1014: Untying Biden’s Hands on Taiwan, French Naval Presence in Taiwan Strait, Harvard’s Mandarin Program to Relocate to Taiwan

Congress Must Untie Biden’s Hands on Taiwan: Rep. Luria

In a Washington Post op-ed on October 11, Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA), a 20-year Navy veteran and vice chair of the House Armed Services Committee, urged the Congress to loosen the restrictions on a U.S. president’s ability to quickly respond and effectively repel a Chinese invasion of Taiwan.

China might invade Taiwan in the next six years, and tensions across the Taiwan Strait have risen rapidly with a record number of Chinese warplanes intruding near Taiwan. And yet, the War Powers Act requires the U.S. president to seek Congressional authorization for a military deployment to defend Taiwan, only enabling China to win a quick fight before the U.S. mobilizes, Luria contended.

“The legal limitations on a president’s ability to respond quickly could all but ensure a Chinese fait accompli. Simply put: The president has no legal authority to react in the time necessary to repel a Chinese invasion of Taiwan and deter an all-out war,” Luria wrote.

In February, the Taiwan Invasion Prevention Act was introduced in both chambers of Congress to grant the president the authority to act quickly against an invasion of Taiwan and prevent a fait accompli. “This act is a good starting point to address a legal dilemma,” Luria said.

“If the president’s hands remain legally tied in preventing Chinese military action against Taiwan, then an even larger conflict with China is most certainly assured — resulting in potentially disastrous loss of life on both sides and plunging the global economy into recession for a generation,” Luria wrote. “The time for this debate in Congress is now, not when conflict occurs,” she emphasized.

Recently, lawmakers from both parties have increasingly called on the Biden administration to abandon the longtime U.S. policy of “Strategic Ambiguity” toward Taiwan and make clear that the United States would defend Taiwan should China attack.

“I think that removing the ambiguity would be good,” Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told POLITICO during its first-ever defense forum on October 7. Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, also said that he backs a “move away from strategic ambiguity.” “I use the term ‘strategic deterrence,’ but deterrence only if there’s clarity in that deterrence,” Bera added.

[1] Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/10/11/elaine-luria-congress-biden-taiwan/
[2] Politico: https://www.politico.com/newsletters/national-security-daily/2021/10/07/lawmakers-end-strategic-ambiguity-toward-taiwan-494626

France Confirms Naval Presence in Taiwan Strait, Amid Escalating Cross-Strait Tensions

France’s defense minister has warned escalating tensions between Taiwan and China could have dramatic consequences, after revealing one of the country’s naval vessels had been present in the Taiwan Strait.

On October 12, Defense Minister Florence Parly told a hearing of the country’s Senate that France would use its navy to demonstrate an adherence to international law and freedom of navigation, citing maneuvers by the signals intelligence vessel Dupuy-de-Lôme in the Taiwan Strait as evidence.

Parly was responding to Senator Olivier Cadic, who asked if any concrete action was being taken to back Paris’ oft-expressed support for maintaining the cross-Strait status quo. Cadic, vice president of the French Senate’s Foreign Affairs, Defense and Armed Forces Committee, said Taiwan was facing increased Chinese military intimidation, citing daily incursions into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) as evidence.

Sen. Cadic, who recently concluded a five-day trip to Taiwan, said the Taiwanese lawmakers he met during the trip expressed the wish for support from France in ensuring security in the Taiwan Strait.

The delegation of French senators that visited Taiwan from October 6–10 was led by Alain Richard, head of the French Senate’s Taiwan Friendship Group and French defense minister from 1997 to 2002.

During his trip, Sen. Richard said Taiwan should be called a “country.” Richard acknowledged that what to call Taiwan’s representative offices was a tricky issue. “It’s a fine diplomatic issue, but what is striking to me is that the name of this island and this country is Taiwan,” he said, speaking in English. “So there is no big point in trying to, you know, prevent this country to use its name,” he added.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202110130019
[2] Reuters: https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/call-taiwan-country-french-senator-says-angering-china-2021-10-08/

Harvard to Relocate Mandarin Program from China to Taiwan

Harvard University is to relocate its summer Mandarin program from China to Taiwan next year. Run at Beijing Language and Culture University (BLCU) since 2004, the “Harvard Beijing Academy” is to become the “Harvard Taipei Academy” once it moves to National Taiwan University (NTU), Harvard’s student newspaper Crimson reported on October 7.

Program director Jennifer Liu attributed the decision of moving to a “perceived lack of friendliness” from the host Chinese university, BLCU, potentially due to shifting political winds. The program typically hosted a small U.S. Independence Day party on the fourth of July, but BLCU banned the celebration party in 2019. Liu suspects that the unwelcoming environment may be due to a change in the Chinese government’s attitude toward U.S. institutions since Xi Jinping’s rise to power.

Since the 1980s, China has eclipsed Taiwan as a study destination for Mandarin learning. However, with the worsening relations between the U.S. and China, and the U.S. labeling of Confucius Institutes as foreign missions, Taiwan is once again becoming an attractive study location. Starting next summer, a total of 60 Harvard University students will attend the eight-week Mandarin program at NTU.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) spokeswoman Joanne Ou welcomed Harvard’s decision to move its summer mandarin program to Taipei. MOFA believes that the democratic and free society in Taiwan will offer an open environment for American students to learn Mandarin while developing a deeper understanding of Taiwan, Ou said.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/culture/202110120016
[2] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2021/10/13/2003766004