TOC Global Taiwan Brief, Vol. 7, Issue 11 (2022)

Adrienne Wu's picture

(This issue was originally published on the Global Taiwan Institute's website and the full articles are available at:

Editor's Column
President Biden and Incremental Clarity on US Commitment to Taiwan’s Defense

By: Russell Hsiao

President Joseph Biden stirred the Taiwan-watching community—once again—with recent comments indicating that the United States would come to Taiwan’s defense if China used military force to invade the island. In the latest of a string of similar statements made by the 46th president—and amid growing concerns about China’s “acute” military threats to Taiwan and the broader implications of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine—Biden responded unequivocally in the affirmative when asked whether he would intervene militarily to defend Taiwan. The clarity of his response—”yes […] that’s the commitment we made”—was uncritically examined by both its supporters and critics. Most interpretations either simply applauded or derided the president for essentially abandoning the longstanding US stance of “strategic ambiguity” for “strategic clarity” on whether the United States would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion. Yet, this is an inaccurate reading of President Biden’s statement, as well as the longstanding elasticity of US commitment to Taiwan’s defense in the absence of a defense treaty. Despite being clear that the United States would intervene militarily in the event of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, the president did not offer an unconditional, explicit guarantee or provide precise details of what this would entail. Nevertheless, his statements do suggest that as China’s military threats against Taiwan become more acute, greater clarity in the US commitment to come to Taiwan’s defense will be necessary to respond to the growing threat.

The California Church Shooter and His Connections to China’s United Front System
By: John Dotson

Between the horrific massacres that occurred on May 14 in Buffalo and on May 24 in Uvalde, Texas, another incident on Sunday, May 15 provided yet another entry in America’s tragic history of mass shootings. On that day, David Wen-wei Chou (周文偉), a 68-year-old naturalized US citizen of Taiwanese-Chinese heritage, opened fire on congregants at the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church in the town of Laguna Woods, California (Orange County, greater Los Angeles area), killing one person and wounding five more. After arriving at the church following a long drive from his residence in the Las Vegas area, Chou reportedly chained the doors shut, super-glued locks, and placed improvised incendiary devices about the building, before opening fire on the mostly elderly attendees at a church luncheon. The shooting rampage could have had a much higher toll, were it not for the heroic actions of Dr. John Cheng (鄭達志)—who reportedly tackled the shooter, and was himself fatally shot—and other attendees who subdued and restrained the suspect.
How Might US Policy Change in the Course of a Taiwan Crisis?
By: Michael Mazza

“For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power.” An unscripted remark, uttered by President Joseph Biden at the end of a major presidential speech in Poland, had observers wondering if the United States was about to embark on a major escalation of the war in Ukraine. Was an explicit policy of regime change in the offing? That concern turned out to be much ado about nothing, but American goals have nevertheless evolved since the start of the Russian invasion. This is natural: in war, political goals drive strategy and battlefield developments affect political aims, in a constant feedback loop.
An Assessment of the Recent Chinese Incursion over the Taiwan Strait’s Median Line
By: Thomas J. Shattuck

On May 10, a Chinese WZ-10 attack helicopter made headlines for crossing the centerline of the Taiwan Strait. This centerline incursion was the first to occur since September 2020, when then-Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Keith Krach visited Taipei to attend the funeral of Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) and to discuss the launch of the US-Taiwan Economic Prosperity Partnership Dialogue (EPPD). During the September 2020 incursion, close to 40 aircraft crossed the centerline while conducting a live-fire drill. That provocation was promptly condemned by the United States, and no Chinese military aircraft crossed the centerline afterwards—until May 2022. During the latest incident, two KA-28 anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters also flew into Taiwan’s southwestern air defense identification zone (ADIZ), which is the regular location for such incursions.

An Interview with TAICCA on Taiwan’s Cultural and Creative Industries and the Future of Taiwan’s Soft Power
By: Adrienne Wu

Over the past few decades, the idea of governments being able to take advantage of soft power—especially in regards to the ability of pop culture to showcase a country’s culture and values to foreign audiences to attract other nations—has gained popularity. Soft power theorist Joseph S. Nye consistently refers to the role Hollywood plays in spreading American political and cultural values abroad, and more recently South Korea has been able to gain international visibility with K-pop and productions such as Parasite and Squid Game. Taipei has also been taking note of these successes and in 2019, the Taiwan government established the Taiwan Creative Content Agency (TAICCA, 文化內容策進院), a cultural intermediary intended to act as a link between the government and private industries to help nurture domestic creatives and to find ways to popularize them on a global scale. While soft power may not speak as loudly as hard power does, cultural and creative exports provide Taiwan additional ways of connecting with the global community. In the following interview, GTI asked TAICCA representatives about their role in branding Taiwan and the challenges that exist when exporting Taiwanese culture abroad.

* The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Global Taiwan Institute.

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