US to increasingly highlight Taiwan’s national identity: analysts

CNA file photo

TAIPEI (CNA) — The United States is expected to help Taiwan highlight its national identity more actively during President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) second four-year term but “dramatic breakthroughs” are unlikely, political analysts in Taiwan said Wednesday.

Tsai was sworn in for her second term as president of the Republic of China, Taiwan’s formal name, on Wednesday.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sent a congratulatory message Tuesday in which he addressed her as “president.”

“As we look toward the future, I am confident that, with President Tsai at the helm, our partnership with Taiwan will continue to flourish,” Pompeo said in the statement.

Pompeo is the highest-ranking U.S. official to congratulate a Taiwan president since 1979 when the U.S. switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing, Tung Li-wen (董立文), a researcher at Taiwan Thinktank told CNA.

Taiwan-U.S. relations advanced at a fast pace under Tsai’s first four-year term, Tung said, adding that barring catastrophic events, the two countries are expected to continue furthering their substantive relationship.

Asked whether Beijing would seek to exert more pressure on Taiwan in response, Tung said this has been the case in the past, and often resulted in countermeasures from the U.S.

“Given this cycle, the cross-strait relationship will naturally drift while Taiwan-U.S. relations get closer,” he said, suggesting that Beijing should ask itself whether that is the outcome it wants.

Meanwhile, Lee Che-chuan (李哲全), a senior researcher at the Institute for National Defense and Security Research, also expects steady progress in Taiwan-U.S. relations over the next four years.

However, Lee added that Taiwan should not expect any “dramatic breakthroughs,” such as re-establishing official ties with the U.S.

Nevertheless, he believes that Washington will gradually bring pressure to bear on Beijing in a wide range of fields from trade, to the economy and technology to democratic values, while gradually increasing its support for Taiwan’s national identity.

This trend is evidenced by U.S. enactment of the TAIPEI Act in March and continued deliberation of the Taiwan Assurance Act, he suggested.

As Taiwan-U.S. relations get warmer, Lee cautioned Taiwan’s government to prepare for Beijing’s response as Chinese leaders seek to ease internal political and economic pressures created by the COVID-19 outbreak.