Wednesday, May 20, 2009

US-Taiwan Policy

It's quite refreshing to read about such strong support for Taiwan in the U.S. As the article states, recently, calls for review of the current policy on Taiwan by the U.S. have been flying around. This, along with the fact that the TRA is now in its 30th year anniversary of TRA being approved by the US congress.

Just a few points that I feel should be highlighted:

Royce said Congress was concerned that despite the many moves by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to improve relations with China, there had been no military “drawdown” by Beijing.

“In 2001 there were 250 missiles [aimed at Taiwan], I remember the briefings. Last time I checked there were 1,400 missiles and other batteries were still coming on line. In terms of security, America’s Asian partners fear that the US is an Asian power in decline,” he said.

Even after the supposed "warming ties" between Taiwan and China, China has shown no "goodwill" in reducing the number of missiles pointed at Taiwan. The figure is still anywhere between 1300-1500, with the article quoting Representative Ed Royce saying it was around 1,400 still. This is all besides the fact that any "goodwill" that China wants the world to think, if it ever did reduce the number of missiles, is just hand-waving on their end. Yes, it's a nice gesture, but if they really wanted to use the missiles, do you really think it would take more than a couple hours to reposition the missiles at Taiwan? What is more important than reducing the missiles pointed at Taiwan, is dismantling missiles pointed at Taiwan. Another article earlier this year cites it's up to 1,500.

“How Washington treats Taiwan will signal how Washington sees its role in the Pacific. And that’s another reason why I believe that engagement with Taiwan is very important. Taiwan faces one of the most complex and lethal military threats in the world,” he said.

I believe Royce would make a good China/Taiwan foreign policy adviser for the Obama administration. But, it's recently been filled anyways by another Republican who may actually know something about Taiwan (having done missionary work in Taiwan previously). Rare to see, but here I do concede to Obama for reaching across the aisle and potentially giving Taiwan some support (actual results, we will have to wait and see). Anyways, what I like is that Royce recognizes the importance of Taiwan, which is what I also believe- that either Taiwan/China conflict or Iran/Israel will likely be where the next flashpoint for a potential world war will start.

“First, keep Taiwan honest to its democratic legacy. There’s always the chance of slipping in terms to commitment to freedom of speech. In any country, there is a tendency to try to stifle debate and shut down political opponents. This is wrong. If the government strays from its principles, it’s our responsibility as Americans to help the Taiwanese to stand up for free speech,” he said.

Wow, someone outside of Taiwan the actually recognizes that the human rights/democracy/freedom of speech in Taiwan has been deteriorating since Ma and his KMT came back into full power in 2008. For those who still don't believe it, Freedom House has got my back, "Media in Taiwan faced assault and growing government pressure."

“We should revisit the Taiwan guidelines. The US needs to find ways to more openly engage Taiwan’s democratic leaders. The Taiwan guidelines are arcane and inappropriate for the type of relationship we have with Taiwan. They are 30 years old and to my knowledge they have only been modified once. It would make sense to review and adapt our policies. It is time to do this. China and Taiwan are much different today than they were then. Detente notwithstanding, the Taiwan Strait is a flash point. It is essential that US policy makers be able to directly communicate with the leaders of Taiwan. Restrictions on US-Taiwan contact are counter-productive. Not just that but they can also be dangerous,” he said.

Took my words right out of my mouth: flashpoint! If we have people like Royce leading the Taiwan support in the U.S., I have hope for a better Taiwan. Recognition of the importance of Taiwan goes a long ways in my book. Royce also takes a stab in the right direction on the revising of the TRA. Many have been talking about a review of the TRA, but mostly in terms of tilting it in terms of China's favor because of China's increasing pressure on the U.S, as well as Taiwan being tilted towards China by Ma. It's good to see that there are people that believe we can have a review of the TRA, where Taiwan does not get shafted further.

“If we want cross-strait detente to succeed, President Ma must deal from a position of strength. The US should be prepared to proceed with appropriate arms sales to Taiwan. The arms sales incentivize China to pursue political, not military, means to reconcile its differences with Taiwan,” Royce said.
Walk softly and carry a big stick- that's what China does. If Taiwan is ever going to try to successfully negotiate with China about any sort of agreement and get something where it isn't always a win-win situation for China, then Taiwan must have military and weapons support from the U.S. Even if China decided to engage Taiwan militarily and we know that Taiwan on its own would not be able to hold its ground, continuing with arms sales to Taiwan is not only the U.S.'s policy to do so, but also indirectly shows the U.S.'s continual support of Taiwan. Think of it in China's view: a Taiwan that is continually getting arms sales from the U.S. is much harder to deal with than a Taiwan that has stopped receiving arms sales from the U.S. for whatever reason. If Taiwan stops receiving arms sales, it may be a sign that the United States commitment towards Taiwan is waning.

I've had a dim outlook on Taiwan recently, and although I hope for the best, it's been hard due to the "warming" ties between China and Taiwan. But, if our representatives and senators in the U.S. can once again rally support for a positive revision of the TRA, then Taiwan may just be given a second chance. At that point, it is up to the people of Taiwan to let their voices be heard and not let their future be decided by the KMT/CCP.

BTW: I was going to make another update about the DPP sit-in, but I've lost a lot of pictures due to the SD card I was using being unreadable. It's now at Apacer's company for at least 3-4 weeks as they attempt to recover any data on it. So, I may just make a post tomorrow or later, about the sit-in with a few pictures that I managed to take off first. It was really moving to see everyone there with 伊是咱的寶貝 playing in the background (YouTube link to the song). I'll let the pictures speak for themselves when I update tomorrow.

No comments: