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US may launch Taiwan Policy Review

TIME FOR RE-THINK?: A full Taiwan Policy Review was first conducted in 1979 after Washington shifted recognition to Beijing, with a second taking place 15 years later

By William Lowther
Friday, Apr 24, 2009, Page 1

Washington may soon launch a new Taiwan Policy Review that could have an enormous impact on bilateral relations.

While there have been no official announcements and foreign policy advisers close to both US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and US President Barack Obama refuse to discuss the subject, there are increasing rumors and speculation.

The Taipei Times has been told by senior congressional sources that a formal review is being considered by the Obama administration but that no decision has been made.

And Professor David Shambaugh, director of the China Policy Program at George Washington University, wrote earlier this month that there was a “growing discussion” in Washington of the need to undertake a thorough Taiwan Policy Review “given the dramatic and positive changes in cross-strait relations.”

Significantly, such a review would come at a time when Shambaugh — one of the most-respected China scholars in Washington — said that the Sino-US relationship appeared to be the best it has been in the 20 years since the “traumatizing” Tiananmen Square Massacre of 1989.

In a paper for the Foreign Policy Research Institute, Shambaugh said that resuming military-to-military exchanges with Beijing was a high priority for the Obama administration and recent bilateral discussions suggested such exchanges were slowly resuming.

“Concerning Taiwan, Washington is pleased with the trajectory of the issue since [President] Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) election. Cross-strait relations have substantially stabilized in all spheres. Of course, the real issue for the US in this area is the continuing buildup of ballistic missiles opposite Taiwan [now 1,000-plus], the large conventional force deployments in this theater and the continuing PLA exercises that simulate attack scenarios against the island,” he said.

“It would be politically astute for Beijing to unilaterally freeze all three as a goodwill gesture to enhance confidence on Taiwan and advance the process of cross-strait rapprochement. Doing so would put pressure on Washington to reconsider the rationale for a new arms package, i.e. whether it sends official notification to Congress of its intent to carry through on the [former US president George W. Bush] administration’s October 2008 declaration of intent to sell,” he wrote.

A full Taiwan Policy Review was first conducted in 1979 after the US shifted recognition to Beijing.

The second such review was not held until 15 years later under former US president Bill Clinton in 1994.

It was said at that time that the new Taiwan policy would “strike the right balance between Taipei and Beijing, laying the basis for further expanding relations with both while ensuring continued peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.”

The Obama administration might well argue that another review would be timely.

Shambaugh said in his paper that while the “chronic problem” of Taiwan was at low ebb and East Asia was at peace (notwithstanding the North Korean nuclear problem) — the path was clear for the US and China to focus on regional and global cooperation.

“To be sure, the Taiwan issue remains potent and as long as the arms sales issue hangs over the relationship, bilateral relations are not fully normalized,” he said.

It is not clear, Shambaugh said, exactly what Clinton and the White House have in mind concerning initiating arms control talks with China.

“Presumably it means that they are interested in negotiating some kind of strategic arms ceilings with China. If so, the Obama administration is likely to run up against the longstanding Chinese position that the US and Russia must first radically reduce the tens of thousands of warheads in their arsenals below 1,000 on each side before China will even consider joining such negotiations,” he said.

Beijing has 400-plus nuclear warheads but only several dozen deployed on its 30-plus intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Shambaugh said that China was hoping the US arms sale to Taiwan will not go through.



Entrusting peace to a dictatorship

By Huang Chi-yao 黃啟堯
Friday, Apr 24, 2009, Page 8

The US Court of Appeals in Washington recently ruled in favor of the US government in the case of Roger C.S. Lin et al v United States of America. The decision, which was written by Judge Janice Rogers Brown, stated that: “America and China’s tumultuous relationship over the past sixty years has trapped the inhabitants of Taiwan in political purgatory. During this time the people on Taiwan have lived without any uniformly recognized government. In practical terms, this means they have uncertain status in the world community, which infects the population’s day-to-day lives. This pervasive ambiguity has driven Appellants to try to concretely define their national identity and personal rights.”

Indeed, the people of Taiwan have lived in political purgatory for 60 years because the US did not establish domestic legislation or automatically execute the San Francisco Peace Treaty after signing it, nor did it act in accordance with the guiding principles of the UN Charter and other international declarations on human rights and loyally carry out its international duties and responsibilities as outlined in those treaties — i.e., end the occupation and assist Taiwan in establishing itself as an independent nation.

Nor did the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) — a domestic US law enacted to handle the problems created after the US severed diplomatic ties with the Republic of China (ROC) — handle the Taiwan issue that was created as a result of the San Francisco Peace Treaty. This has caused the Taiwanese public to suffer the dilemma of occupation by a Chinese government in exile and lack of diplomatic recognition.

While there is no doubt that the TRA has made major contributions to the security, peace and prosperity of Taiwan and the Western Pacific region and kept Taiwan free of military encroachment and annexation by China, the “one China” policy framework has caused Taiwan to lose almost any formal diplomatic recognition — be it of de facto or de jure independence. This has had a negative impact on Taiwan’s sovereignty and human rights.

From this perspective, the “one China” policy has limited Taiwan’s international relations and participation in international organizations. This has damaged Taiwan’s sovereignty, which in turn has damaged regional security. Diplomacy is a soft form of military force and the cross-strait military imbalance is the result of diplomatic imbalance, which in turn has had a negative impact on stability and prosperity in the Western Pacific area. This reasoning is borne out by Section 4(d) of the TRA which states: “Nothing in this Act may be construed as a basis for supporting the exclusion or expulsion of Taiwan from continued membership in any international financial institution or any other international organization.”

The “one China” policy has also had a negative impact on human rights. Section 2(c) of the TRA states: “Nothing contained in this Act shall contravene the interest of the United States in human rights, especially with respect to the human rights of all the approximately eighteen million inhabitants of Taiwan. The preservation and enhancement of the human rights of all the people on Taiwan are hereby reaffirmed as objectives of the United States.” Part (b) of the same section also states that it is the policy of the US “to make clear that the United States decision to establish diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China rests upon the expectation that the future of Taiwan will be determined by peaceful means.”

Self-determination is the basis of human rights, while peace is merely the form which human rights take. The majority of people in Taiwan, especially the Taiwanese people as defined by the San Francisco Peace Treaty, do not believe that they are Chinese and therefore naturally do not agree that Taiwan is a part of China or that they should decide Taiwan’s future together with the people of China.

Although the Treaty of Taipei signed in 1952 by the ROC and Japan did not deal with the territorial sovereignty of Taiwan — it did not have the power to do so — in terms of terminology, the treaty states that “nationals of the Republic of China shall be deemed to include all the inhabitants and former inhabitants of Taiwan (Formosa) and Penghu (the Pescadores),” and this has been detrimental to human rights in Taiwan. The government used bloody suppression, martial law and assassinations to achieve its goal of controlling Taiwan. The methods were very similar to the military threats of China and were in clear breach of Article 2.4 of the UN Charter, which prohibits the use of military force. The US should have submitted these crimes to the UN to be solved via resolution.

In addition, the TRA governs the relations between the peoples of the US and Taiwan, and it regulates foreign, rather than diplomatic, relations. However, it is not concerned with the long-standing issue of “the governing authorities on Taiwan” and does not include anything on urging these “authorities” to improve human rights in Taiwan.

Since President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) government took office, it has used the excuse of conducting peaceful dialogue with China to lean heavily toward China in the name of diplomacy in order to expedite its goal of eventual unification. This policy change and government comments last year that it would be prepared to go to war with Japan over an incident involving a sunken fishing boat in the disputed Diaoyutai (釣魚台) islands have severely damaged the US’ strategic interests in the Western Pacific region as well as Taiwan’s security.

Economically, the government is relying more and more on China and appears bent on uprooting all of Taiwan’s industries. The economic cooperation framework agreement that the government is preparing to sign with China is in conflict with the WTO framework and political and economic priorities, ignoring domestic unemployment and industrial survival. Even worse, in its pursuit of dictatorship and reestablishment of an authoritarian system of government, the Ma administration has damaged democracy, infringed on human rights and directed prosecutors, police and the judiciary to abuse their powers, harming the rule of law, fairness, justice, freedom and equality in Taiwan.

These examples are clear evidence that the government is moving toward substantive integration with China and selling off Taiwan’s democracy and human rights in the process. However, the US does not show appropriate concern or intervene, which clearly violates the spirit of the TRA.

While the TRA has contributed greatly to security across the Taiwan Strait over the last 30 years, security, sovereignty and human rights are complementary and cannot be separated from each other. Because the source of these threats is the same, the danger is unitary but multifaceted. Only by promoting Taiwan’s sovereignty and human rights can we establish a sound foundation for security. The only way to consolidate security in the Western Pacific and East Asia is by guaranteeing freedom and democracy in Taiwan. Entrusting peace to a dictatorship is not the way to do that.

Huang Chi-yao is an international lawyer and former visiting researcher at the Max Planck Institute.



PRC media suppression reaches out to Taiwan

By Leon Chuang 莊豐嘉
Friday, Apr 24, 2009, Page 8

‘China can easily feast on the financially troubled Taiwanese media like a wolf among a flock of sheep while the Taiwanese government stands idly by.’

What if one day Taiwanese journalists were to get paid in yuan and cover Taiwanese news exclusively for Chinese media outlets while employing Chinese “product placement” in their news reports? What would happen to the voice of Taiwanese if public opinion were to be silenced by the Chinese government?

This is not a hypothetical question, because it is happening right now.

Want Want China Holdings Ltd chairman Tsai Eng-meng (蔡衍明) and his family acquired the China Times Group media syndicate in November. Tsai, who answers to officials from various provinces and cities in China, could report that he had “followed the directives from his superiors to report on the prosperity of the motherland.” The acquisition did not cause much of a stir at China Times or the media industry because employees received their paychecks and bonuses on time. They probably thought: “What’s so bad about that?”

China has spent tens of billions of dollars to get a foothold in the global media. The investment in Taiwan is just a drop in the bucket. Flushed with cash, China can easily feast on the financially troubled Taiwanese media like a wolf among a flock of sheep while the Taiwanese government stands idly by.

The administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is leaning toward Chinese news agencies like Xinhua opening branches in Taiwan. Xinhua is a state news agency that aggressively pushed Beijing’s “united front” tactics in Hong Kong before its handover to China. If Xinhua were to open a branch in Taiwan, what are the chances that it will not do the same thing here? “Entering the island, entering the households and entering the hearts of the public” are the major goals of China’s psychological and media warfare in Taiwan.

Taiwan is a capitalist society, so commercial media outlets are mainly driven by profit. It is therefore very easy to make these outlets change their stance. The Taiwan Advertisers’ Association used to seek order in the media chaos, but now it has become used to controlling the media in Taiwan to avoid angering their Chinese bosses.

What is the biggest threat to Taiwan’s media outlets? It is that they will not be able to report anything that goes against Chinese interests. Many Taiwanese media outlet owners have colluded with China. What’s worse is that politicians and businesspeople are joining hands in an attempt to take over the Taiwanese media industry. There will soon be no space left for freedom, yet Taiwanese continue to think they have a thorough grasp of the situation.

Taiwanese media outlets seem to be struggling to seize the last chance to express their opinion as Beijing’s shadow looms ever closer and their freedom of expression is vanishing quickly. Will freedom become but a memory for future generations?

Leon Chuang is chairman of the Association of Taiwan Journalists.

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