot pretend to know how this will play out. President Biden has been talking extensively with Chinese leaders since war broke out in Ukraine. I keep hearing that Biden has persuaded the Chinese to stay out of the Russia-Ukraine fight; that it shouldn’t send arms to Russia. That suits me just fine.

If the Ukrainians somehow can broker an end to the fighting without Russia marching into Kyiv, then there could be some hope that China would have to rethink whatever aspirations it has about taking Taiwan back in a fight to the finish.

Believe this, too: Taiwan will fight like hell for their country just as Ukrainians are fighting for theirs.

It all still brings cause for worry.


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.