2023-0817: Taiwan Is Already Independent, Taiwan VP Lai Says; U.S. Rep. Bacon’s Emails Hacked by China

Taiwan Is Already a Sovereign, Independent Country: Taiwan VP Lai

Taiwan is a “sovereign, independent country” and therefore “there is no need to declare independence,” Taiwan Vice President and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Lai Ching-te (or William Lai) told Bloomberg Businessweek in an interview aired on August 15, while he is on a seven-day trip to the U.S. and Paraguay.

“Taiwan is already a sovereign, independent country called the Republic of China,” Lai said, echoing a stance Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen made public three years ago, in his first interview with an international media outlet since becoming vice president in 2020.

“There is no need to declare [Taiwan] independence,” said Lai, who has on more than one occasion described himself as a “pragmatic worker for Taiwan independence.”

Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China “are not subordinate to one another.”

“My responsibility is to maintain the status quo in the Taiwan Strait, while protecting Taiwan and maintaining democracy, peace and prosperity,” the 63-year-old politician said.

At the same time, Lai pitched himself as a “rational and steady” leader who is able to continue President Tsai’s policy and work with the U.S. government effectively.

“I have been part of President Tsai’s national security team,” which has “responsible and clear channels of communications” with Washington, he said.

Lai described next year’s Taiwan presidential election as a decision between further engaging with the international community and working with China through caving in to its political agenda.

Lai, the presidential candidate for the ruling DPP, is leading in most opinion polls, with Taiwan People’s Party Chairman Ko Wen-je and New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) trailing behind.

While stressing that he remains “open” to engaging in dialogue with China, Lai took note of the security challenges facing Taiwan because of China’s ambition to “annex Taiwan” and refusal to denounce the use of force.

These challenges are of global concern, he said, adding that the international community must respond to China’s aggressive actions, which he said “are the reasons for tensions” in the Taiwan Strait.

Lai was visiting Paraguay for the inauguration of Paraguayan President Santiago Pena. Paraguay is one of only 13 countries to maintain diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

He transited through New York on his way there, drawing anger from China, which said he was a separatist and “troublemaker,” and he is due back in Taiwan on August 18 after stopping over in San Francisco.

[1] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2023/08/16/2003804803
[2] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/cross-strait/202308150006

U.S. Congressman Bacon Says His E-mails Were Hacked by China

U.S. Representative Don Bacon (R-NE) said he is among those whose e-mails were hacked in an espionage campaign that Microsoft Corp has attributed to China.

Bacon, a strong advocate for U.S. military support to Taiwan, posted on social media that the FBI had notified him that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) hacked into his personal and campaign e-mails over the course of a month, from May 15 to June 16.

“The CCP hackers utilized a vulnerability in the Microsoft software, and this was not due to ‘user error,’” he wrote on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

Bacon, a member of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee, received an e-mail from Microsoft indicating he might have been hacked and advising him to change his password on June 16, said Maggie Sayers, Bacon’s press secretary.

The FBI did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs described claims about the Chinese hacking campaign as “false information.”

Bacon posted on X that he would “work overtime” to ensure U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.

As for why he was hacked, Bacon wrote: “I stand against the Uighur genocide and abuses conducted in Tibet and Hong Kong. And, I support an independent Taiwan.”

Last month, Microsoft reported that China-based actors gained access to e-mail accounts affecting about 25 organizations including government agencies and consumer accounts of individuals likely associated with these groups.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo was among the U.S. officials whose e-mails were breached and the e-mails of Nicholas Burns, U.S. ambassador to China, were also breached, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced that a cybersecurity advisory panel is to investigate malicious targeting of cloud computing environments and Microsoft’s role in the breach.

[1] Taipei Time: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2023/08/17/2003804871