‘Message to Compatriots in Taiwan’ changes status quo: U.S. senator

WASHINGTON (CNA) — U.S. Senator Cory Gardner said on Jan. 9 that Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) recent speech on Taiwan changes the status quo across the Taiwan Strait and is a warning to the United States.

When asked by Taiwan media about Xi’s Jan. 2 address after a seminar held by a Washington-based think tank, Gardner, chairman of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity, also said the U.S. should adhere to its commitment to Taiwan.

Gardner noted that the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act of 2018 contains significant language dedicated to the U.S. relationship with Taiwan, including provisions to ensure U.S. arms sales and facilitate high-level visits to Taiwan from the U.S. and “We will continue to pursue those commitments and protections … Our commitment to our relationship with Taiwan is stronger than ever.”

Asked whether he will encourage President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to visit Washington, Gardner did not give a response, saying only that he met with Tsai when she made transit through Los Angeles last year, and he hopes similar arrangements can be made in the future.

Gardner had tweeted on Xi’s recent Taiwan policy speech and Tsai’s response, saying that he will soon re-submit the Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative Act (TAIPEI Act) to Congress.

It authorizes the U.S. Department of State to downgrade U.S. relations with any government that takes adverse action regarding Taiwan, including suspending or altering foreign assistance, such as military funding.

Xi’s speech on Taiwan marked the 40th anniversary of a message Beijing sent to Taiwan in 1979 calling for unification and an end to military confrontation.

In the speech, Xi defined the “1992 consensus” as “the two sides of the strait belonging to one China and working together to seek the unification of the nation.” The “one country, two systems” formula is the best approach to achieving unification, he said.

In response to his speech, President Tsai said she has never accepted the so-called “1992 consensus” and will never do so since that phrase has been defined by China as the ‘one country, two systems’ mechanism which leaves no room for interpretation.

By Chiang Chin-yeh and Evelyn Kao