Thu, Jul 01, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Insight can be gained from a look at history

By Hau Eng-pang侯榮邦

The US State Department's US-China Economic Security Review Commission recently recommended that the US Congress and government re-assess their "one China" policy.

Given China and Taiwan's changing situations, the US should indeed review the policy's viability. Also deserving review is the topic of how the US can adjust its policy to support Taiwan's defense and how it can help the nation break out of its international economic isolation resulting from China's stranglehold.

The US report notes that China's recent conduct toward Taiwan and Hong Kong has prompted doubts concerning China's ability to find a peaceful resolution to the Taiwan question and to deliver its promise of autonomy to Hong Kong. As China's strength swells, its Asian neighbors are worried that the US' "war on terror" might push the region out of the US' focus.

In the 1970s, the tensions of the Cold War kept climbing and the UN's General Assembly passed a resolution introduced by Albania on Oct. 25, 1971, which declared "that the representative of the government of the People's Republic of China [PRC] is the only lawful representative of China to the United Nations."

The PRC thus replaced the Republic of China, in the UN's eyes, as the sole legitimate government of China.

In addition, to improve ties with China in order to counterbalance the Soviet Union, then US president Richard Nixon sent Henry Kissinger to secretly visit China twice in 1971. In the following year, Nixon himself made a trip to China and signed the Shanghai Communique, which stated that "the US acknowledges that all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain there is but one China and that Taiwan is a part of China."

The US later re-affirmed this stance in the Communique Establishing US-PRC Diplomatic Relations in January, 1979 and the US-PRC Joint Communique of Aug. 17, 1982. Yet in 1979 the US Congress also ratified the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), a legal basis for the US' military support of Taiwan to maintain the peace in the Strait. The communiques and the TRA are products of Cold War ideology, and as such were instituted as temporary measures. More than 30 years on, these policies have failed to offer a resolution to the Taiwan question.

If Taiwan remains internationally isolated, the tension in the Strait will only escalate. China continues increasing its military power, having deployed about 500 missiles that are aimed at the nation.

If China invades Taiwan, the US will be forced into war with China -- or will abandon Taiwan. Surely, the US does not want to have to make that choice because any decision might destroy the peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

Taiwan's population of 23 million puts it 41st among the world's 192 countries. The nation's area -- 35,980km2 -- is somewhere between that of Holland and Belgium. Taiwan's net per capita income reaches US$13,000 and puts Taiwan 25th on the list of the world's most economically developed countries. Also, Taiwan is a democratic country where human rights are protected. Why must such a country be excluded from the international community?

If Taiwan's sovereignty is recognized by the international community, use of force against Taiwan will not be allowed and therefore the nation's security will be ensured.

Undeniably, the US' "one China" policy gives no regard to the Taiwanese people's will.

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