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TEST THE WATERS:
Making considerations public a day after Biden-Xi phone call indicates US is testing China’s reaction, think tank chief says

  • By Wu Su-wei and William Hetherington / Journalist, with editor

A Financial Time report that the United States is considering allowing Taiwan to change the name of the office of the economic and cultural representative of Taipei in Washington to bear the name of Taiwan, stressed Washington’s two-pronged approach to China, said a researcher yesterday.

Friday’s report said Washington may allow the nation to change the name of the office to Taiwan Representative Office.

The report came after US President Joe Biden spoke to Chinese President Xi Jinping () by telephone on Thursday for the first time since February.

Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times

A reading of the White House appeal indicated that the two leaders discussed the responsibility of the two nations to ensure that competition does not escalate into conflict.

Speaking at a symposium on the state of relations between Taiwan and the United States on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001, the director general of the Taiwan International Strategic Study Society, Wang Kun-yi (), said Biden hardened China’s stance during his soft, tender appearance.

When Chinese and US officials met in Alaska in March, the two sides entered the meeting with daggers drawn, resulting in a tense meeting, which could have prevented US Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman to meet Xi on his trip to China in July, and instead met Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (), he said.

Bidens’ call with Xi was sort of a breakthrough, he said, adding that the Financial Times report was therefore surprising.

Making the plan public at this point suggests Biden wants to test Xis’ reaction, Wang Kun-yi said.

However, judging by China’s overwhelming response to a proposed Taiwan office in Lithuania, Beijing is unlikely to simply let a name change happen without protest, he said.

A name change would likely result in a suspension of U.S.-China cooperation and could also lead to skirmishes in the East China Sea and the Taiwan Strait, which would serve to test Washington’s resolve to help Taiwan in the event of a conflict with China, he said. noted.

National Dong Hwa University professor Shih Cheng-feng () said that although Biden sees US-China relations as his administration’s biggest challenge, a military conflict between the two countries is not inevitable. .

If the United States and China came to a tacit agreement on the matter, the United States could maintain stability and security at home and abroad, although Washington would also not give in to China in the region. Indo-Pacific, Shih said.

However, looking at how things turned out in Afghanistan, it seems Taiwan’s best course of action would be to help itself, he said.

Separately yesterday, the International Affairs Department of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) said the new office name should instead contain the nation’s official name, the Republic of China.

However, the KMT does not believe that President Tsai Ing-wen () would consider such a proposal, he said.

The use of Taipei in the names of representative offices might offer advantages over the use of Taiwan, as the former is the name of the country’s capital, while the latter may legitimize Beijing’s point of view according to which Taiwan is a Chinese province, he said.

The government’s priority should be to sign trade deals and get Washington to support Taiwan’s participation in international organizations, instead of getting involved in ideological disputes over independence or unification, he said. added.

Additional reports from Shih Hsiao-kuang

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