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China has put Taiwan in the invidious position of having to take whatever friends it can get; it may not, at times, be the best of company, but Taiwan needs all the support it can get.
Taiwan indigenous people – 1871, tribe unknown. Photo: John Thomson; Wikipedia.
One of the worst things about being a de-facto state by accident of post-WWII history is you don’t get to choose your friends – assuming anyone or any country really does get to do that.
Taiwan has had to deal with sieges and occupations by the Qing Empire, the Spanish, the Dutch, the Japanese and the Chinese Nationalist army in retreat from the Chinese Communist Party, who now want it for themselves.
The latter is despite the fact the CCP’s arch enemies, the Nationalists, or Kuomintang (KMT), have been voted out of power by the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
Most of the thoroughly unsavory types follow the money, which saves Taiwan some taint by association.
But China is beginning to make itself so pinch-the-nose dislikable that Taiwan is now gathering the usual coterie of friends that all democracies have to invite to dinner.
Some of them get greedy – Paraguay, for example, wants US$1 billion to stay friends – and will likely drift away. Others – take Mike Pompeo; does he really represent the US and is he really the kind of friend anyone wants? – are probably around for the long haul.
Foreign Policy reports on Italy’s pivot to the right and why it could be good for Taiwan relations. It’s a pity that Italy had to swing right for that to happen, but so it is and we’re all still figuring out what really happened in Italy.
Meanwhile, according to the Taiwan News, the UK’s new prime minister, Liz Truss, who’s shaping up to be the least popular British head of state since, well, Boris Johnson, “said in a CNN interview broadcast on Sunday that the UK is determined to cooperate with allies to ensure that Taiwan can defend itself.”
But overall Taiwan’s sudden arrival to the limelight has to be seen as a positive development as it will hopefully give China pause for thought about a globally unpopular military action that could result in devastatingly punitive actions – and worse still (for Beijing) defeat.
As The Diplomat recently noted all foreign recognition and support for Taiwan is probably best seen in a positive light.
Since January 2021, European Parliament Vice President Nicola Beer and members of her delegation, who visited Taiwan in July this year, have worked actively to raise Taiwan-related issues in the European Parliament and helped pass 20 resolutions supporting Taiwan.
Following congressional delegations from Europe to Taiwan, the European Parliament passed resolutions backing Taiwan’s participation in international organizations and called on partners of the European Union, such as Japan, New Zealand, Australia, and India, to voice support for Taiwan against Beijing’s intimidation. European companies also followed suit by enhancing ties with Taiwan via collaborating with Taiwanese partners on joint projects, notably green energy, the offshore wind industry, digital innovation, biotechnology, and electric vehicles.
The hope in Taiwan, and increasingly elsewhere, is that Taiwan becomes a normal global partner in business, technology and progressive, inclusive ideology, making the very thought of acting on dubious territorial claims unthinkable.
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If you’re into money …
Photo: Mxk, Dreamstime.com.
… The Financial Times reports that the Chinese renminbi has fallen to its lowest level since 2008.
In fact, everybody, it seems, has an opinion on whither the Chinese renminbi. ChinaDiction is going to lemming-like hold with the crowd and mutter, This can’t lead to any good.
So far the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) has been holding a bucking-bronco US dollar down – kind of – but it’s probably a lost cause.
The renminbi is the latest major currency to succumb to a wave of dollar strength that has sent exchange rates from the pound to the yen spiralling lower this year.
As the People’s Bank of China pursues monetary easing to shore up economic growth, continued policy divergence with the hawkish US Federal Reserve is expected to push the Chinese currency down further.
The PBoC has so far stopped short of deploying significant foreign exchange reserves, instead relying on indirect measures to discourage bets on continued falls and slow the pace of depreciation.
The onshore exchange rate for the currency fell 0.7 per cent to Rmb7.2268 on Wednesday, bringing it 13.8 per cent lower for the year to date.
Great time to visit China if you make US dollars.
Your weekly reminder: China’s closed.
The Wall Street Journal quotes the Central Bank of China, which warned punters late on Wednesday not to get to frisky with bets either way – up or down …
‘The foreign exchange market is of great importance, and maintaining its stability is the top priority,’ it stated. It said investors shouldn’t be betting on the unilateral appreciation or depreciation of the yuan, and called on banks to curb such activity. It also said some companies have been engaging in currency speculation or flouting regulations, without giving details.
The yuan ‘has withstood the test of many rounds of external shocks,’ it said. ‘You will lose if you keep betting.’
Separately, the Financial Times takes a more macro-nuanced view of the ongoing story, while also suggesting that Beijing might be reluctantly ready to let the RMB slide against the US dollar along with every other currency.
While this is not a “systemic crisis” moment, it is a worrying sign for the global macro outlook. After all, China is the single most important trading economy in the world.
If the CNY is on a path to sustained depreciation, that is big news for every other exporter; most other countries will have to follow to keep themselves competitive. And yet, many of these countries are already facing high inflation and the need to defend their currencies from further depreciation.
As important, the overnight move might be a sign that the PBoC is now comfortable with further weakness. A few days ago, it seemed like the Chinese central bank was planning to push back against further USD strength.
If China is now changing tack, there is considerable room to go. In some ways, the recent CNY weakness is just the currency playing catchup to the weakness in every other currency against the dollar. We estimate that if the CNY were to go back to Q1 2021 levels on the CFETs basket, it would need to depreciate to 7.5 against the USD.
Reuters isn’t bullish on China’s announcements about the resilience of the RMB (otherwise known as the yuan):
China's yuan is unlikely to continue depreciating rapidly, the state-owned Securities Times said in a front-page commentary on Thursday, as currencies continue to be pressured by a U.S. dollar boosted by hawkish Federal Reserve monetary tightening.
Prudent balance of payments has lent support and led somewhat "restrained" losses in the yuan compared with peers, the newspaper said.
‘As long as market expectations can be stabilised, and as the policies to support domestic economic growth continue to take effect, it will be hard for the dollar index to bring huge volatility to the yuan,’ it said.
Reuters added cautiously, “Market participants usually view such state media commentary as indicative of authorities growing uncomfortable with rapid currency movement.”
The news service noted that the yuan looks set for its biggest annual decline since 1994.
It’s all very well to put your credibility on the line if you’re on a 100% winner (how often does that happen?), but risky when a myriad of mysterious machinations are neither with you or against you.
That, it’s safe to say, is where China is at now, and it’s probably running out of options to be the ultimate arbiter of its currency’s international value.
As Bloomberg puts it:
The greenback could see further gains as US appears unconcerned over the currency’s appreciation, said Rajeev De Mello, a global macro portfolio manager at GAMA Asset Management in Geneva. ‘It serves them in their fight against inflation,’ he said.
Wednesday’s yuan fix had the smallest strong bias in two weeks. Traders took that as a sign Beijing may be easing its support amid the rampant dollar.
The information vacuum
Inscrutable China. Photo: Victor He, Unsplash.
The Financial Times has an apposite piece on how we have incrementally come to know less and less about China just as we all fret over the country’s economy and its territorial ambitions – about, even, last weekend, whether it had arrested its Party chairman.
As China has grown into a superpower, the knowledge and expertise about the country accumulated by a generation of scholars, diplomats and businesspeople has become more important than ever. Yet many of those sources are now running dry.
Under Chinese leader Xi Jinping, censorship has been tightened, power has become more concentrated at the top and access for foreigners has been sharply restricted.
Let’s just take the 20th National Party Congress, which is coming up next month. It’s a big deal, and our best analysts are still pretty much guessing what will transpire.
OK, events in our own countries regularly take us by surprise as well, but that’s not the point of this entry.
Back to that Party Congress:
While it is widely expected that the congress will rubber stamp a third term for Xi, much of the rest is guesswork.
‘What people in DC really want to know is who is going to move up and who is going to move down, especially who is going to be the next premier who will make economic policy, but frankly we are reading the tea leaves,” says Wang Yuhua, a professor of government at Harvard University.
What’s the US vice-president got to say?
Kamala Harris in 2016 with the Oroville Spillway & Flood Response, California National Guard – not exactly a destroyer off Yokosuka in Japan. Photo: WikiCommons.
The Straits Times reports that US Vice-President Kamala Harris described Chinese actions in the Pacific as “disturbing,” pledging to deepen “unofficial ties” with Taiwan on Wednesday
The way things are going, we’re all going to be fighting over who gets to defend Taiwan from China.
Harris was speaking on the deck of the USS Howard destroyer at Yokosuka, south of Tokyo.
Yokosuka is the biggest overseas US military base in the world, in a mark of just how seriously America takes its Pacific presence as China pushes for increased projection.
“China is undermining key elements of the international rules-based order,” said Harris.
‘China has flexed its military and economic might to coerce and intimidate its neighbors. And we have witnessed disturbing behaviour in the East China Sea and in the South China Sea, and most recently, provocations across the Taiwan Strait.’
In a troubling side note, up at the Korean de-militarized zone, Harris managed to refer to the Republic of North Korea as having an important alliance with the US.
Somewhat of a damper in terms of her support for Taiwan – she may have been talking about Thailand – or Tajikistan – for all we know.
China opens cop shops in Canada
According to the National Post, the PRC has opened at least three police stations in Canada “to keep an eye on the Chinese-Canadian diaspora.”
Three addresses in Toronto are known to be registered as “service stations” operated by the Fuzhou Public Security Bureau [PSB], a police force active in the Chinese metropolis of Fuzhou.
The revelations were contained in a newly published report by the Asian human rights group Safeguard Defenders.
According to Chinese sources, the stations are there to simply assist expats in doing paperwork for driver’s licenses etc, but Safeguard Defenders maintain that the stations are outposts for the Chinese policy of “Involuntary Return.”
Involuntary Return refers to a program of compelling Chinese nationals to return when they’re are deemed to have violated Chinese law.
In just the last year, reported the group, Chinese authorities have claimed that 230,000 of their expats have been “persuaded to return” on various charges.
‘Spinach city’ kingpin cornered in Bangkok
The Wall Street Journal reports that a Casino king in Myanmar, caught eating Japanese in Bangkok is now jailed and will be extradited to China.
She Zhijiang (Shé Zhìjiāng, 佘志江)– AKA She Lunkai, Dylan She and Tang Kriang Kai – wanted for close on a decade on an international arrest warrant, is behind bars.
He set up operations in the Philippines and Cambodia before turning his attention to a corner of conflict-torn Myanmar that is controlled by a warlord and largely out of reach of government authorities, according to Thai police, human-rights groups and promotional materials for the projects.
He courted the warlord and potential investors with plans for an ambitious urban development project called Yatai New City, showcasing a large casino, luxury hotels and shopping malls, the promotional materials show. What he built over the past five years has drawn the focus of law enforcement and human-rights groups, who say it has become Southeast Asia’s newest haven for crime.
She, the biggest swipe so far at the fugitives’ alleged new hideout, was based on a tip from Chinese law enforcement, said Maj. Gen. Kemarin Hassiri, commander for foreign affairs for the Royal Thai Police and the head of Interpol’s National Central Bureau in Thailand.
‘She Zhijiang is a dolphin, but there are whales out there,’ he said. ‘Even bigger fish are waiting to be caught.’
Chinese sometimes colloquially refer to the sprawling illicit casino operations on their boundaries as “spinach cities” due to the similar pronunciations in Chinese between “spinach” and “gambling.”
Grounded before takeoff
‘Born to Fly’ will miss its National Day release.
The movie Born to Fly (Chángkōng zhī Wáng, 长空之王) – billed as “China’s own Top Gun” – has missed its box office debut today and there’s no word on when — or if — the movie will eventually premiere, according to RADII, a website.
It is unclear why exactly Born to Fly has been withdrawn from the National Day premiere schedule. However, the cancelation announcement vaguely attributes the film’s scrapped theatrical release to the need to ‘improve special effects.’
Non-cinematic Chinese jets buzzing US ships
The Drive features some pretty exciting video of “Chinese J-15 fighter jets, apparently operating from the aircraft carrier Liaoning … flying over a US Navy destroyer in a video recently shown on state-run China Central Television.”
While it can’t be confirmed when or where the video of the J-15s over the unidentified U.S. Navy destroyer was taken, speculation has it that the incident took place in the Taiwan Strait.
COMAC C919 airliner certified by CAAC
China’s homegrown C919 taking off from Pudong, Shanghai. Photo: Ken Chen; Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0.
Aviation Week reports that China’s COMAC C919 airliner attained airworthiness certification from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) yesterday, “a little more than five years since the narrow-body made its first flight in 2017.”
Further news was unavailable at the time of publication, but certification of a home-made commercial jet is big news for the world’s second largest economy, which has had to lean on Boeing and AirBus to fill its skies.
‘Sheep a Sheep’ goes viral
Sheep – nothing to do with the game in China. Photo: Ekrulila, Pexels.
The game doesn’t feature wolves, unlike the Children’s books in Hong Kong that landed speech therapists in jail, but it can bypass Chinese restrictions on games (WeChat and ByteDance don’t currently require a game license to publish their HTML5 games on their platforms).
Also it’s really hard – “That’s what piques people’s interest say analysts” – according to CNBC.
The game requires players to eliminate tiles of the same category in groups of three. People who succeed win a cartoon sheep that then joins a virtual herd based on the player’s region, thereby boosting the ranking of the player’s province.
‘Many people have never [had] such game experience before,’ [Xiaofeng] Wang, senior analyst at Forrester, said. ‘From very, very easy to very, very difficult, they heard different people on social media talking about that, that generated a lot of curiosity, “Why is this so hard?” That’s why it’s so unique.’
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The Greater Sinosphere
‘Seditious messages’ posted ahead of National Day
We wouldn’t bet on either of those horses posted in celebration of National Day in Hong Kong. Photo: Twitter.
Hong Kong is allegedly on high alert ahead of China’s National Day (tomorrow, October 1), after police arrested two men for posting “seditious messages” online that “promote feelings of ill will and enmity between different classes of the population of Hong Kong and incite the use of violence,” reports the China Project.
Hong Kong has been subject to a sweeping political lockdown since pro-democracy marches and violence wracked the city three years ago.
CNBC reports that the men, aged 18 and 29, were arrested on Tuesday.
Hong Kong has arrested 215 people for national security offenses as of mid-September and nearly 130 of them were formally charged.
Former Hong Kong lawmaker sentenced to 3-1/2 years in Australia
The main entrance to Hong Kong’s High Court. Photo: WikiCommons.
Hong Kong Free Press reports that the High Court sentenced former pro-democracy lawmaker Ted Hui in absentia to 3-1/2 years in prison for contempt of court after fleeing to Australia.
The former Hong Kong politician was not represented in court.
Hui was given permission to travel overseas while on bail by two judges, enabling him to leave the city in November 2020 on the pretext of attending climate change meetings in Denmark. Authorities later said Hui enlisted the help of Danish legislators to draft a bogus itinerary and invitation letter to facilitate his flight
After learning of his sentencing, Hui told HKFP that he “despised” the court’s decision.
‘Let the Hong Kong courts sentence the air, and allow the world to see the madness and incompetence of Hong Kong’s authorities,’ he said, adding that he would continue to openly hold the city’s judiciary in contempt and fight for Hongkongers’ freedoms.
Marshall, Solomon islands play coy, US gets serious at Pacific Summit
Village life on the Solomon Islands, where global players are are handing out hundreds of millions of dollars to politicians for influence in the Pacific. Photo Dreamstime.com.
The Financial Times reports that the US is committing US$210 million to counter China’s advances in the Pacific.
Dissension among the ranks of the first-ever U.S.-Pacific Island Country Summit, which opened on Wednesday in Washington, DC, had been complicating the summit, according to Politico.
The announcement of a financial commitment comes as part of a US boost in diplomatic engagement with countries from Fiji to Papua New Guinea, “after China caught the US by surprise this year by signing a security pact with the Solomon Islands.”
The promised aid from the Biden administration follows a pledge of $600mn in economic assistance for the next decade that US vice-president Kamala Harris unveiled in Fiji in July.
The Chinese deal with the Solomon Islands highlighted what experts said had been a lack of attention in recent years from Washington and its allies in the Pacific, including Australia and New Zealand.
In recent months, several senior US officials, including Harris and secretary of state Antony Blinken, have visited Pacific Island nations. Penny Wong, Australia’s foreign minister, also travelled to the region as part of a push from Canberra.
Charles Edel, a Pacific expert at think-tank CSIS, said the past year had served as a ‘wake-up’ call for the US about what he described as a critical need to increase engagement with small island nations in the Pacific.
‘This White House summit, and other moves over the past six months, have shown that the Biden administration understands the importance of engagement with the Pacific Island countries,’ said Edel.
Experts reject wet-market SARS-2 origin story
If anyone knows where SARS-CoV-2 originated, it’s under wraps, even as we continue to deal with the consequences of the novel pathogenic outbreak, whatever upbeat politicians tell electorates.
The National Review reports that, according to a senior Taiwanese public-health official, the Covid-19 virus did not likely originate at the Wuhan wet market, indicating that the Taiwan government has all but ruled out that explanation of the virus’s origins.
Actually, Taiwanese scientists and health officials have been skeptical of Chinese and WHO positions on the origins of SARS-CoV-2 almost from the get-go.
Taiwan was the first country in the world to warn the WHO of “atypical pneumonia” – a term used to describe SARS coronavirus – in Wuhan, China, on December 31 2019, pointing out that China was treating sufferers in isolation (an indication of suspected human-to-human transmission).
The warning was ignored because the WHO does not recognize Taiwan, in line with China policy.
We think the Wuhan Huanan wet market is not the origin,” said Lo Yi-Chun, the deputy director general of Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control. “It’s probably just a very important step in the transmission chain. The origin is somewhere else.”
“Maybe it’s still in Wuhan, for example, the laboratory, but we don’t have proof, solid evidence. The WHO has a better place to answer that question,” he said Monday, during a briefing organized for a group of reporters on a trip to Taiwan sponsored by the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
for its part, Beijing has stonewalled a complete international accounting of the circumstances behind the virus’s origins. China responded to Australia’s support of an inquiry into the matter with punitive trade measures, while Chinese authorities restricted the activities of a WHO investigative team that went to Wuhan in 2021.
Lo’s comments show that Taipei’s view on a wet-market origin has solidified since Taiwanese vice president Chen Chien-Jen said that it “may not be the origin of this infection” as the pandemic spread around the world in early 2020.
Taiwanese officials argue that their country’s lack of membership in the WHO cost millions of lives — since the international organization’s leadership ignored warnings from the Taiwanese government about potential human-to-human virus transmission.
The Taiwan position is hardly outrageous hyperbole, especially as winter approaches in the northern hemisphere and new “omicron” variants of SARS-2 continue to overwhelm hospitals and cause premature deaths and chronic health conditions known as long Covid.
Knowing where the virus originated now would do nothing to stop that, but including Taiwan in the global health policy debate in the first months of 2020 may have alerted us all to risks that were downplayed at a crucial moment.
Including Taiwan next time would be a wise move.
Chris Taylor in Bangkok
The nationwide push for permanent migrant workers
A mock referendum on migrant workers’ rights in Taipei September 2017, with nearly 60 foreign workers calling for equal political rights. Photo: Photo Fang Chun Che, Dreamstime.com
In 2012, Taiwan hosted about 445,000 migrant workers – mainly from Southeast Asia; by August 2022 that number had risen to just over 700,000.
In one case, a Vietnamese worker was shot nine times in a confrontation with police that almost certainly could have been handled differently. Just last week, a Vietnamese worker was basically cremated alive by high-temperature slag at a Kaohsiung steel plant.
Despite these tragedies, the vast majority of migrant workers earn money in Taiwan that allows them to pay for their children’s education, build houses, or start businesses. I have personally met many former migrant workers in the Phiippines who have spoken highly of their time in Taiwan and the changes that it made in their lives. Often, their one regret was that they could not stay longer due to time limits .
In line with its former unofficial anti-immigration policies, Taiwan made it almost impossible for migrant workers to stay in Tawan permanently.
National Development Council Minister Kung Ming-hsin (Gōng Míngxīn, 龔明鑫) recently said that Taiwan needs to add 400,000 permanent immigrants to its workforce. Ideally, this will break down to 100,000 foreign professionals, 100,000 foreign graduates of Taiwanese universities, and 200,000 migrant workers.
As a result, Taiwan rolled out a new plan to allow migrant workers to upgrade their status, bring family members to Taiwan, and eventually become permanent residents.
As I have written elsewhere, the plan in its first three months attracted just over 200 applications and yielded only 30 or so approvals. Financial requirements for family reunion are probably too high and the inability of children to stay permanently in Taiwan after adulthood was formerly a major problem for white collar professionals before reforms a few years ago.
But many Taiwanese programs are rolled out too quickly and experience teething problems before they eventually get on track. We’ll see. In any event, increasing numbers of permanent migrant workers has the potential to change Taiwan’s Han-centric society permanently.
ChinaDiction recommends Joe Henley’s book Migrante about migrant workers laboring on Taiwan’s far-flung fishing fleets.
It was featured in the English version of Commonwealth in the International News Lens and since has been published in traditional Chinese under the title 移民漁工血淚記 with all proceeds going to the Yilan Migrant Fisherman's Union and the Serve the People Association.
Michael Fahey in Taipei
Early screening implemented to cut cancer mortality rates
Taiwan's Ministry of Health has been providing free bi-annual low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) screening for people at high risk of lung cancer since July.
So far, they have identified 21 positive cases. Remarkably, 20 of them were early stage cases.
Early detection is crucial because there are usually no symptoms in Stage 1. Sadly, most cases are diagnosed at Stage 3 or Stage 4.
Mortality/survival numbers at these later stages are very grim. For example, the five-year survival rate for stage four patients is slightly less than 5%. But 55% survive that long if diagnosed at stage one.
The high risk groups in Taiwan eligible for biannual screening are:
Men (50-74) or women (45-74) with a child, sibling, or parent who has had lung cancer.
Any person 50-74 with a 30-year pack history of smoking.
Eighteen of the cases detected had family histories of lung cancer. Two cases were heavy smokers; one case was a person with a family history and a heavy smoker.
Some 55% of the early-detected cases were women, of whom less than 10% were smokers.
Cancer is Taiwan’s leading cause of death, and lung cancer is the most common fatal cancer. Treatment of lung cancer cost Taiwan’s National Health insurance scheme about US$500 million in 2018 alone.
Michael Fahey in Taipei
When the chips are down
Taiwan News columnist, co-publisher of Compass Magazine, and former Chair of the Taichung American Chamber of Commerce, Courtney Donovan Smith created a minor stir in Taiwan by editorializing that conjecture China is after Taiwan’s state-of-the-art, global-dominating chip sector just doesn’t wash.
Capturing Taiwan’s semiconductor industry is below … [other] priorities, in large part because of how the CCP thinks, but also because it wouldn’t work anyway. For one thing, a lot of stuff tends to get broken in a war.
Chip fabs are also quite fragile environments, and even tiny amounts of dust are a huge problem — and war tends to kick up a fair bit of dust.
What about the personnel to run them? Quite a few no doubt would have fled, or died.
Smith has a valid point. Blowing up Taiwan and re-educating its population is not the way for China to become a global chip powerhouse; it’s more likely to plunge us back into the dark ages of wind-up watches and printed newspapers.
Chris Taylor in Bangkok
Pompeo meets Tsai again, calls Taiwan a ‘great nation’
Taiwan’s on a roll that maybe even China can’t stop – it’s starting to look like Mordor vs The Shire in terms of popular ratings (see the leader above), per Reuters:
‘It is wonderful to be here. I've been looking forward to coming to visit with the people of Taiwan for a very long time,’ he told reporters in brief remarks upon arrival at the airport.
‘I'm so much looking forward to my trip to meet with businesspeople, people from government, people all across your great nation,’ he said.
Obviously, Pompeo is not the world’s most all-round likable guy – in fact, “queasy” perhaps best describes his aftereffect on many liberals.
His support for the mouse that roared against China makes him look good as a potential contender in US presidential elections – and then there are “appearance fees,” on which there have been no leaks on this current visit, but have been an issue in the past.
When Pompeo and his wife visited Taiwan in March this year, it was reported that he asked Taiwan for US$150,000 for speaking fees.
Chris Taylor in Bangkok
Anniversary calls for continued pressure on China
Tibetan Monks. Photo: Mayur Joshur; Upsplash.
The International Campaign for Tibet is marking today’s anniversary of the US Tibetan Policy Act (TPA) by calling for continued support of Tibet by passing the “Promoting a Resolution to the Tibet-China Conflict Act, a bipartisan bill that will push for a peaceful end to China’s more than 60 years of illegal occupation in Tibet.”
When it became law 20 years ago, the TPA codified political and programmatic support for Tibet.
As a result of the legislation, the US’ central objective on Tibet became promoting dialogue between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama’s envoys toward a negotiated agreement on Tibet. From 2002 to 2010, the two sides held 10 rounds of dialogue.
The TPA also codified the position of Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues in the State Department. Under the TPA, the Special Coordinator should work to protect the distinct religious, cultural, linguistic and national identity of Tibet.
Taiwan’s Grand Hotel yields its secrets to the public
The secret slide at the Yuanshan Fandian for Chiang Kai-shek’s escape in the event of an invasion by China. Photo: 吳琍君, RFI.
Radio Taiwan International (Chinese language) reports that the public can finally get a glimpse of some of the secret features of Taiwan’s famous Grand Hotel – known almost ubiquitously, even by the foreign community, as the Yuanshan (Yuánshān Fàndiàn, 圓山飯店).
This year is the 70th anniversary of the Yuanshan and Chairman Lin Yu-sheng (Lín Yùshēng, 林育生) said that the “the two secret roads to the east and west of the Yuanshan have been opened up, providing both domestic and foreign tourists a glimpse behind a mysterious veil that has been sealed for half a century.”
Just a couple of catches: the narrow space of the secret passages limit tourist numbers to 1,500 people a day – about 40,000 people a month – and visitors are not allowed to careen down Chiang’s bat-cave getaway slide.
Very much a killjoy after 70 years of waiting – especially when that slide is probably the only fun thing that Chiang bestowed on Taiwan.
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