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Can the U.S. and China Avoid Another Diplomatic Crisis?

Tontravel abroad Taiwan’s political leadership has been a diplomatic minefield. But especially cautious steps will be needed in the coming days, as the current and former presidents make unofficial visits to two superpowers that could determine the future of the island.

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Taiwan’s current president, Tsai Ing-wen (pictured), passed through the United States on her way to and from Central America. She is expected to meet with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on April 5 in Los Angeles. This will be the first time a Taiwanese president will meet with the speaker of the House of Representatives on U.S. soil.

Meanwhile, the opposition Kuomintang or former Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou kilometer, is on a 12-day trip in China. He traveled as an ordinary citizen, paid homage to his ancestors, and visited historical sites with Taiwanese college students. Jack Ma is the first former ROC president to visit the mainland since the Communist Party’s victory over the Kuomintang in 1949.

Both trips are subtle maneuvers at a politically charged time. Taiwan is an autonomous island of 24 million people over which China claims sovereignty. On March 26, Honduras established diplomatic relations with mainland China, leaving Taiwan with only 13 official allies. But it has the backing of the United States, which is helping to bolster the island’s defenses. As Sino-U.S. relations sour, Taiwan could become a flashpoint — as China did last year with military exercises around the island in response to a visit by then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Complicating matters is Taiwan’s presidential election in January. Ms Cai can no longer run, but she and the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (Democratic Progressive Party) is keen to assert Taiwan’s sovereignty — in part to impress domestic voters — while trying not to anger China.Mr Ma and kilometer Take a different tack. They want to show voters that they can deal with China without bowing to the Communist Party. Both are walking a fine line.

The fact that Tsai Ing-wen’s meeting with McCarthy is scheduled to take place in the United States rather than Taiwan already shows pragmatic thinking to avoid a crisis. But much will depend on what exactly Ms Cai said and did. She told reporters on March 29 that the trip would strengthen Taiwan’s relationship with “global partners for democracy” in the face of expanding authoritarianism.

The American voyage started from New York. Tsai Ing-wen arrived in New York on March 29, and delivered a speech and accepted the award at a private dinner hosted by the conservative think tank Hudson Institute the next day. This should not set any new precedent: she spoke at Columbia University during her last visit in 2019. She then visited Guatemala and Belize, the two remaining allies, before flying to Los Angeles for the most sensitive part of her trip, where she is expected to meet Trump McCarthy (and possibly other members of Congress) at the Reagan Presidential Library.

U.S. officials are sure to limit her activities, as they did with previous Taiwanese leaders. When they broke precedent in 1994 by allowing then-Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui to refuel in Hawaii, the planned airport reception was so frugal that he refused to leave his plane. The Clinton administration allowed Lee to visit his alma mater, Cornell University, in 1995, but canceled a press conference and a visit to New York City. Still, the Beijing government was incensed. It held military exercises and fired missiles near Taiwan, prompting the United States to send two aircraft carriers to the region.

diplomatic sigh

Since then, Taiwan’s leaders have made regular “stops” by the United States, but without such a violent reaction. Tsai has made six foreign trips, and U.S. officials have told her Chinese counterparts that this one will be similar to those. Even so, given recent tensions, China could easily be angry. In addition to the McCarthy meeting, another sensitive issue is whether Tsai Ing-wen will meet with top Democrats or government officials. China will also censor what she says in any speeches and how public those speeches are. It has filed a formal protest. On March 29, a spokesman for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office threatened to “resolutely counteract” Tsai Ing-wen if she met with Mr McCarthy, warning the US not to arrange for her to have contacts with government officials or to do anything to encourage Taiwan’s independence.

Even if the visit is low-key, China is likely to escalate operations that its warships and aircraft now routinely pass through the midpoint of the Taiwan Strait. Bonnie Glaser of the German Marshall Fund, a think-tank, said it could use a larger show of force if it deemed Ms Tsai’s remarks or activities particularly provocative.However, China also contributes to Democratic Progressive Party in elections in Taiwan.

Opinion polls show that threats from the mainland tend to strengthen Taiwanese identity and resistance to China. Surveys by different groups showed that despite China’s military aggression, a majority supported Ms Pelosi’s visit and welcomed a potential visit by Mr McCarthy. At the same time, recent opinion polls show that most people support easing cross-strait tensions and resuming exchanges.That is kilometer is promoting.

Ma’s trip was carefully crafted to avoid accusations of collusion. There he heads his foundation, and the itinerary focuses on cultural events. Xiao Xu, chairman of the foundation, once said that Ma Yun will not go to Beijing, but if mainland officials request a meeting, “the guests will follow the guests.” However, the trip had a clear political message: kilometer Can somehow engage with mainland authorities Democratic Progressive Party cannot.

The 72-year-old former Taiwanese leader saw a period of reconciliation with mainland China during his presidency from 2008 to 2016. He signed more than 20 cross-Strait agreements, allowing trade and tourism to flourish. In 2015, he met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Singapore and spoke of expanding cross-Strait relations on the basis of the “one China” (including Taiwan) consensus, although the two sides interpret the term differently.

Mr Ma and kilometer Trying to go back in time. “We all belong to the Chinese nation,” the former president said on March 28 in Nanjing. The two sides of the strait should join hands to “seek peace, avoid war, and revitalize” Chinahe said, using the term to refer to the ethnic Chinese, not China as a country. The emphasis on ethnic unity is unappealing to many Taiwanese voters, as Taiwan develops its own distinct cultural identity and the mainland under Xi Jinping’s leadership They became more authoritarian, and they increasingly disapproved of mainland China.

Ms Tsai’s stance since she was elected in 2016 has been to insist that mainland authorities must respect Taiwan’s separate, democratic system rather than treat it as a subordinate part of a Chinese nation. This view is popular among voters, but China cannot Accepted, China severed ties with Tsai Ing-wen’s government as punishment.

No matter who gets elected next year, Mr Xi will press for unification, says Chao Chun-shan, a Taiwanese policy advisor who helped plan the meeting between Mr Ma and Mr Xi in 2015 and visited China with a kilometer February delegation. Mr Zhao defined voters’ choice as one of “peace or war”.this kilometer He said tensions could be eased by promising the Communist Party that it would reject Taiwan’s independence — though it would not guarantee that China would cease its military, economic or diplomatic coercion in return.

this Democratic Progressive Party He once criticized Ma Yun’s trip as “embracing appeasement” and a “pawn” for the Communist Party to achieve the goal of unification. But it also worries about conflicts. If China manages to avoid overreacting to Ms Tsai’s visit, both parties in Taiwan may claim a victory for their pragmatism. If China responds with force, Taiwanese hope that goodwill can prevent war will diminish, regardless of which side is responsible.

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