Wary China watches as Taiwan inaugurates first woman president

admin   •   May 20, 2016   •   2267

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen waves during an inauguration ceremony in Taipei, Taiwan May 20, 2016. REUTERS/TYRONE SIU

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen waves during an inauguration ceremony in Taipei, Taiwan May 20, 2016.
REUTERS/TYRONE SIU

Tsai Ing-wen was sworn in as Taiwan’s first woman president on Friday, with the export-driven economy on the ropes and wary Communist Party rulers in China watching for any move towards independence by an island it considers its own.

Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won parliamentary and presidential elections by a landslide in January on voter backlash against creeping dependence on China.

The DPP, which has traditionally favoured independence from China, takes over after eight years under China-friendly Nationalist Ma Ying-jeou.

Wearing a cream blazer with dark trousers, Tsai pledged to defend the country and abide by the constitution of the Republic of China, Taiwan’s formal name, as she took the oath of office, which was carried on live TV broadcast.

Tsai’s inauguration speech at 11.10 am (0310 GMT) will be widely watched for any hint of anti-China sentiment, which could sour economic ties further.

“The favourable interaction will be broken,” said Chang An-lo, a pro-unification leader, rallying about 400 supporters outside the DPP headquarters this week.

Taiwan’s main index was up a bit in cautious trade ahead of her speech. It slid to over three month lows last week with foreign investors net selling shares this month so far on political and economic worries.

The trade-reliant economy, which counts China as its biggest trading partner, is struggling to shake off last year’s recession as prolonged weakness in global demand weighs on Asian exporters.

China has not ruled out using force to bring Taiwan under its control. It is deeply distrustful of the DPP, whose charter includes a clause promoting “a sovereign and independent Republic of Taiwan”.

Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists fled to Taiwan after losing the civil war to the Communists in China in 1949. China has pressured the new Taiwan government to stick to the “one-China” principle agreed with the Nationalists.

That allows each side to interpret what “one China” means. The Communists say they rule all of China including Taiwan, while the Nationalists maintain Taipei is the ruler.

Tsai has said she will maintain the status quo, but stops short of referring to “one China”.

During the inauguration ceremony, performers will pay tribute to demonstrations that have been key to the DPP’s rise, including the 2014 Sunflower Movement protests.

The DPP is distrustful of growing economic dependence on China and champions Taiwan’s own history.

Tsai, partly of aboriginal descent, will take the stage in front of the presidential office, a life-size replica of which Taiwan has said has been built in China and used for attack practice.

“We have emphasized … our hope that both sides will continue to show flexibility going forward in the name of maintaining peace and stability,” said Daniel Kritenbrink, senior director for Asian Affairs at the White House’s National Security Council, earlier this week.

The United States switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China in 1979, but is also Taiwan’s biggest ally and arms supplier.

(Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom in WASHINGTON; Editing by Nick Macfie and Michael Perry)

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Taiwan extends COVID-19 Alert Level 3 until June 14

Marje Pelayo   •   May 26, 2021

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Schools as well as public and business venues will remain closed until June 14 amid a fresh surge of COVID-19 cases in the country.

Only essential service providers will be allowed to open, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced Wednesday (May 26).

The directive followed the extension of Alert Level 3 in the country’s COVID Four-Level Alert System as more and more domestic transmission is being reported.

Restaurants and other food businesses are expected to bear the brunt of the new restriction as they are forced to close for more weeks.

On Tuesday (May 25), the CECC recorded a total of 544 cases of COVID-19 infection including two imported cases.

Currently, Taiwan has administered around 311,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines.

In a post on Twitter, President Tsai Ing-Wen said more doses are expected to arrive in the country in the coming days.

Specifically, Taiwan is expecting around two million doses of COVID-19 vaccine next month while an additional 10 million doses are coming in August. MNP (with reports from Amiel Pascual)

Taiwan President calls for int’l support to defend democracy amid threats from China

Marje Pelayo   •   January 7, 2019


Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen. (Photo courtesy: Photoville Taiwan | UNTV News and Rescue)

TAIPEI, Taiwan – President Tsai Ing-wen calls for international support to defend democracy as it faces renewed threats from China particularly it’s “one country, two systems” policy.

“We (Taiwan) are an important and loyal supporter of all internationally important values. So when a country like us faces difficulties and threats, we hope that the international community takes it seriously and can voice support and help us,” she said in a press conference with foreign media including UNTV News in Taipei on Saturday (January 5).

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen during a briefing with foreign media on Saturday (January 5). (Photo courtesy: Office of the President of Taiwan)

Tsai also calls on all parties in Taiwan to rally behind her and fulfill the wishes of the Taiwan people.

She noted that such a threat from China can also happen to any other countries if the international community will just watch and not extend its help to Taiwan.

“When a country that does its best to practice democracy and shared international values face threats and violation, I believe that this is also a violation of democracy and those values. If the international community does not speak out for and support Taiwan while it is facing such a situation, we have to ask which country will be next.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping insists that Taiwan was part of China and offered reunification to its people and pressed the implementation of the “one country, two systems” framework.

Tsai, a pro-independence president, said Taiwan cannot accept such political arrangement with China as it will bring them under Xi’s rule and it will only result to further misunderstandings.

Instead of putting much pressure to Taiwan on territorial matters, Tsai said Xi should pay attention to issues that will affect both countries neighbors such as the outbreak of African Swine Fever.

Taiwan became persistent in its quest for independence since Tsai took office in January 2016. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Amiel Pascual)

China does not want to see trade war with U.S.: Premier Li

UNTV News   •   March 15, 2017

China’s Premier Li Keqiang gestures as he arrives for a news conference after the closing ceremony of China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, March 15, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee

China’s Premier Li Keqiang said on Wednesday that Beijing does not want to see a trade war with the United States and urged talks between both sides to achieve common ground.

“We do not want to see any trade war breaking out between the two countries. That would not make our trade fairer,” Li said at his annual news conference at the end of the annual meeting of China’s parliament.

“Our hope on the Chinese side is that no matter what bumps this relationship hits, we hope it will continue to move forward in a positive direction,” he said.

“We may have different statistical methods, but I believe whatever differences we may have we can all sit down and talk to each other and work together to find solutions,” Li said.

Issues that cannot immediately be solved should be “shelved” for the time being, he added.

U.S. media have reported that U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet in Florida next month.

Trump has attacked China on issues ranging from trade to the South China Sea and what he perceives as China’s lack of interest in reining in nuclear-armed North Korea.

During the election campaign, Trump had threatened to label China a currency manipulator and impose huge tariffs on imports of Chinese goods.

He has not followed through on either move yet, but the U.S. Treasury will issue its semi-annual currency report in April.

China’s trade surplus against the United States was $366 billion in 2015.

Last month, Trump held his first face-to-face talks with a member of the Chinese leadership, top diplomat Yang Jiechi, who outranks Foreign Minister Wang Yi. The White House said it was a chance to discuss shared security interests and a possible meeting with President Xi.

Li also reiterated in his remarks that China-U.S. relations are founded upon adherence to the “one China” policy, under which Washington acknowledges the Chinese position that there is only one China, of which Taiwan is a part.

The “one China” policy “has remained unshaken despite changing circumstances,” he said, adding “this foundation cannot be undermined.”

Trump incensed Beijing in December by talking to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and saying the United States did not have to stick to the policy, vaguely suggesting that he may abandon the policy as part of negotiations for a better trade deal with China.

Trump later agreed in a phone call with Xi to honor the “one China” policy in a diplomatic boost for Beijing, which vehemently opposes criticism of its claim to self-ruled, proudly democratic Taiwan.

Li also said China did not seek a sustained trade surplus with the European Union, and that the imbalance “would clearly improve” if Europe exported more high-tech products to China.

The United States and the EU have long maintained export controls as security measures against China on a range of products with both military and civilian uses.

China wants access to high-tech components to move its manufacturing industries higher up the value chain, but the foreign business community has often voiced concern about weak protection of intellectual property rights and forced technology transfers in exchange for market access.

(Reporting by Ryan Woo, Kevin Yao and Michael Martina; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Richard Borsuk and Kim Coghill)

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