Second term begins . . .
As the world continues to battle COVID-19, Taiwan took cautious measures to hold President Tsai Ing-wen's second presidential inauguration ceremony on May 20. In her address, Tsai firmly rejected the ‘One Country Two Systems,’ model which governs Hong Kong, as an option for Taiwan, but also emphasized “peace, parity, democracy, and dialogue” in cross-strait relationship with China. Congratulations were also sent to President Tsai from the international community, including a message from U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who emphasized that the U.S. considers Taiwan to be a “force for good in the world and a reliable partner.” China’s response to the inauguration was to state that “reunification is a historical inevitably of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese people,” adding that it will not leave space for “Taiwan independence separatist activities.”
Taiwan not included in WHO meeting . . .
Although Taiwan has been largely successful in containing the COVID-19 outbreak, the island was unsuccessful in gaining observer status and was ultimately excluded from this week’s World Health Organization (WHO) meetings. The U.S. and Japan led a coalition of countries, including Canada, to support Taiwan’s participation at the World Health Assembly which took place on Monday. Despite the support, Taiwan’s Foreign Minister, Joseph Wu, indicated that Taiwan was not invited to the meeting, and was forced to push Taiwan’s WHO bid to a later date this year. Taiwan’s status at the WHO was revoked in 2017, a year after President Tsai started her first term in office, due to Beijing’s pressure.
A rocky term ahead . . .
The WHO episode is only one of many in the ongoing tensions between Taipei and Beijing. Leading up to President Tsai’s inauguration, the Chinese military held air and naval exercises close to the island, attempting to send a stark warning to Taiwan. Rising geopolitical tension between Beijing and Washington adds another layer of complexity to the already-strained cross-strait relationship. In March, Washington passed the Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative (TAIPEI) Act, which aims to strengthen Taiwan’s diplomatic relationships and partnerships around the world. As President Tsai begins her second term, cross-strait relations are likely to remain a challenging issue for her government in addition to the global pandemic.
- Al Jazeera: In shadow of coronavirus, China steps up maneuvers near Taiwan
- CNBC: Taiwan ‘disappointed and angry’ about being excluded from WHO meeting, says it is developing its own coronavirus vaccine
- The Straits Times: Taiwan’s Tsai Ing-wen rejects ‘one country, two systems’; China says reunification a historical necessity