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Taiwan Tati Cultural and Educational Foundation

COVID-19: Palauan leader in Taiwan to boost ties


Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu, right, welcomes Palauan President Surangel Whipps Jr at Taiwan Taoyuan International airport yesterday.
Photo: Ritchie B. Tongo, EPA-EFE

Palauan President Surangel Whipps Jr arrived in Taiwan yesterday afternoon for a five-day visit to promote tourism to his country, becoming the first head of state to visit the nation since the COVID-19 pandemic began last year.

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Obstruction by pro-China forces

After China maliciously stopped importing pineapples from Taiwan, effective from March 1, many overseas Taiwanese in the US voiced their desire to buy Taiwanese pineapples. However, when the Overseas Community Affairs Council offered to help them buy pineapples from Taiwan, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chen Yu-jen (陳玉珍) accused the council of using state mechanisms to make propaganda for domestic consumption.

Taiwanese agricultural products have become overdependent on the Chinese market mainly because of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement, which was signed during the administration of former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the KMT. The terms of the agreement, which allowed many of Taiwan’s farm products to be shipped to China tariff-free, help China to ensnare Taiwan with its “lure, trap and kill” strategy.

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Beijing ramps up the hypocrisy

One cannot help but admire the sheer brass neck of China’s propagandists. On Wednesday, the Chinese State Council Information Office released “The Report on Human Rights Violations in the United States in 2020,” a 16-page document that opens with the quote: “I can’t breathe,” which were among the final words of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody in Minnesota.

Conveniently ignoring China’s egregious human rights record, including the systematic destruction of Tibetan and Mongolian culture, and the mass internment of more than 1 million Uighurs and other ethnic minorities in China’s Xinjiang region, the report accuses the US of gross human rights violations.

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World democracies should unite

There is some good news to report. Responding to the changing nature of the Taiwan-China-US trilateral relationship, US Admiral Phillip Davidson, commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command, told a US Senate Committee on Armed Services on Tuesday last week: “I worry that they’re [China] accelerating their ambitions to supplant the United States and our leadership role in the rules-based international order.”

“Taiwan is clearly one of their ambitions before that. And I think the threat is manifest during this decade. In fact, in the next six years,” he said, adding that the US’ long-standing policy of “strategic ambiguity” over Taiwan “should be reconsidered routinely.”

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Beijing concocts a Thucydides trap

It is almost impossible to read anything that involves the US and China without the phrase “Thucydides trap” popping up.

It is a natural application: The US is an established power, while China continues to rise.

China and Russia seem to have resolved their problems by the creation of buffer states between them, and while conflict between China and India grows, it is more difficult to claim which is the rising power, a determination needed to apply the term.

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Separating ‘indigenous peoples’ from ‘Aborigines’

On the eve of International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on Sunday, Minister Without Portfolio Audrey Tang (唐鳳) discussed in an interview how to solve discrimination against “indigenous peoples,” saying “more than 80 percent of all Taiwanese might have indigenous ancestry.”

However, Taiwan’s outstanding minister was mistaken, a mistake common among the public.

First, “indigenous peoples” is not a concept based on ancestry or genetics.

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Newsflash

The Control Yuan is close to concluding its investigation into the Maokong Gondola and has found President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) not to be responsible for problems with the project, a Control Yuan member said on condition of anonymity yesterday.

The gondola, which has been suspended since Oct. 1 last year after mudslides eroded the ground beneath a support pillar, was one of Ma’s major projects when he was Taipei mayor.