Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Will the Taiwan/US Split Worsen after Taiwan's "Provocations?"

Will the Taiwan/US Split Worsen after Taiwan's "Provocations?"
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
December 26, 2007

Comment: With the following editorial, the China Times has hit a new low.

The China Times can no longer see the Republic of China forest for the "nativist" Taiwan trees.

With the following editorial, the China Times is no longer a member of the "pro reunification media." It is no longer a member of the "Pan Blue media." It is no longer even a member of the "Pale Blue media."

It is now a de facto member of the Pale Green media.

It is time for the China Times to apply the DPP's "rectification of names" campaign to itself. It is time for the "China Times" to change its name to the "Taiwan Times."

Will the Taiwan/US Split Worsen after Taiwan's "Provocations?"
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
December 26, 2007

If you had predicted four or five years ago that the US would soon be constantly reprimanding Taiwan, probably no one on either the Taiwan side or the US side would have believed you. But today the US is criticizing Taiwan in harsher and harsher terms, through spokespersons of higher and higher rank. Yet Taiwan seems inured to such criticisms, and merely criticizes right back. If this trend continues, will Taiwan/US relations undergo some sort of fundamental change?

Just before Christmas, at a year end press conference, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice criticized the "Plebiscite to Join the UN" campaign as a "provocative policy" that "unnecessarily raises tensions in the Taiwan strait, and it promises no real benefits for the people of Taiwan on the international stage." This is how the US is suppressing Taiwan's moves to join the UN, in private and in public, from bottom to top. Now its highest ranking officials have spoken out. That may not be the end of the matter. Whether Bush Junior will scold Taiwan remains to be seen. But the US government's diplomatic tune has already been set, from top to bottom, from ruling party to opposition party.

When Chen Shui-bian immediately lashed back, no one was surprised. After all, when it comes to elections, nothing matters more than victory, and Chen regards the Plebiscite to Join the UN as a panacea that guarantees victory. Therefore no matter how the US might rant and rave, no one is in a position to slam on the brakes and prevent the Plebiscite to Join the UN Express from derailing. Furthermore, the US is worried that Chen Shui-bian's next step following his Plebiscite to Join the UN is a declaration of Taiwan indepdendence. Beijing is worried that after the Plebiscite to Join the UN, the Democratic Progressive Party will officially move towards de jure Taiwan independence. None of these scenarios are part of the average persons' plans for the future. The average person thinks the Plebiscite to Join the UN is a long way off from Taiwan independence. After all, the ruling regime is not holding a Plebiscite on Taiwan independence. What's the US so worried about? What's Beijing getting so upset about?

This gap in perception is the result of Chen Shui-bian's total loss of credibility. Once the US lost confidence in Chen, it decided he was crazy enough to do do anything. including harming the people on Taiwan. Chen Shui-bian, on the other hand, saw that Taiwan's geopolitical and ideological value was something hard for the US to relinquish. Washington had no intention of watching idly as Beijing broke through the US's strategic line of containment in the western Pacific.

Therefore no matter how much trouble Taiwan makes, no matter how angry Washington gets, no matter how loudly Washington rants, it cannot allow its own national interests to be harmed. But waging a war with Beijing over Taiwan also harms the US national interest. Iraq alone has given America a splitting headache. If the standoff in the Taiwan Strait worsens, no matter what, the US is going to feel as if it is under seige. That's why it is more alarmed than the people of Taiwan.

In any event, the ruling DPP regime has decided to bet the farm. Ever since Chen Shui-bian's provocative brinksmanship racheted up cross straits tensions by manipulating reunification vs. independence issues, the DPP has gradually forced the US to take Beijing's side. The US government usually does not pay much attention to public opinion on Taiwan. It has underestimated the political impact of an increasingly Taiwan-centric public consciousness. It lacks a farsighted cross straits policy. It routinely resorts to ad hoc remedies. When something goes wrong, it always wants Taiwan to compromise and make concessions. If it doesn't hear any protests, it assumes everything is fine. As a result the public on Taiwan feels betrayed and less willing to trust the US.

The hidden concern is that the public on Taiwan will no longer trust the US, reducing US influence. The US's ability to control the Taiwan Straits will then be diminished. This will put the US's Taiwan Straits policy in a whole new light. It may not be entirely different from the past, but it will no longer be the same as it was. So far the US does not seem to be aware of this problem. It assumes that after election fever dies down, US/Taiwan/China relations will return to normal. As always, the US sees only what's in front of its nose.

Another problem is that differences between Taiwan and the US have arisen that appear to be irreconcilable. With democratization and the election process, a Taiwanese political consciousness is gradually taking root and growing. Within the framework of this new national consciousness, the continued pursuit of sovereignty, dignity, and international breathing space is something that any democratic country will pursue. But when Taiwan demonstrates this desire, it inevitably bumps up against a ceiling imposed by the international community and the US.

From the maintenance of security to democracy and freedom, the US has always been Taiwan's biggest backer. The US has continually encouraged Taiwan. How will it explain to Taiwan that Taiwan's democracy can only develop to a certain degree? That it cannot expect to enjoy the same status and dignity as other nations? To the people of Taiwan, this is unacceptable discrimination and hypocrisy. The disappointment and dissatisfaction felt by the Taiwan public is not confined to the issue of plebiscites. Taiwan's national growth and national interests, already appear to be in opposition with the US's.

But the US appears to be indifferent to this fundamental, far reaching problem. This being the case, if the storm over the plebiscite passes without incident, relations between Taiwan and the US will remain troubled. Compared to the Middle East and other regions, the cross straits issue has more room to maneuveur. But if the US is unable to formulate a farsighted cross straits policy, and procrastinates due to inertia, then Taiwan/US/China relations will remain mired in conflict.

中國時報  2007.12.26





 所以台灣再怎麼無理取鬧,美國氣歸氣、罵歸罵,還是不能因此讓自己的國家利益受到傷害。但若說要為了台灣而和中共開戰,同樣傷害美國的國家利益。美國人光是一個伊拉克就傷透腦筋,台海這個僵局再發展下去,怎麼看,美國都覺得危機四伏,所以比台灣人還心驚膽戰。 所以台灣再怎麼無理取鬧,美國氣歸氣、罵歸罵,還是不能因此讓自己的國家利益受到傷害。但若說要為了台灣而和中共開戰,同樣傷害美國的國家利益。美國人光是一個伊拉克就傷透腦筋,台海這個僵局再發展下去,怎麼看,美國都覺得危機四伏,所以比台灣人還心驚膽戰。






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