China Times Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
July 21, 2015
Executive Summary: Tsai Ing-wen is the DPP's 2016 presidential candidate. The probability she will be elected is high. Does the United States buy Tsai Ing-wen's cross-Strait policy rhetoric? Does it trust her to deal with cross-Strait issues?
Full Text Below:
Tsai Ing-wen is the DPP's 2016 presidential candidate. The probability she will be elected is high. Does the United States buy Tsai Ing-wen's cross-Strait policy rhetoric? Does it trust her to deal with cross-Strait issues?
This question is worth exploring. The trilateral relationship between Taipei, Washington, and Beijing means that whatever one party does affects the others. The person or political party who leads the ROC must be able to maintain balance in the relationship between Taipei, Washington, and Beijing. Any imbalance, including instability in the Taiwan Strait, will negatively impact the fate of 23 million people.
Tsai Ing-wen visited the US in her capacity as DPP presidential nominee. She visited the US State Department and met with Deputy Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. She received red carpet treatment. That means Washington thinks she may well win. As a result the Taiwan media termed Tsai's visit a "great success". During a dinner reception with overseas Chinese, Joseph Wu, DPP Secretary-General and ROC representative to the US, in a moment of jubilation, described Tsai's visit to Washington as "very successful".
Soon after, President Ma Ying-jeou transited the United States. He returned to his alma mater Harvard University, where he delivered speeches and participated in academic discussions. President Ma's visit attracted little attention in the Taiwan media. He reminisced about his contribution to stable trilateral relations between Washington, Beijing, and Taipei. He spoke of how he got the two sides to trust each other during his seven-year term. US officials were unstinting in their praise of President Ma's speech and successful discussion groups.
Washington gave both Tsai Ing-wen and President Ma the red carpet treatment. But when responding to Tsai Ing-wen's speech, US officials merely reiterated that the US position has always been to develop strong unofficial relations with Taiwan, and that the US abides by the One China Policy, the Three Joint Communiques, and the Taiwan Relations Act. The US response was mere pro forma lip service, devoid of real substance.
If the United States bought Tsai's rhetoric, why was it so reluctant to offer a few words of praise? Contrast this with the praise it heaped on Ma Ying-jeou. Why did the United States give people the unmistakable impression of favoritism?
Contrast this with the situation four years ago. The United States did not criticize Tsai Ing-wen. But refraining from criticizing is a long way from heaping unstinting praise. Raymond Burghardt, President of the American Institute in Taiwan, said the United States chose not to criticize Tsai this time. But it listened carefully to what Tsai Ing-wen had to say. There is a big difference between what she says and what she thinks. What Tsai said, the United States heard. But did the United States buy what she said?
The United States listened but said nothing. There are two reasons for this. One. The United States did not want people to think it was taking sides. It was reluctant to criticize a presidential candidate who was likely to win. Two. The DPP did its homework. For example, Tsai Ing-wen submitted an editorial to the Wall Street Journal, saying "My priority is to increase cross-Strait mutual trust and cooperation." The United States is naturally not about to criticize such a statement.
Is Tsai's cross-Strait policy path acceptable to the United States? Consider what Joseph R. Donovan Jr., Managing Director of the American Institute in Taiwan said recently at a Taiwanese American Conference-East Coast (TAC-EC). The event was sponsored by pro-green overseas Taiwanese. Donovan, the guest speaker, reiterated the United States position. He said the US insists on a cross-Strait relationship acceptable to people on both sides of the Strait, and the peaceful handling of cross-Strait relations.
When referring to cross-Strait policy, US officials sometimes say, "should be acceptable to people on both sides of the Strait". At other times they say, "should be acceptable to the people on Taiwan". Generally speaking, the former is more common when the Republicans are in power, while the latter is more common when Democrats are in power.
Suppose the Democratic Progressive Party was currently in power? Suppose pro-green overseas Taiwanese were the host? Suppose Donovan said, "should be acceptable to people on both sides of the Strait"? That would have amounted to a declaration to the green camp that "The United States does not support Taiwan independence". That would have clearly refuted Tsai Ing-wen's longed for "Taiwan independence DNA" thesis.
For Tsai Ing-wen, cross-Strait policy poses a dilemma. She must seek US approval. She must also accomodate the DPP and its long held position. She must bob and weave, and ultimately avoid giving a straight answer. Following a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, three times she was asked what she meant by "maintaining the status quo", and the "1992 consensus". Three times she gave the same answer: "Please read carefully the contents of my speech." Her evasions made that day's BBC headlines, and became the butt of jokes by the news anchor.
Just before Tsai Ing-wen's visit, Susan Thornton, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian Affairs, heaped praise on the Ma administration's cross-Strait policy, thereby setting the tone for the future of cross-Strait relations. Following Tsai Ing-wen's departure, President Ma Ying-jeou transited the United States. Raymond Burghardt repeatedly reaffirmed the Ma administration's cross-Strait policy. On the one hand, the US repeatedly praised the Ma administration's cross-Strait policy. On the other hand it remained tight-lipped and refused to affirm Tsai Ing-wen's cross-Strait policy. Does the United States buy Tsai's cross-Strait rhetoric? Isn't the answer obvious?
The US government position is abundantly clear. It wants cross-Strait peace and stability. Recent US official remarks include the following: "encourage both sides to continue constructive dialogue; encourage Taiwan to continue its zero accident policy, low key maintainence of stability; we want to see this approach continue; the United States clearly looks forward to this." Does Tsai have a clear response? If she cannot offer a clear response, how can she gain the trust of the other side?
In 2000, President Chen Shui-bian's inaugural speech included his "five noes". The United States did more than ask for such a declaration. It demanded such a declaration, Fifteen years have elapsed. The balance of power between the United States and the Mainland has shifted. The United States looks forward peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait even more than before.
ROC presidential candidates must have the determination, the strategy, and the ability to ensure peace in the Taiwan Strait. They most assuredly cannot simply tell people "Read the contents of my speech".
未來無論任何人或任何政黨領導台灣， 都必須有能力在美中台三邊關係中維持平衡，一旦失衡， 輕則台海動盪，重則影響2300萬人命運。
進入美國國務院與副國務卿布林肯會談，是非常高規格的安排， 顯見美國接受了她當選的可能，因而台灣媒體傳出「大成功」 的歡呼，訪美行結束前的僑界晚宴上， 民進黨祕書長兼駐美代表吳釗燮更是意氣風發，說華府之行「 很成功」。
回到母校哈佛大學演說並與學界座談， 馬總統的演說並未引起台灣媒體太多關注，但這場演說的規格， 反映了他在7年任期中，對美中台三邊穩定關係的貢獻， 獲得雙方的肯定與信賴。 美國官方隨後也不吝讚揚馬總統演說的內容與座談的順利舉行。
政府官方在答詢時，只重申美國「立場一貫， 與台灣發展強固的非官方關係」、「美國信守一個中國政策，遵循3 個聯合公報及《台灣關係法》」等，可謂只有形式而無實質。
予以肯定」之間，仍存在很大差距。 美國在台協會主席薄瑞光事後說，美國這回已決定不批蔡， 而是仔細聽聽蔡英文自己怎麼說。但「你怎麼說」與「我怎麼想」 之間，存在很大差距。蔡說過了，美國聽到了， 但是美國接受蔡的說法嗎？
美國尤其不願批判有厚望的總統候選人；二是民進黨的「課前作業」 非常周到，例如蔡英文投書美國《華爾街日報》，稱自己「 首要工作是…強化兩岸互信與合作」。 這樣的說法當然讓美國不好批評。
可從美國在台協會執行理事唐若文最近在「美東台灣人夏令會」 的談話嗅出端倪。這個活動是由親綠台僑主辦，唐若文應邀演說， 其中提及美國「堅持在兩岸人民都接受的方式下， 和平處理台海關係。」
卻又要顧及民進黨的立場與自己的一貫主張，左支右絀， 結果只能避而不答。在華府智庫「戰略暨國際研究中心」（CSIS ）演說後，3次有人問她有關「維持現狀」、「九二共識」等事， 她每次都是一樣的答案，「請你仔細閱讀我的演說內容」。 這個態度當天上了BBC的新聞標題，也當場成了主持人說笑的哏。
美國國務院東亞副助卿董雲裳以大量的讚譽之詞肯定馬英九政府的兩 岸路線，等於為未來的兩岸走向定調。蔡英文離美後， 馬英九總統過境美國，輪到薄瑞光多方肯定馬英九政府的兩岸路線。 美國一方面反覆讚賞馬的兩岸走向， 另一方面則絕口不願肯定蔡的兩岸走向。美國有沒有接受蔡的說法， 答案還不明顯嗎？
綜合最近美國官員談話，有如下述：鼓勵兩岸繼續建設性的對話； 鼓勵台灣繼續「零意外」、「低調」以維繫安定； 希望看見這樣的作法持續下去（We want to see this approach continue）」。面對美國這樣的明確期待， 蔡英文有什麼明確回應？如果不能有明確的回應， 如何能贏得對方的信賴？
那種立場宣示，不但是美國「需要」的，更可說是美國「索要」的。 事隔15年，隨著美、陸實力消長， 美國對台海穩定和平的期待更甚。