Taipei Must Keep Pace with Beijing-Washington Dialogue, But Need Not Choose Sides
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
July 15, 2013
Summary: Taipei must change its strategy and tactics. Destructive confrontation with Beijing is not the way. Blindly accepting concessions is not the answer. Beijing and Washington are interacting. Taipei is happy to see further improvements in Beijing-Washington relations. Taipei has no need to choose sides. It must consider the long term interests of the Republic of China as a whole. It must also consider how Chimerica, i.e., (Mainland) China and the US, and Chiaiwan, i.e., (Mainland) China and Taiwan are evolving. It must improve cross-Strait relations in step with Beijing-Washington relations. This is the correct approach.
Full text below:
Strategic and economic dialogue are different. Beijing-Washingto strategic dialogue first began in August 2005. Then US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick and Mainland Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo initiated the dialogue. Their aim was to maintain and expand bilateral cooperation, and to promote Asian-Pacific and world peace. Their focus was to expand dialogue and increase trust. They hoped to increase consensus, cooperation, coordination, and consultation. Beijing-Washington strategic economic dialogue began in December 2006. Then CCP Vice Premier Wu Yi and U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson presided. They discussed commercial aviation, services, banking, securities, the RMB exchange rate, energy, environmental protection, trade and investment, food safety, and international economic and trade cooperation.
Bush administration neoconservatives harbored powerful hostility towards the Chinese mainland. It perceived the PRC as a strategic competitor. It opposed strategic dialogue. It only tolerated dialogue between senior officials. It was overtaken by later developments. In 2009, the Obama administration combined strategic and economic dialogue into one. This represented a major change in US thinking. For two days, beginning on July 10 of this year, the two sides held their fifth meeting in Washington. Senior officials from the two sides carried out strategic and economic dialogue. Mainland Chinese representatives included Vice Premier Wang Yang, and State Councilor Yang Jiechi. United States representatives included Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew. Each time many high-ranking officials participated. Each time they addressed a wide range of issues. As we can see, Beijing-Washingto relations are complex and diverse. Both sides attach great importance to the dialogue.
Senior Obama officials say the dialogue is one of the critical tasks in the Washington's "Asian-Pacific rebalancing strategy." The dialogue continued in California a month ago, when the Obama and Xi Jinping summit engaged in additional in-depth discussions. Strategic issues addressed included North Korean nuclear weapons, Syria, Iran, regional security, and human rights. Economic issues addressed included Mainland Chinese exchange rates and interest rates. Washington hoped to discuss market mechanisms and financial reforms. U.S. officials mentioned another concern -- protection for US "intellectual property rights." The U.S. is concerned about pirated software. It is concerned about the theft of trade secrets. The issues discussed were largely the same as in the past.
As Taipei sees it, Washington has agreed to continue bilateral strategic and economic dialogue. That means Beijing-Washington relations have undergone more than a quantitative change in direction. They have undergone a qualitative change as well. America can no longer ignore or oppose the growth of the Chinese mainland. It can no longer successfully "contain" Beijing. Secondly, Washington will strive to develop a constructive and friendly relationship with Beijing. It will enable the Mainland to play a proportionate, reasonable, and responsible role. It will enable the Mainland to further integrate itself into international society and adopt international norms of conduct. The current priority is to increase strategic trust and transparency, and through a variety of mechanisms, to discuss and solve problems. The two governments differ on human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. They have different political and economic systems. They are at different stages of development. Therefore they face different structural problems. Competition between the two remains unchanged.
As this newspaper recently reported, the recent strategic and economic dialogue was heated. During his opening speech, Vice President Joe Biden blasted Beijing, saying it must cease "blatantly stealing" U.S. intellectual property on the Internet. To everyones' surprise, Biden also demanded that Beijing respect human rights, and accept international human rights norms. He said this is where the Chinese Communists and the US differ. PRC Vice Premier Wang Yang however, responded calmly. He said "(Mainland) China and the U.S. are like a married couple. A divorce could be very costly." He said "In the past we blasted U.S. imperialism. The U.S. called us Communist bandits. But the facts have shown that continued dialogue between the two is a blessing. It is advantageous to world peace and development." Perhaps Biden was talking to US listeners back home. Perhaps it was part of his strategic negotiating strategy. But the United States' arrogance is hardly worth emulating.
The outside world cannot help wondering whether freedom, democracy, and human rights are a moral value for the United States, or merely a political tool? Take the Edward Snowden case. The U.S. government is "crying thief while engaging in thievery." In the name of fighting terrorism, it is infringing upon the sovereignty of other countries. It is trampling over the privacy and human rights of its own citizens. Yet it dares to accuse others of Internet spying. If the United States attaches such great importance to democracy and human rights, why does it adhere to such double standards? Why does it engage in such gross violations of human rights in other countries? Why is it so indifferent to such violations? Over the years, the U.S. has incited countles conflicts the world over, from Egypt to Syria, from the Middle East to Central Asia's color revolutions. Have any of these countries become better? Has the United States acquired more friends, or more foes?
Finally, the Chinese Communist regime is implementing reform and liberalization. Unless this changes, unless economic growth stagnates, social unrest spreads, and Beijing-Washington relations go from cooperation to confrontation, then Mainland China will continue to grow substantially. Its international influence will increase significantly. Taiwan's international influence will decrease significantly. This is due to changes in the tripartite balance of power between Beijing, Washington, and Taipei. It is not the result of war. But our government must change its strategy and tactics. Destructive confrontation is not the way. Blindly accepting concessions is not the answer. Beijing and Washington are interacting. Taipei is happy to see further improvements in Beijing-Washington relations. Taipei has no need to choose sides. It must consider the long term interests of the Republic of China as a whole. It must also consider how Chimerica, i.e., (Mainland) China and the US, and Chiaiwan, i.e., (Mainland) China and Taiwan are evolving. It must improve cross-Strait relations in step with Beijing-Washington relations. This is the correct approach.