[International Herald Tribune, France]



Taipei Times, Taiwan

We Taiwanese 'Must Risk Our Lives' for Freedom


"Why 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."


By Paul Lin [林保華]


February 10, 2010


Taiwan - Taipei Times - Original Article (English)

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.


RUSSIA TODAY NEWS VIDEO: Faceoff between U.S. and China over Taiwan weapons deal, Feb. 3, 00:05:51RealVideo

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 has intensified.


[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 silent.


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 and exchanges.


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.




Taiwan News: Inadequate U.S. Arms Deal Shows Failure of Taiwan President

Global Times, China: U.S. Arms Sale to Taiwan 'Not Necessarily Bad'

Die Tageszeitung, Germany: Taiwan Arms Sales a Gut Check for U.S.

Rceczpospolita, Poland: China Feels Her Oats at America's Expense

China Daily, China: U.S. Weapons Sale to Taiwan will 'Sour Ties'

Taiwan News, Taiwan: Taiwan Leader Welcomes American Weapons Deal


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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.


*Paul Lin is a political commentator.

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[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US February 10, 7:15pm]



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