Watching President Joe Biden’s stunningly clumsy performance in Tokyo last week, during which he committed the U.S. to defending Taiwan militarily, my mind went to the old adage, “All politics is local.” I am sure it is, but we are called upon to extend the thought: “All foreign policy is local” is our late-imperial reality. The rest of the world is mere proscenium for our purported leaders, to put this point another way. No one with a hand in American foreign policy, so far as I can make out, is the slightest bit interested in the one thing, above all others, that the 21st century requires of competent statecraft. This is the desire and ability to understand the perspectives of others. Have you ever heard anyone in the Washington policy cliques state, or even wonder, what China’s legitimate interests are in East Asia, first of all on the question of sovereignty over Taiwan? I haven’t either.
On Monday, May 23, President Joe Biden stated that he would defend Taiwan militarily if the People’s Republic of China were to “invade”. These comments were made during a joint news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo. At the news conference, a reporter asked Biden, “You didn’t want to get involved in the Ukraine conflict militarily for obvious reasons. Are you willing to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan if it comes to that?” Biden replied “Yes,” adding “that’s the commitment we made.” This statement deviates from the US’s historic policy regarding China and Taiwan. The US props up Taiwan both militarily and diplomatically. Officially, however, the United States recognizes the “One China Policy”, acknowledging the People’s Republic of China’s claim that Taiwan is part of China, but not endorsing this claim.
Vladimir Putin and other Russian leaders now more than ever have reason to feel encircled with Sweden and Finland moving to join NATO this week. Moscow’s persistent fear of Western military encroachment on Russian borders now stands as a stark reality in the wake of the war in Ukraine, a seismic development in European security all the more remarkable when taking a long look back at NATO expansion. Analysts and policymakers intensely debated the future of NATO in the early 1990s, when the collapse of the Soviet Union left Russia with a hobbled military that was in disarray. Countries close to Russia cried for protection from a future threat they were sure would emerge once Moscow reordered itself.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been widely described as the beginning of a new cold war, much like the old one in both its cast of characters and ideological nature. “In the contest between democracy and autocracy, between sovereignty and subjugation, make no mistake — freedom will prevail,” President Biden asserted in a televised address to the nation the day Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine. But while Russia and the West disagree on many issues of principle, this is not a replay of the Cold War. It’s an all-too-geopolitical twenty-first-century struggle for advantage on a highly contested global chessboard. If comparisons are in order, think of this moment as more akin to the situation Europe confronted prior to World War I than in the aftermath of World War II.
China and Nicaragua have resumed diplomatic relations in what Nicaragua’s Presidential Advisor Laureano Ortega Murillo called “a historic date.” The Government of the Republic of Nicaragua announced it had broken diplomatic relations with Taiwan, ceasing to have any contact or official relationship, in a statement by Foreign Minister Denis Moncada before Nicaraguan diplomats and press, on Thursday and effective immediately. Kawsachun News attended the meeting virtually. Foreign Minister Moncada stated: “The Government of the Republic of Nicaragua declares that it recognizes that in the world there is only one single China. The People’s Republic of China is the only legitimate government that represents all of China and Taiwan is an inalienable part of the Chinese territory.”
On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that US troops have been stationed in Taiwan, which China considers part of its territory, for over one year. The Journal’s revelations, which Chinese officials saw as a semi-official announcement by the US government, came amid the most dangerous standoff between the US and China since the 1958 Taiwan Strait Crisis. The US Navy has been carrying out major war games near Taiwan, following the announcement of the alliance between Australia, the UK and the US (AUKUS), which includes providing Australia with nuclear-powered submarines. These developments followed the revelation in March that the United States is in active discussions to station offensive missiles on the “first island chain” off the Chinese mainland, including Okinawa and Taiwan.
“China has…I’ve spoken with Xi about Taiwan. We agree, we will abide by the Taiwan agreement,” Biden said outside the White House on Tuesday evening, when asked about the recent flight of several dozen Chinese aircraft into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone. “That’s where we are and I made it clear that I don’t think he should be doing anything other than abiding by the agreement,” he added. It’s unclear to which agreement Biden is referring, as there is no such pact called the “Taiwan Agreement.” There are a few possibilities, however, although none of them make Biden’s statement make any more sense. During a phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping on September 10, Biden said he had no intention of changing the US’ “One-China Policy.” That policy, a foundation for every nation’s bilateral relationship with Beijing, holds to the principle that the PRC is the legitimate representative of the Chinese people and not the Republic of China (ROC), the formal name of the government in Taipei.
Beijing flexes its muscles in the wake of America’s humiliating exit from Afghanistan, with a hard-hitting Global Times editorial warning Taipei that, when it comes to the crunch, it will also be abandoned by Washington. With Washington in a state of panic and disarray following the outcome in Afghanistan, China has moved fast to exploit what it perceives as America's humiliation in order to reassert its position on Taiwan. On Monday night, the Global Times unleashed a scathing editorial, taunting Taipei that it would collapse swiftly, just like the Kabul regime, in the wake of an invasion by Chinese forces, and questioning Washington's resolve to save it in such a scenario. The next day, Beijing followed up with a massive air force and navy exercise off the island.
When the United States finalized a set of seven arms sales packages to Taiwan in August, including 66 upgraded F-16 fighter planes and longer-range air-to-ground missiles that could hit sensitive targets on mainland China, it shifted U.S. policy sharply toward a much more aggressive stance on the geo-strategic island at the heart of military tensions between the United States and China. Branded “Fortress Taiwan” by the Pentagon, the ambitious arms deal was the engineered by Randall Schriver, a veteran pro-Taiwan activist and anti-China hardliner whose think tank had been financed by America’s biggest arms contractors and by the Taiwan government itself.
Over the past two years, the United States has dramatically increased the number of U.S. Navy aircraft carriers and destroyers sent into the South China Sea as a freedom of navigation show of force missions to remind the Chinese government that the U.S. considers the Western Pacific and the South China Sea as a part of the oceans of America and its allies. Additionally, in 2020, the Trump administration ratcheted up tensions with China over Taiwan by sending to Taiwan the highest-ranking U.S. officials in over forty years.
The Taiwanese government has claimed that it provided early warning to the World Health Organization (WHO) at the end of December about the novel coronavirus and the risk of human-to-human transmission but was ignored due to pressure from China. This claim has been paraded by Taiwanese authorities and the Donald Trump administration in order to slam the WHO as beholden to Chinese interests and advance the cause of Taiwanese separatism, pushing for Taiwan to be granted membership to the WHO independent of China. However, there is no evidence any such warning was ever issued by Taiwan to the WHO. The confidential communications which were first leaked by Taiwanese authorities, and then confirmed by the WHO, make it clear that Taiwan did not provide any alert or insight with regard to the novel coronavirus. The dishonest claims by Taipei and Washington have been advanced as part of broader, cynical efforts to deflect blame onto the WHO and Chinese government for the coronavirus outbreak.
Perhaps the greatest success story is New Zealand, which has stopped local transmission and has a plan to completely eliminate the virus from its territory. "The lesson is that it can be done," says Siouxsie Wiles, an associate professor of microbiology in New Zealand. "Obviously, the longer you leave it, and the more cases there are, the harder it becomes. But that doesn't mean that we shouldn't try." Wiles heads up the Bioluminescent Superbugs Lab at the University of Auckland. Much of her work focuses on antibiotic resistance and infectious diseases. When the coronavirus hit, she got involved in communication efforts in New Zealand to help explain the virus, including by using a popular cartoon. But it wasn't just scientists who led the charge. Wiles — and many other New Zealanders — give much of the credit for their country's success to the swift and decisive leadership of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in March.
Flight attendants at EVA Air have concluded the largest and longest strike in the history of Taiwan’s airline industry, from June 20 through July 10. Strikers notched a partial victory against a notoriously anti-union company. Now they will have to consolidate their gains and fend off repression. The strikers were all women—EVA does not hire male flight attendants, though it announced in the middle of the strike that it plans to. According to the Taoyuan Flight Attendants Union (TFAU), 2,949 of the airline’s 4,600 cabin crew members participated. Flight attendants set up a giant tent and rallied for 17 straight days outside EVA’s headquarters in the working-class city of Taoyuan, home to Taiwan’s main international airport.
There are obvious reasons why some people in the United States oppose the prospect of single-payer health care. Taking the profit out of health care -- a moral imperative and the norm internationally -- poses a major threat to the pharmaceutical industry, insurance companies and others. These interests spend millions donatingto and lobbying powerful politicians in both parties. The goal is to do what corporations are designed to do: maximize profit regardless of its impact on outside stakeholders and the public at large. Capitulating to the donor class is never a good look for politicians, so lobbying and campaign finance are virtually never the stated reasons for opposition to a better health care system. The actual reasons for opposition are often quite separate from the explanations offered to the public.
By Staff of Idle No More - Idle No More stands in solidarity with Indigenous Taiwanese who are currently occupying the 228 Peace Memorial Park/台北市二二八和平紀念公園. This current occupation has been for more than 260 days. INM calls for the Canadian government to impose immediate trade restrictions on Taiwan. Indigenous people have lived in Taiwan for at least 6,000 years. The languages they speak belong to the Austronesian language family. From Taiwan, people speaking Austronesian languages moved into the Pacific, settling islands from the Philippines to Indonesia, all the way from Hawaii and Easter Island to New Zealand and even Madagascar. Since the arrival of the first colonial settlers in Taiwan 400 years ago, tribal land has been shrinking with colonial regimes that include Dutch, Spanish, Japanese, and Han Chinese. Most tribal land is now government-owned, and some become privately-owned, by descendants of Han settlers. President Tsai Ing-wen apologized to the Indigenous peoples (August 1, 2016) and promised to designate indigenous traditional territory. According to a survey completed in 2007 by the Council of Indigenous Peoples (CIP) under the Executive Yuan, indigenous traditional territory was around 1.8 million hectares of land.