Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Taipei an Asset not a Liability in Beijing-Washington Relations

Taipei an Asset not a Liability in Beijing-Washington Relations
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China)
A Translation
September 25, 2013

Summary: Win-win, and win-win-win, should be the common goal. Beijing-Washington-Taipei relations can become a force for good. The Ma administration must consider other possibilities and adopt concrete measures. It must turn concepts into policies. This is the only responsible approach.

Full text below:

Mainland Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who is currently in the U.S., has mentioned the "Taiwan issue" several times. First, he said that the "Taiwan issue" is manageable. Secondly, he said Beijing hopes Washington understands and respects the Chinese mainland's opposition to separatism. Beijing is committed to peaceful reunification. It hopes to transform the Taiwan issue from a liability to an asset in Sino-US relations. It wants peace not war, cooperation not confrontation, and communications not isolation. He said this is the shared aspiration of people on both sides of the Strait. His remarks were brief but exhaustive.

Minister Wang Yi's remarks may have been directed at Washington. But they also reflect the Beijing authorities' assessment of the current international situation and cross-Strait situation, as well as his own. They even suggest the possibility of a future cross-Strait, trilateral relationship. They reveal Beijing's rational and pragmatic side. Clearly the Beijing authorities have no intention of seeking confrontation with Washington over international and cross-strait issues. Beijing even expressed the hope that Washington and Taipei could take benign interaction as their point of departure, and allow the three parties to interact in a positive manner. This is good news indeed.

Beijing is enaged in Big Power diplomacy with Washington, Brussels, and Tokyo. But it has not neglected relations with developing countries and neighboring countries. It continues to promote its Peaceful Neighbor, Good Neighbor, and Enrich Thy Neighbor policies. It continues to establish partnerships with these countries. Beijing genuinely desires a stable international and domestic environment. It wants to pursue economic growth. It wants to buy time to resolve its myriad internal problems. Beijing may want to reduce U.S. influence in the Asian Pacific region. But it has no intention of driving the United States out of Asia. Beijing has no intention of taking on the role of troublemaker.

Wang Yi's remarks show that Beijing understands the intricacies of the "Taiwan issue." In the short run, the Taiwan issue cannot be resolved. Pulling on the shoots in an effort to achieve short term results will only be counterproductive. Realistically, Beijing's control is limited. It has no wish to let the situation get out of hand. Both sides have bigger fish to fry. They have more urgent problems and common interests to address. Beijing does not want to complicate relations with Washington. Any confrontation would only lead to a lose-lose outcome. Nor would Taipei necessarily benefit from any Beijing-Washington confrontation.

Taipei has also long abandoned any zero sum game strategy to undermine Beijing-Washington relations. Taipei realizes that such a strategy would not be in Taipei's interests. A stable Beijing-Washington relationship is consistent with the interests of all parties in the region. The most important thing is to prevent accidents. President Ma said Taipei wants to be a responsible stakeholder, a peacemaker rather than a troublemaker. This means that for Beijing and Washington, Taipei is an asset rather than a liability.

Of course merely refraining from undermining the healthy development of Beijing-Washington relations is not enough. Taipei must seek an active role in the development of Beijing-Washington relations. Taipei must be willing and able to help. Beijing and Washington must adopt the proper posture. Taipei must not engage in wishful thinking. When Taipei considers its own interests, it must take into account the nation's general welfare and long-term development. In particular, it must avoid becoming a tool of foreign governments' attempting to contain the Chinese mainland.

When outside observers discuss Beijing-Washington, Washington-Taipei, and cross-Strait relations, they know that the trilateral and bilateral relationship is unequal. Taiwan's wariness and the Chinese mainland's caution are understandable. But Washington does want to see a different Chinese mainland. It wants to see a moderate, rational, reformist, free market, confident, anger-free Chinese mainland, that has joined the international community and accepted mainstream international values. Similarly, Washington hopes the two sides of the Strait will communicate, engage in long-term dialogue, reduce tensions, and strengthen exchanges. This is consistent with the long-term national interests of the United States.

Some blast the US for having hidden agendas. Some note that U.S. policy toward Mainland China contains internal contradictions. Mainland China's reforms and market opening mean it will eventually become strong, and inevitably challenge U.S. hegemony. Continued improvement in cross-Strait relations will reduce Taipei's vigilance, deepen mutual interdependence, and lead to eventual reunification. But Washington says it values process over results. During the process, Washington will naturally make whatever responses and preparations are necessary. Deductive logic and US rhetoric both call for a wait and see attitude. Time will tell.

Minister Wang Yi explained Beijing's strategic position. He said its policies would prove that it seeks cooperation, and that it has no intention of making trouble. As the saying goes, character determines destiny, vision determines direction. The direction of cross-Strait and trilateral relations is a matter of intent. Simply put, Taipei must seize the initiative. It must promote the development of improved Beijing-Washington relations. It must take on this role by itself. It must combine "Love of Taiwan" and the "China Dream." This is essential to the tripartite Beijing-Washington-Taipei relationship.

Win-win, and win-win-win, should be the common goal. Beijing-Washington-Taipei relations can become a force for good. The Ma administration must consider other possibilities and adopt concrete measures. It must turn concepts into policies. This is the only responsible approach.

中國時報 本報訊 2013年09月25日 04:10











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