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WATCH: Taiwan Insider, Jan 14, 2021

Radio Taiwan International
Date: 14 January, 2021
By: Paula Chao

[The presidents of the US and Taiwan can now meet!]

It was the boldest diplomatic shift in US-Taiwan ties in recent memory: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced over the weekend an end to restrictions the US placed on relations with Taiwan since 1978.

Former AIT Director William Stanton — who was the de facto US ambassador to Taiwan — talks about some of the rules that US diplomats had to follow, which are now null and void. He also shares the moving story of how he was the first in decades to raise the US flag at the American Institute in Taiwan.  [FULL  STORY]

Pompeo’s 11th-hour announcement and the future of U.S.-Taiwan engagement

Is the outgoing Trump administration simply trying to complicate things for the president-elect?

Date:  January 14, 2021
By: Jennifer Conrad

Illustration by Alex Santafé

On Saturday, outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo released a surprise announcement: the U.S. executive branch, including the State Department, would no longer abide by its self-imposed restrictions on government contact with Taiwan. Those restrictions, which have evolved since the U.S. broke formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 1979, had been made to “appease the Communist regime in Beijing,” Pompeo wrote in a press statement. By Monday, the first known meeting that Pompeo’s announcement paved the way for took place in the Netherlands, when Pete Hoekstra, the American ambassador, hosted Chen Hsing-hsing, Taiwan’s representative to the Netherlands, at the U.S. embassy in the Hague. Chen said on Twitter she was “extremely pleased and honored” to have visited the embassy for the first time in her diplomatic career.

The Trump administration’s approach to Taiwan, the self-governing island claimed by China, has been norm-breaking from the start, when Donald Trump accepted a congratulatory call from Taiwan President Tsai Ing-Wen (蔡英文 Cài Yīngwén) before taking office — the first contact between a Taiwan leader and sitting or incoming American head of state since 1979. Over the past four years, the United States has ramped up public shows of support for Taiwan, including billions of dollars in arms sales and high-profile visits, most recently Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar’s trip last August. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft was scheduled to visit Taiwan this week, but her trip, like all State Department travel for the remainder of the Trump administration, was abruptly canceled on Tuesday — to the relief of many in Taiwan. Instead, she met with President Tsai by video link on Wednesday.

“Executive branch agencies should consider all ‘contact guidelines’ regarding relations with Taiwan previously issued by the Department of State under authorities delegated to the Secretary of State to be null and void,” according to Pompeo’s announcement. “Additionally, any and all sections of the Foreign Affairs Manual or Foreign Affairs Handbook that convey authorities or otherwise purport to regulate executive branch engagement with Taiwan via any entity other than the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) are also hereby voided.”

Taiwan’s NCSIST begins 2nd wave of missile tests

National Chung Shan Institute of Science and Technology holds 2nd round of missile launches without altitude restriction

Taiwan News
Date: 2021/01/14
0000By: Kelvin Chen, Taiwan News, Staff Writer

Hsiung Feng IIE missile. (NCSIST photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The National Chung Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST) on Thursday (Jan. 14) began its second wave of long-range missile trial launches.

The NCSIST had previously announced it would fire long-range missiles before the Lunar New Year. The first wave occurred Jan. 7-8, while the second wave is taking place Thursday and Friday (Jan. 15). The third wave will be on Jan. 18-19.

The launch times and areas restricted will be the same both days, as only one type of missile is being tested. The established danger zone is 36 miles off the coast of Taiwan, stretching from Green Island in the west to Orchid Island in the east and reaching northward to waters off Yilan County.

The maximum altitude of the missiles is set at “infinitely high,” CNA reported.   [FULL  STORY]

Lifting of U.S. restrictions gives Taiwan ‘free country status’: Krach

Focus Taiwan
Date: 01/14/2021
By: Y.F. Low

From left to right: U.S. Under Secretary of State Keith Krach, President Tsai Ing-wen and TSMC founder Morris Chang (Source:

Taipei, Jan. 14 (CNA) U.S. Under Secretary of State Keith Krach said Wednesday the recent lifting of restrictions on contacts between American and Taiwanese officials by the U.S. government gives Taiwan "free country status."

In a tweet, Krach praised Taiwan as "a great partner, a great friend & magnificent role model of democracy" and said the bond between the U.S. and Taiwan is "based on common values."

"@SecPompeo orders lifting of self-imposed restrictions with Taiwan by US Govt giving it Free Country status," he added, referring to an announcement on Jan. 9 by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that Washington was lifting restrictions on contacts between American and Taiwanese officials, which have been in place since Washington cut ties with Taipei in favor of Beijing in 1979.

In the same tweet, Krach also posted a photo of his meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) during his visit to Taiwan last year and shared the link to a news report titled "The Catalyst for Stronger U.S.-Taiwan Ties: How Under Secretary of State Krach Became 'Taiwan's Number One Friend.'"    [FULL  STORY]

US stands by Taiwan, Craft tells Tsai

PILLARS OF DEMOCRACY: US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft posted online after the virtual meeting that Taiwan should be able to share its successes in global venues

Taipei Times
Date: Jan 15, 20217..
By:. Lin Chia-nan / Staff reporter

A screen grab shows President Tsai Ing-wen, top, and US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft meeting virtually yesterday.
Photo: US Mission to the UN via AP

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft yesterday held a virtual meeting, during which Tsai described Taiwan as a “force for good” that deserves a place on the world stage, while Craft reaffirmed Washington’s support for Taiwan’s international participation.

The virtual talk was held at about 11am, after Craft’s trip to Taiwan was abruptly canceled. She had been scheduled to meet with Tsai in person at the Presidential Office in Taipei yesterday morning as part of a three-day visit to Taiwan.

On Tuesday, the US Department of State canceled all of its planned trips, citing a need to focus on the transition to US president-elect Joe Biden’s team.

The virtual meeting was first reported by Chinese-language online news outlet Up Media and followed by three consecutive posts on Twitter from Craft.    [FULL  STORY]

Bolton: US should have lifted restrictions on Taiwan ties long ago

Radio Taiwan International
Date: 13 January, 2021
By: Natalie Tso

John Bolton (Photo: AP, TPG Images)

Former White House National Security Adviser John Bolton says that the US should have lifted self-imposed restrictions on its relations with Taiwan a long time ago. He was speaking to Foreign Press Association President Ian Williams on Tuesday about US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's recent decision to lift those restrictions.

Bolton said that the restrictions the US put on diplomats interacting with Taiwanese officials were inappropriate. They go back to when the US and Taiwan severed diplomatic ties in 1979. When the US established diplomatic relations with China, US President Jimmy Carter had guidelines written up for US diplomats’ interactions with Taiwanese officials because Beijing was sensitive about these interactions.    [FULL  STORY]

Capitol Riot Optics Seen as Reason Behind Scrapping of Two High-Profile State Department Trips

Voice of America
Date: January 13, 2021
By: VOA News

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Capitol Riot Optics Seen as Reason Behind Scrapping of Two High-Profile State Department Trips
By VOA News
January 13, 2021 02:09 PM
FILE – In this Sept. 21, 2020, file photo, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft speaks during a news conference at…
Kelly Craft, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, was due to arrive in Taiwan on a three-day visit that included meetings with President Tsai Ing-wen and other senior officials.

The abrupt cancelation of all State Department travel this week has upended two high-profile trips — a precedent-breaking visit to Taiwan by Kelly Craft, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and a final visit to Europe by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Ambassador Craft was due to arrive in Taiwan Wednesday on a three-day visit that included meetings with President Tsai Ing-wen and other senior officials. Chinese officials had demanded the cancelation of the trip, which would have ended Washington’s self-imposed ban on such high-level contacts with the self-governing island which is claimed by Beijing.
Pompeo, meanwhile, had been scheduled to travel to Luxembourg and Brussels, where he planned meet with EU leaders.
All that was abruptly halted Tuesday when State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus announced the department was canceling all official travel this week, citing the transition to the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden, who takes office next week.

Taiwan High Court confirms life sentence for dismemberment of Canadian

Appeals are still possible against prison sentences for four suspects

Taiwan News
Date: 2021/01/13
By: Matthew Strong, Taiwan News, Staff Writer

Oren Shlomo Mayer at the Taiwan High Court for Wednesday’s verdict  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Taiwan High Court on Wednesday (Jan. 13) upheld the life sentence of an Israeli-American citizen convicted for the gruesome murder of a Canadian resident over a dispute related to drug dealing.

Appeals are still possible against the sentence of Oren Shlomo Mayer and against shorter sentences for three other suspects that were also upheld, CNA reported.

Mayer suspected in August 2018 that the Canadian, Sanjay Ryan Ramgahan, had betrayed their illicit operations to the police. He called him to a riverside park in the New Taipei City's Yonghe District, where he killed and dismembered him. He then threw his remains into the river with the help of another American, Ewart Odane Bent, who was sentenced to 12 years and six months in jail.

American Jason Eugene Hobbie was sentenced to 18 months and Taiwanese-Canadian Wu Hsuan (吳宣) to six for aiding and abetting the murder. They reportedly set off fireworks on the opposite side of the river as a distraction.    [FULL  STORY]

CORONAVIRUS/CECC eases rules for discharge of COVID patients on isolation wards

Focus Taiwan
Date: 01/13/2021
By: Chen Wei-ting and Chiang Yi-ching

A negative pressure ward. CNA file photo

Taipei, Jan. 13 (CNA) Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said Wednesday it was revising its medical criteria for the discharge of COVID-19 patients in negative pressure isolation rooms in hospital, based on new scientific evidence.

The new evidence shows that a patient is highly unlikely to spread COVID-19 more than 10 days after they first developed symptoms and if their polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for the disease shows a cycle threshold (CT) level of over 30, the CECC said.

Scientists in Taiwan have been unable to cultivate COVID-19 viruses from COVID-19 patients with a CT level of 34 or above, which indicates that such patients are not likely to be contagious, according to CECC advisor Chang Shan-chwen (張上淳).

If a patient, therefore, has passed the 10-day mark and has not had any symptoms for at least three days, they will be discharged from their negative pressure isolation room following two consecutive tests with a CT level of 34 or above, or one negative test and one test with a CT level of 34 or above, the CECC said.    [FULL  STORY]

Taiwan key to curbing China: US report

‘ASSERTIVE STEPS’: The report says that the US should enable Taiwan to construct asymmetric defense capabilities that would allow it to engage China on its own terms

Taipei Times
Date: Jan 14, 2021
By: Jonathan Chin / Staff writer, with Bloomberg and CNA

U.S. National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien speaks during the turnover ceremony of defense articles, at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines, November 23, 2020.
Photo: Reuters

US President Donald Trump’s administration on Tuesday declassified a report that casts the defense of Taiwan as critical to the Indo-Pacific strategy of checking China’s ascent, Bloomberg reported yesterday.

“US Strategic Framework for the Indo-Pacific” has governed the US’ strategic response to China since Trump approved it in February 2018, Bloomberg reported, citing a statement by US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien.

“Beijing is increasingly pressuring Indo-Pacific nations to subordinate their freedom and sovereignty to a ‘common destiny’ envisioned by the Chinese Communist Party [CCP],” O’Brien was cited as saying.

The report assumes that China would “take increasingly assertive steps to compel unification with Taiwan,” Bloomberg quoted the document as saying.    [FULL  STORY]