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Subject: [Hangout - NYLXS] under reported news on China and Tawian with long
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Trump Administration=92s Third Taiwan Visit Is No Charm for China
Chun Han Wong and Chao Deng
A White House campaign to tighten ties with Taiwan is set to culminate
in an 11th-hour visit to the island by a senior U.S. diplomat this week,
forcing Beijing into a tricky balancing act as it seeks improved ties
with the incoming Biden administration.
China has promised countermeasures against the three-day trip to Taiwan
by Kelly Craft, the U.S. envoy to the United Nations, though it wasn=92t
clear what steps Beijing might take.
Ms. Craft, who is due to arrive Wednesday in Taipei, will be the third
senior Trump administration official to visit self-ruled Taiwan in the
past year. Her trip begins days after U.S. Secretary of State Mike
Pompeo needled China by nullifying government restrictions on how U.S.
executive-branch officials can interact with Taiwan.
A spokeswoman for Beijing=92s Taiwan Affairs Office said China would
=93undertake firm and forceful measures to counter any U.S.-Taiwan
collusion,=94 state media reported.
More on U.S.-China Tensions
Beijing claims Taiwan as its territory and has vowed to assimilate the
island, by force if necessary. Chinese officials say they consider
Taiwan the most sensitive issue in their relations with the U.S., and
have condemned Washington=92s dealings with Taipei as provocative. Those
denunciations have grown more frequent over the past year as the Trump
administration arranged big-ticket arms sales and high-level visits to
China=92s response to the latest U.S. moves has primarily targeted Mr.
Pompeo=97a sign, analysts say, that Beijing is reluctant to inflame
relations with President-elect Joe Biden, whom Chinese officials have
called on to ease bilateral tensions. In a Sunday commentary, Chinese
state broadcaster CGTN described Mr. Pompeo=92s gesture as =93a cowardly act
of sabotage=94 that =93kneecaps the incoming Democratic administration from
A Chinese military turboprop entered Taiwan=92s southwestern air-defense
identification zone on Monday, the third such sortie after Ms. Craft=92s
trip was announced last week and the 12th since the start of the year,
according to the island=92s Defense Ministry, though such flights have
become routine in recent months.
=93I think Beijing has been responding mostly with rhetoric because it
knows there=92s not much time in the Trump administration,=94 says Wu Xinbo,
director of Fudan University=92s Center for American Studies in Shanghai.
A personal, guided tour to the best scoops and stories every day in The
Wall Street Journal.
The Trump administration has drawn the U.S. closer to Taiwan while
battling Beijing on a range of issues including trade, technology and
global influence. Last year, Washington sent two senior officials to
meet with President Tsai Ing-wen in Taipei, which included the
highest-level U.S. visit to the island since Washington cut formal ties
with the island in 1979.
The announcements of Ms. Craft=92s visit and the lifting of State
Department restrictions on interactions with Taiwan surprised many U.S.
foreign-policy specialists. The written restrictions, which aren=92t
public, limited the circumstances under which U.S. and Taiwanese
officials could interact so as to avoid drawing ire from China.
The lifting of restrictions didn=92t signal a fundamental change in U.S.
policy on Taiwan, according to a State Department spokesperson.
=93The United States has long maintained that cross-Strait differences are
matters to be resolved peacefully, without the threat or use of force or
coercion, and should be acceptable to the people on both sides of the
Taiwan Strait,=94 the spokesperson said.
Taiwan is self-ruled, but Beijing claims it as its territory and has
vowed to assimilate the island.
Photo: ritchie b tongo/Shutterstock
While some policy analysts decried the moves as a last-ditch effort to
box in the Biden administration, others said the president-elect could
benefit from it.
With Beijing pinning blame for Washington=92s recent gestures on Mr.
Pompeo, the Biden administration and Taipei stand to gain a freer hand
to develop two-way relations, said Gerrit van der Wees, a former Dutch
diplomat who teaches Taiwan history at George Mason University. =93The
Biden administration can start with a new slate.=94
Officials advising Mr. Biden have said that the president-elect will
continue working to ensure strong U.S. support for Taiwan, in accordance
with a U.S. law that commits Washington to ensure that the island is
capable of defending itself.
=93I don=92t think he has to do anything immediately,=94 said Robert G.
Sutter, an international affairs professor at George Washington
University. =93It=92s fairly easy to lower the temperature without changing
Taiwan=92s de facto envoy to Washington, Bi-khim Hsiao, spoke to Antony
Blinken, Mr. Biden=92s nominee for Secretary of State, in November.
Afterward she wrote on Twitter that Taiwan hopes for continued close
cooperation with the U.S. in the coming years.
Should Mr. Biden build on the Trump administration=92s Taiwan policy with
bolder measures of his own, =93That will be Beijing=92s nightmare,=94 said =
Wu, the Fudan professor. In that case, he said, =94I think Beijing will
decide to take strong and substantive actions to force the U.S. to roll
Ms. Craft will deliver a speech on Taiwan=92s participation in
international affairs and hold a joint news briefing with Taiwan=92s
foreign minister on Thursday, according to U.S. officials. Both sides
have otherwise kept quiet about the rest of her itinerary.
Taiwanese officials and foreign policy experts say Ms. Craft=92s visit
carries symbolic meaning regardless of whether it yields concrete policy
outcomes. When Ms. Craft met with her Taiwanese counterpart in New York
last year, it was at a restaurant, and therefore =93did not possess the
immanence of state-to-state affairs,=94 said John Tkacik, a former U.S.
diplomat who has served in Taiwan and mainland China.
The easing of self-imposed U.S. restrictions on interacting with Taiwan
paves the way for more symbolic changes.
The U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands on Monday tweeted photos of
himself hosting Taiwan=92s representative in the country at the American
embassy in The Hague. =93Made some history today,=94 he wrote.
Curbs on U.S.-Taiwan engagement have prevented Taiwan from flying its
national flag outside its representative office in Washington, sending
its defense minister to Washington or inviting U.S. officials to visit
Taiwan, according to Wang Ting-yu, co-chair of the Taiwanese
legislature=92s foreign affairs and defense committee. In recent decades,
Washington has typically only allowed Taiwan=92s president to enter U.S.
territory for short visits, while in transit to or from another country.
The rolling back of such restrictions is the culmination of years of
effort between the two sides, Mr. Wang said. =93I don=92t think Biden will
deny this kind of decision.=94
Write to Chun Han Wong at chunhan.wong-at-wsj.com and Chao Deng at
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