News / Asia

    Taiwan VP US Trip Tests Diplomatic Truce

    Taiwan's Vice President Wu Den-yih speaking at Taiwan's Taoyuan International Airport before departing to New York.              Taiwan's Vice President Wu Den-yih speaking at Taiwan's Taoyuan International Airport before departing to New York.
    x
    Taiwan's Vice President Wu Den-yih speaking at Taiwan's Taoyuan International Airport before departing to New York.
    Taiwan's Vice President Wu Den-yih speaking at Taiwan's Taoyuan International Airport before departing to New York.
    Ralph Jennings
    TAIPEI — Taiwan’s vice president is spending an unusually long four days in the United States this month, a move that would once have drawn formal protests from China. Vice President Wu Den-yih stopped in New York for private meetings on his way to visit allied nations in Latin America, and will stay in Los Angeles on the way home. Taiwan’s diplomatic truce with China helps smooth passages to North America while keeping a three-way peace.

    Shortly after taking office in 2008, Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou declared a diplomatic truce with China.

    The one-sided statement ended the checkbook diplomacy of Taiwan’s past, when it and archrival China would pay off each other’s cash-strapped foreign allies to switch allegiance as the two sides vied for international legitimacy. As Taiwan’s count sank to just 23 allies and increasingly powerful China netted around 170, leaders in Taipei changed course.

    Bruce Linghu, the Taiwan Foreign Ministry’s director general in charge of North American affairs, says the truce has allowed Taiwan to retain its formal allies, get closer to high-level U.S. officials and win visa waivers from 54 countries.

    He says the diplomatic truce and its achievements are quite broad. Specifically, he says, ties with formal allies are airtight, while Taiwan’s participation in international events has progressed despite a need for more effort. He adds that relations with major countries such as the United States, Japan and European Union members have made it easier for common Taiwanese people to travel abroad without visas.

    China has claimed sovereignty over Taiwan since the Chinese civil war of the 1940s. Taiwan, self-ruled ever since then, sees its relations abroad as proof of the island’s autonomy. But with few formal allies, it has focused, since 2008, more on informal cultural and economic ties with major countries, remaining mindful not to challenge Beijing’s formal diplomatic relations.

    China has never publicly recognized the diplomatic truce, which has held unchanged since 2008. But analysts say Beijing respects the ceasefire in private and fears that it may be called off if President Ma’s party loses a presidential election.

    For now, Beijing has dropped its once strong protests against the United States that would accompany U.S. stopovers by high-level Taiwanese officials. China wants friendly ties with Taiwan as a step toward its goal of political reunification.

    Nathan Liu, international affairs professor at Ming Chuan University in Taiwan, says the signing of a thorny, long delayed investment protection deal at talks earlier this month shows that China is willing to keep relations intact with Taiwan.

    "Basically I think the PRC [People's Republic of China] still has some confidence in Ma Ying-jeou’s administration," he said. "Before these talks, a lot of scholars or commentators talked about this PRC unwillingness to do anything for Ma Ying-jeou or [that it] refused to play along. But from the talks, or the results, we can see that basically the PRC is willing to play along with Ma Ying-jeou’s administration."

    In 2010, President Ma transited in the United States on his way to visit Latin American allies that cannot be reached by direct flight from Taiwan. China did not complain to the United States.

    But when former Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian transited in New York in 2001, Beijing lodged a protest with the United States as then-president George W. Bush was trying for closer relations with the rising economic power.

    Chen, for his part, enraged Beijing and eventually irritated Washington with his pursuit of Taiwan’s formal independence from China. In 2006, he was asked to stop over in Alaska rather than a major continental U.S. city and nearly called off his trip in protest.

    His U.S. stopovers were brief compared to Vice President Wu’s.

    Ming Chuan University’s Nathan Liu says Ma’s second-in-command is being treated well by the United States.

    "If we compare this with the Chen Shui-bian administration, then I don’t think Annette Lu, vice president of Chen’s administration, or Chen Shui-bian himself would have been treated this way, because in the second half of the Bush administration, President Bush was pretty suspicious of Chen’s actions. So I think this would be a good sign for the Ma Ying-jeou Administration," he said.

    The de facto U.S. embassy in Taipei says the vice president’s stopovers this month are unrelated to Taiwan’s truce with China. It calls permission to land on U.S. soil a matter of comfort and convenience for Taiwanese officials bound for Latin America. Taiwanese officials still may be asked to avoid public events in the United States.

    However, U.S. officials have signaled strong support for President Ma’s broader efforts to get along with China. In addition to sticking to its diplomatic truce, Ma’s government holds regular, upbeat meetings with Communist officials, and the two sides have signed 18 trade and economic deals. Tensions were too icy under Chen, from 2000 to 2008, for such dialogue. One clear sign of Washington’s support is a boost in visits from cabinet-level officials in Washington.

    U.S. officials encourage stronger China-Taiwan ties so they can freely seek closer economic relations with Beijing while staying on the good side of Taiwan, which it is obligated by law to help defend against any outside attack.

    You May Like

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    Video Iraqis Primed to March on Mosul, Foreign Minister Says

    Iraqi FM Ibrahim al-Jaafari tells VOA the campaign will meet optimistic expectations, even though US officials remain cautious

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Rafasa from: Tashi
    September 02, 2012 5:03 AM
    The KMT government may act friendly to both China and America on the outside, but inside, it is like poisonous snake that secretly hates both.

    Besides, not ALL Taiwanese consider themselves apart from China; I know many who proudly call themselves Chinese and who strongly support war with Japan and others. If many Taiwanese swept by this Han nationalism over the disputes with japan and philippines, it could divide the population dangerously and might draw Taiwan into a very difficult situation.

    by: Mark from: Ann Arbor, USA
    August 16, 2012 1:44 AM
    Again, more of the "Chen promoted independence, only the KMT should be in power" propaganda. Look, give evidence that Chen was pushing independence, dont just repeat this mantra. The CCP and KMT agree on one thing, they want control over Taiwan and generally resent there cannot be one party in total control. The DPP and Chen have not been perfect, but you play into the "taiwan must be annexed by china" playbook everytime you repeat "Chen was just irritating everybody by forcing independence".

    Give evidence of what he said.... oh guess what, you won't be able to. He just spoke frankly, such as Taiwan needs not declare independence because IT ALREADY IS and left it at that. China hated him because he wouldn't say Taiwan must be part of some looney-tunes formula that somehow its part of China but there is a difference of some bizarre nature. He challenged the flag of Taiwan because for Christ's sake, it's the flag of the KMT. The anthem of Taiwan sings praises to the holy KMT! for christ's sake, he was speaking the truth, which is different than being a reckless, independence pusher. You can't declare independence if you already are independent.....
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    August 16, 2012 8:21 PM
    You do have points. However, everything Taiwan have (good or bad) does give its people the ability to vote and speak its own mind. So the way I look at it is the flag is Taiwan.

    by: greg from: taiwan
    August 15, 2012 11:30 PM
    The US is not obligated to help defend Taiwan---only make available
    weapons of a defensive nature for the Taiwanese to purchase. I can't imagine America supporting a war with China over Taiwan--- especially when the history of the situation is better understood by the American people.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora