King Pu-tsung Will Maintain Balance between Taipei, Beijing, and Washington
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
September 21, 2012
Summary: The key problem on Taiwan today is that Taipei and Washington lack a common language, and Taipei and Beijing have yet to establish sufficient trust. For the Ma administration, national security, cross-Strait, and foreign relations are all under the control of "insiders." Amidst all the euphoria, it must not lose sight of its own identity. We believe King Pu-tsung will maintain the balance between Taipei, Beijing, and Washington.
Full Text below:
Cross-Strait, foreign affairs, and national security personnel have undergone a major reshuffle. Some say it is a dream team. Some say it is stretched to the limit. Some say it is a well-oiled machine. Some say it is a self-contradiction.
Most skepticism concerns whether the new personnel will upgrade or degrade the balance between Taipei, Beijing, and Washington.
As we all know, the triangular relationship between Taipei, Beijing, and Washington is the key to Taiwan's survival and development. The framework affects everything from national idenity and constitutional allegiance, to cross-Strait relations, diplomatic relations, economic development, and internal Blue vs. Green coopetition.
During the Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian eras, this triangular relationship involved Washington influencing what Beijing would do, Taipei and Beijing tearing each other apart, and finally Taipei and Washington finding themselves at odds with each other. In 2008 the Ma administration came to power. The situation changed. Beijing determined what Beijing would do. Taipei and Beijing successfully promoted peaceful cross-Strait development. Taipei/Washington relations improved as well. Beijing influenced what Washington would do. The current personnel changes have attracted much attention. The foremost question has been how they will affect the triangular relationship between Taipei, Beijing, and Washington.
King Pu-tsung is now the ROC representative to the US. He is the key to the entire roster. Sources close to King Pu-tsung say that his appointment means the Ma administration sees Washington and Beijing as two major powers who are of equal importance. It means Taipei will not lean completely in the direction of Beijing. Green Camp leader Julian J. Kuo said Ma Ying-jeou's personnel appointments are "pro-US, and alienate [Mainland] China." Kuo thinks that "[Mainland] China will surely be furious." Both the Blue and Green camps have weighed in on the impact of King Pu-tsung's appointment on the triangular relationship between Taipei, Beijing, and Washington. Debate over the current personnel changes focus on precisely this.
King Pu-tsung said the next year or two are critical for Taipei/Washington relations. We are about to initiate TIFA and TPP. We are about to join the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization). But the next few years are also critical to cross-Strait relations. ECFA is in advanced negotiations. Taipei is gaining greater international breathing room. It looks forward to cooperation with the new government in Beijing. Political issues may arise. This will be a difficult test for the new administration. This is a critical moment. Is this the appropriate time to declare that "Taiwan will not lean completely in the direction of the Mainland?" Was the Ma administration's intent merely to dispel the notion that "Taiwan is completely leaning in the direction of the Mainland?" If so, then wouldn't appointing King Pu-tsung as ROC Representative to the United States be a clear case of overkill?
Actually, the notion that "Taiwan is completely leaning in the direction of the Mainland" is a label the DPP attached to the Ma adminstration, It is a phony issue. Even the United States does not believe it. Therefore why would the Ma administration appoint King Pu-tsung as ROC representative to the US merely to dispel this phony rumor?
Let us look ahead. We have long reiterated that the first challenge Taiwan faces is the combination of FTA, TIFA, and TPP. This requires assistance from Washington. More importantly, it requires cooperation between Beijing and Washington. Washington's assistance and Beijing's resistance are all part of the framework. Washington is no longer be able to determine what Beijing will do. Beijing now determines what Beijing will do. If we can influence Beijing, Beijing may influence Washington. Perhaps King Pu-tsung as ROC Representative to the US, will be able to increase this influence.
King Pu-tsung's most distinctive characteristic is his symbolic value. It may also be his Achilles Heel. King Pu-tsung has been appointed ROC Representative to the US. Does this mean "Taiwan is not completely leaning in the direction of the Mainland?" Does this mean the triangular relationship between Taipei, Beijing, and Washington will become more balanced? This alleged symbolism is foolish. We do not believe it was the reason King Pu-tsung was appointed. Someone with absolutely no sense of proportion concocted this nonsensical "reason" for King Pu-tsung's appointment.
We believe the triangular relationship between Taipei, Beijing, and Washington will entail "Beijing determining what Beijing will do." for quite some time. If Beijing is willing to act, then so will others. Only then will Washington act. Those in charge must understand that in order to influence Washington, we must first influence Beijing. Only then can we ensure the ROC's economic prosperity.
King Pu-tsung has a new job. It is to bring greater balance the triangular relationship between Taipei, Beijing, and Washington. It is not to stir up the pot and upset this delicate balance. King Pu-tsung should not be seen as a symbol of "not completely leaning in the direction of the Mainland." Beijing must not allow itself to be provoked by Julian J. Kuo's characterization. Washington must realize that if Beijing balks, the entire relationship could break down down. As the old American expression puts it, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
King Pu-tsung repeatedly declared that he "would not become a member of the government, would not become a member of the cabinet." But today he is ROC Representative to the United States. His disciple Wang Yu-chi heads the Mainland Affairs Council. His disciple Lin Chung-sheng heads the SEF. King is single-handedly managing both Taipei/Washington relations and Taipei/Washington relations. The personnel roster seems custom tailored to King Pu-tsung. Cross-strait interaction and Taipei/Washington relations must not be upset. King Pu-tsung must use a balance bar to walk a tightrope. He must not rob Peter to pay Paul.
The key problem on Taiwan today is that Taipei and Washington lack a common language, and Taipei and Beijing have yet to establish sufficient trust. For the Ma administration, national security, cross-Strait, and foreign relations are all under the control of "insiders." Amidst all the euphoria, it must not lose sight of its own identity. We believe King Pu-tsung will maintain the balance between Taipei, Beijing, and Washington.
2012.09.21 02:37 am