Tue, Mar 12, 2002 - Page 8 News List

Taiwan must work to better US ties

By Paul Lin 林保華

During his recent Asian tour, US President George W. Bush pro-claimed in no uncertain terms the warmth of the relationship between the US and Taiwan. Before leaving the US, he had strongly condemned the "axis of evil" countries in his State of the Union address, while taking the position that the democratic countries in Asia, of which Taiwan is one, are allies.

On Feb. 19, Bush, in his speech to the Japanese Diet, stated, "America will not forget its commitment to the people of Taiwan." On Feb. 20, he visited the demilitarized zone between the two Koreas, and, facing North Korea, one of his "axis of evil" countries, he gave his clear support to South Korea.

Reflecting on the Korean War, a time when the US without hesitation threw itself into a battle of life and death with the communist aggressors in order to defend South Korea, Taiwan and the free world, we are confident that the US will adopt preventive measures to deal with China's current military expansion.

Some politicians say different things to different people. Bush, however, has not done so, at least as far as the Taiwan issue is concerned, and he has shown a certain degree of both principle and persistence in saying the same things to both Japan and China.

At his joint press conference with Bush, Chinese President Jiang Zemin (江澤民) emphasized Washington's continued adherence to a "one China" policy and mentioned the three Sino-US communiques. When it was Bush's turn to speak, however, he made no mention of these things, but instead talked about a peaceful solution of the cross-strait issue, about neither party making any provocative moves and about continued US compliance with the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA).

This not only destroyed the "three nos" of former US president Bill Clinton, a policy that helped China to escalate its rhetoric and military threats against Taiwan, but it also differed from Clinton's three pillars ("one China," cross-strait dialogue and peaceful solution of the cross strait issue).

Indeed, if we compare Bush's and Clinton's policies, we see that they differ, although they both call for a peaceful resolution of the cross-strait issue. This is no trivial matter, especially given the emphasis that Bush has put on the TRA. The Chinese leadership -- which has long hidden the fact of the TRA from its people but which has always reported what it calls US violations of the three communiques -- cannot let the Chinese public know that the US gives precedence to the TRA over the three communiques.

Supporters of China have defined Taiwanese localization and de-sinicization as "provocative moves." The most provocative aspect of cross-strait relations, however, is China's threat to use military force, since it violates the principle of peaceful resolution of the cross-strait issue.

In his speech at Tsinghua University, Bush was unwilling to discuss the cross-strait relationship. In their questions, however, students kept coming back to the issue and so Bush was forced to reiterate his support for the US "one-China" policy. He did, however, also once again emphasize the US commitment to the people of Taiwan made in the TRA. This will have informed both the Tsing-hua students and the Chinese public about the TRA and given them a better understanding of the triangular relationship between the US, China and Taiwan.

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