0416: New Contact Guidelines with Taiwan, U.S. Delegation to Taiwan

Largest Chinese Encroachment of Taiwan’s ADIZ Following the U.S.’ New Contact Guidelines with Taiwan and Warning of China’s Aggression

Following the U.S. State Department’s issue of new contact guidelines with Taiwan and Secretary Blinken’s warning of Chinese aggressive actions against Taiwan, China sent 25 military aircraft into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on April 12, the most on any single day this year.

In a press release on April 9, the U.S. Department of State said that “following a review as set forth in the Taiwan Assurance Act,” it had issued “new guidelines for U.S. government interaction with Taiwan counterparts to encourage U.S. government engagement with Taiwan that reflects our deepening unofficial relationship.” The move welcomed by Taiwan’s government as turning a new page in bilateral relations.

The new contact guidelines, which were circulated within U.S. government agencies but not released to the public, reportedly allow U.S. officials to hold regular meetings with Taiwanese counterparts, including at Taiwan’s representative offices in the U.S. The new rules would also allow U.S. officials to participate in meetings at “Twin Oaks,” the former residence of Taiwanese ambassadors to the U.S., although they would not be allowed to attend celebrations of the so-called “Double Ten National Day” and other Taiwanese holidays. [1]

On April 11, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the United States is concerned about China’s aggressive actions against Taiwan. He said the U.S. has a longstanding bipartisan “serious commitment to Taiwan being able to defend itself” and also a “serious commitment to peace and security in the Western Pacific.” “And in that context, it would be a serious mistake for anyone to try to change that status quo by force,” Blinken warned. [2]

Nonetheless, in response to the U.S.’ new contacts guidelines with Taiwan and warning of Chinese aggression, China sent 25 military aircraft into Taiwan’s ADIZ on April 12. It was the 10th straight day that Chinese warplanes entered the zone, while the number of aircraft was the highest in a single day so far this year. The previous high of 20 was on March 26, after Taiwan and the U.S. signed an agreement to bolster coast guard cooperation. [3]

The United States again urged China to cease its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure against Taiwan and instead engage in meaningful dialogue with Taiwan, a State Department spokesperson said on April 12. Moreover, on April 13, the European Union (EU) also expressed concern over the recent Chinese military activities in areas near Taiwan and called on China to avoid unilateral actions that could fuel tensions across the Taiwan Strait. [4]

[1] Focus Taiwan (https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202104100005)
[2] Focus Taiwan (https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202104120005)
[3] Taipei Times (https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2021/04/14/2003755660)
[4] Focus Taiwan (https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202104140016)

President Tsai Talks Trade and Security with U.S. Delegation

On April 15, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen received a U.S. delegation, led by former Senator Chris Dodd, at the Presidential Office. She reiterated Taiwan’s willingness to resume trade talks with the United States and work with like-minded countries to safeguard regional peace and stability.

Former senator Dodd, former deputy secretaries of state Richard Armitage and James Steinberg, and the director of State Department’s Office of Taiwan Coordination Dan Biers arrived in Taipei on April 14 for a three-day visit. The delegation was the first sent by President Joe Biden and came amid increased Chinese military maneuvers near Taiwan and a growing power struggle between the U.S. and China.

“China has frequently dispatched military vessels and aircraft to carry out maneuvers in the waters and [ADIZ] surrounding Taiwan,” President Tsai told the U.S. delegation. “These actions alter the status quo in the Indo-Pacific and threaten regional peace and stability.” “We are very willing to work with like-minded countries, including the U.S., to jointly safeguard the peace and stability of the Indo-Pacific and deter adventurous maneuvers and provocations,” she added.

Turning to economic matters, Tsai said that Taiwan looks forward to resuming talks for the bilateral U.S.-Taiwan Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, which stalled in October 2016, reportedly because Taiwan was hesitant to import U.S. pork containing ractopamine, a leanness-enhancing feed additive. However, Taiwan had eased the restrictions in January 2021, leading to expectations that trade talks would resume. She also said Taiwan continues to serve as a reliable partner to the U.S., especially in the areas of supply chain security and 5G technology and infrastructure.

Meanwhile, Dodd said his bipartisan delegation was formed at the request of Biden to reaffirm the U.S.’ commitment to its partnership with Taiwan, which is “stronger than ever.” He also expressed confidence that the Biden administration would help Taiwan expand its international space and self-defense capabilities, as well as deepen already robust economic ties.

Armitage, for his part, said the Biden administration supports Taiwan because of its “great democracy” and not because the U.S. is trying to annoy China. In Steinberg’s remarks, he praised Taiwan’s COVID-19 response, calling it a testament to how a democracy can provide strong and effective governance that benefits itself and the world.

Nevertheless, shortly after the U.S. delegation landed in Taipei, China’s Maritime Safety Administration announced a six-day live-fire military exercise would begin on April 15 in waters near the Nanpeng Islands in the north of South China Sea. China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) said the exercise is a “necessity” to prevent collusion between Taiwan and the U.S., adding that the “unofficial” visit of the U.S. delegation was a sham, and China is categorically against any Taiwan-US interaction.

[1] Taipei Times (https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2021/04/16/2003755786)
[2] Focus Taiwan (https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202104150010)
[3] Taipei Times (https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2021/04/16/2003755801)