doesn't the U.S. reclaim its founding ideals of freedom, democracy, human
rights and rule of law. … Taiwan shouldn't pin its hopes on the U.S. To build a
completely independent state, we must rely on ourselves. In the face of
authoritarian China, we must all be determined to risk our lives."
Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou: In what may be the hardest job in the democratic world, he must
accept American military aid to deter an invasion by the mainland, while
protecting the interests of 23 million Taiwanese, many of whom do business in authoritarian China.
Sino-U.S. relations have been
undergoing a change. Although President Barack Obama adopted a low-key approach
during his visit to China last November, in December, Beijing humiliated him at
the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. This forced Washington to adopt
a tougher line- and Washington has used the spat between Google and China as a
point of departure. U.S. transit stopovers by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) on his way to and from Latin America and America's announcement of weapons
sale package to Taiwan both involve what Beijing calls its "core
interests," and as a result, tension between China and the United States
[Editor's Note: The isolation
imposed on Taiwan is so severe, that Taiwan's president is not permitted as a
matter of course to land on American territory. And since special permission is
required, whenever the State Department permits Taiwan's democratically-elected
head of state to land, it is seen as an act of U.S. defiance of China.]
It's obvious that the main
reason the U.S. gave President Ma such a warm reception this time is Washington's
concern that his incompetence and isolation would accelerate his surrender to
China. Washington wanted to show its support for Ma. If China didn't protest,
the same kind of reception would likely have been given to future Taiwan presidents.
Since it did protest, Taiwanese understand that China is unlikely to respect
Taiwan, regardless of how President Ma cozies up to Beijing.
As for the American weapons package,
Washington is simply granting a request submitted by the Democratic Progressive
Party (DPP) during its years in power - a package vetoed by the-then opposition,
the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).
However, the weapons deal is
a watered-down package that the United States first discussed with Beijing, a
move that greatly diminished the Taiwan Relations Act.
Sadly, President Ma seems so
pleased with himself, that it's no wonder DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) is frustrated by his shallowness.
Although the United States is
making concessions in light of Sino-U.S. relations, Beijing's series of
reactions and retaliatory measures leave little room for maneuver. The only sign
that there might be some leeway is the fact that China's top leadership has remained
Chinese retaliation has taken
four forms: First, planned visits by military officials between China and the U.S.
have been suspended. Second, other Sino-U.S. military exchanges have been
postponed. Third, the next round of annual defense consultations on strategic
security at the deputy minister level, multilateral arms control and
non-proliferation have been postponed. Fourth, U.S. companies participating in
the Taiwan weapons sale face sanctions.
The first two measures are
relatively insignificant. In light of Beijing's hostility to the U.S. as well
as the American military advantage, China benefits the most from these visits
The third measure means an
end to Chinese cooperation with the U.S. on the issue of North Korean and
Iranian nuclear weapons development and terrorism. But Beijing already supports
these two countries, so Washington's expectations should in any case be low.
Perhaps it's a good thing that Beijing is showing its true colors.
As to the fourth point, certain
military products are purchased by China from U.S. firms because it can't
produce them itself. In fact, it would in any case be better for both national
security and world peace if the U.S. would stop selling these items to Beijing.
Ideally, other Western nations wouldn't sell such items to China, either.
Unfortunately, the concern of manufacturers about profits make that difficult. Would
China retaliate economically? If it lost the U.S. market, chaos would ensue.
In regard to Sino-U.S.
confrontation, whoever backs off first will be considered the “paper tiger.”
The United States doesn't usually pursue defeated enemies, but give China an
inch, and its rogue nature ensures that it will take a mile. This has been clear
in the development of Sino-U.S. relations over the past half century. As
Washington constantly backs down, Beijing continuously elevates the Taiwan
issue, in recent years to a "core interest," and this may come to impact
other spheres of American influence. Why doesn't the U.S. reclaim its founding
ideals of freedom, democracy, human rights and rule of law - as its core
interests? In decades past, America offered protection to the KMT dictatorship;
but today, Taiwan has transformed into a democracy. What kind of country would
the U.S. be if it sold Taiwan out to China now?
In an interview with the China
News Service on January 6, Chinese Rear Admiral Yang Yi (楊毅) said that it was time for China to lay down guidelines
rules for the U.S. Yang has also criticized Ma. By allowing a low-level
official like Yang to insult President Ma, Beijing is behaving like a bully.
Does Ma still believe that “blood is thicker than water”?
Nevertheless, Taiwan shouldn't
pin its hopes on the U.S. To build a completely independent state, we must rely
on ourselves. In the face of authoritarian China, we must all be determined to
risk our lives. To achieve this, we must consolidate domestic unity, including
the pan-green camp and the mid and lower levels of the pan-blue camp.
Otherwise, there is no hope for Taiwan.
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