A friend of mine flagged this passage in the recent State Department briefing on the visit of Tsai Ing-wen to the US. It uses some interesting language...
QUESTION: Yes. A couple, Taiwan.Well, he pointed out, this is the same language Tsai Ing-wen used in her WSJ piece the other day, the idea of partnership. Interestingly, the language Ms. Harf used today is almost verbatim from Deputy Asst Secretary in the East Asia/Pacific Affairs Bureau Susan Thornton's speech in mid-May:
MS HARF: Uh-huh.
QUESTION: As you know, the opposition – the head of the opposition party in Taiwan, Ms. Tsai Ing-wen, visited here with United States.
MS HARF: Will be visiting, I think.
QUESTION: Here in this town, yeah.
MS HARF: In the – yes, correct.
QUESTION: Yes, yes. And does any U.S. official, including State Department and White House, plan to meet her?
MS HARF: Well, we certainly welcome her visit and look forward to a productive exchange. I don’t have a full outline of her meetings yet. I believe there are some that will be planned with U.S. officials, but I don’t have that in front of me. So I think the schedule’s still being worked.
QUESTION: Yeah. Are you concerned any Chinese reaction after the meeting, if somebody meet her?
MS HARF: Well, we – look, we have an interest in a comprehensive, durable, and mutually beneficial partnership with Taiwan. But that is fully consistent with our One China policy, and that’s something we’ve said consistently, that’s based on the three joint communiques, and the Taiwan Relations Act. So we believe you can support Taiwan’s security and freedom from coercion, you can promote Taiwan’s economic prosperity, and help people in Taiwan enjoy the respect they deserve in the international community while supporting at the same time our policy that hasn’t changed. We believe we can do both.
"...comprehensive, durable, and mutually beneficial partnership with Taiwan.Does new language signal new policy? Maybe. One effect, historically, of the US drawing closer to China is that Taiwan gets denigrated. Now the pendulum is swinging the other way: as the US increasingly confronts China, Taiwan's status is going to get an upgrade. This may also mean that anti-Taiwan individuals in the government and punditocracy aren't going to get as much of a hearing as they used to, a very good thing. Much depends on how Tsai handles things...
Meanwhile my friend Les alerts me to the fact that Ma is terrorized by the Tsai Ing-wen visit and the thought that she might change US policy, and so is rushing off to the US in July to see if he can spread the One True Gospel of Return to China in Washington. Alas, it isn't 2007 anymore, no one believes in Ma's competence and pragmatism except the toadies who surround him. Alas, China's belligerence and inability to compromise has betrayed Ma on every level, Mordor's betrayal of Saruman. Only this time he can't do his Saruman in Orthanc imitation...
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