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Taiwan Tati Cultural and Educational Foundation

Obama’s Chinese lesson

US President Barack Obama’s visit to China was most notable for his hosts’ refusal to play his game. Nothing could have been more symbolically ludicrous and deflating for Obama and the dignity of the office of US president than speaking before a bunch of hand-picked university students taking part in a “town hall” address in Shanghai. Never mind that the students were mostly or all members of the Chinese Communist Party, that they asked vetted, even infantile, questions or that the students who sat behind Obama — and were thus visible to TV and online audiences — behaved as if they couldn’t understand a word.

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SEF-ARATS talks subvert Taiwanese sovereignty

The resumption of talks between the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) has been flaunted by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) as one of his major political achievements. With the fourth round of talks between SEF Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) and ARATS Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) scheduled for next month, how should we assess these high-level talks?

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Did the DPP fall into a US beef trap?

The expediency with which the Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) administration announced it was lifting a partial ban on US beef imports — and the predictable response this engendered from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) — raises questions about the government’s intent that go well beyond food safety issues. National Security Council Secretary-General Su Chi’s (蘇起) admission that “poor communication” marred the announcement is insufficient to dispel doubts that the move by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)-led executive branch was a strategy to further undermine the DPP’s already strained relations with the US.

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Ma administration rolls over again

This government’s ability to capitulate at the drop of a hat when dealing with China never ceases to amaze.

The latest example came on Friday last week when Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) Chairman Sean Chen (陳冲) told legislators that he would not sign the cross-strait financial memorandum of understanding (MOU) if China failed to respect Taiwan’s request that his full official title appear on the document. He added that he would rather not sign at all if doing so would put “national sovereignty on the line.”

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Furtive government deals disturbing

Following the ruckus last month in which the government took the public and the legislature by surprise with its sudden announcement that it was lifting a ban on US bone-in beef imports, the government did it again on Monday night: It blitzed the public and lawmakers with a declaration that it had signed a financial memorandum of understanding (MOU) with China.

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Let them come, let them speak

With closer, more frequent and open cultural and academic exchanges across the Taiwan Strait, the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) may hope to foster an image of rapprochement, if not understanding. While such contact is not new and happened, albeit in a low-profile fashion, during the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration, the seniority of the Chinese officials and academics invited to speak at forums in Taiwan and the coverage the meetings have received is unprecedented in 60 years of cross-strait diplomacy.

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Newsflash

Experts told a conference in Washington on Wednesday that to avoid war over Taiwan, Beijing and Washington must change their current policies.

“China must renounce the use of force against Taiwan or Washington must declare clearly, unequivocally and publicly that it will defend Taiwan against Chinese attack,” said Joseph Bosco, who served in the office of the US secretary of defense as a China country desk officer in 2005 and 2006.

The US, China and Taiwan urgently need a “declaration of strategic clarity,” he said.

Quoting former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger, Bosco said that while ambiguity was sometimes the lifeblood of diplomacy, it could not be maintained indefinitely.