Mon, Nov 01, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Why Senator Kerry is Pro-China

By John Copper

Judging from his public statements and his record in Congress, Democratic Party candidate Senator John Kerry, if elected president, would likely shift US foreign policy toward a pro-China, anti-Taiwan stance.

What is the evidence?

Kerry has strongly propounded a policy of avoiding conflict. He voted against the Gulf War in 1991 and against funding US forces in Iraq. He speaks of being the "peace president."

Regarding Taiwan, he says the US has no obligation to defend the island. He has also been critical of US arms sales to Taiwan -- both in the past and for weapons currently in the pipeline.

Worse for Taiwan, Kerry states that Taiwan is part of China and backs the "one China" principle. The "one China" principle is officially US policy, but most US leaders who support it link it to the principle of a peaceful resolution of the "Taiwan issue." Kerry doesn't mention this.

Finally, the Democratic platform, Kerry's platform, does not mention the Taiwan Relations Act. The TRA, passed by Congress in 1979, treats Taiwan as a nation-state and promises US arms sales and protection. Kerry apparently does not favor this law.

Kerry has praised Taiwan's democratization, but that seems pro forma and even disingenuous. If Taiwan does not survive, its democracy will no longer be relevant to its citizens or as a model to other countries (which it is).

For all of this, Kerry's stance on Taiwan has evoked talk in Washington of a "fourth communique" that would declare that the US officially opposes an independent Taiwan and will work with China toward its unification with Taiwan.

There has even been mention among Kerry's supporters that the US might allow China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) to seize one of the Taiwan-governed islands near China or otherwise threaten Taiwan, with Washington acquiescing, in order to send a signal to President Chen Shiu-bian (陳水扁) that he must not talk of independence any more.

For all of this, Chinese leaders in Beijing are delighted with Kerry's positions. China's official newspaper, People's Daily, has endorsed Kerry for president. This is unusual; China has in the past supported incumbents.

What is the logic in Kerry's anti-Taiwan (and pro-China) policy? Certainly it is not that China is popular in the US and Taiwan isn't.

Perhaps it is because President George W. Bush is seen as pro-Taiwan. In fact, this is one of the hallmarks of the Bush administration. Kerry may think he must take a different stance to be noticed and/or give voters a choice.

Alternatively, Kerry advisors may anticipate a blow-up in US-China relations. Since the March presidential election in Taiwan, Washington and Beijing have been seriously at odds over Taiwan, and there has been growing tension in their relations.

Kerry's China/Taiwan policy seems to fit his worldview. Kerry sees Europe as playing a bigger role in international affairs. He definitely opposes the neoconservative's unilateral view of the world.

He envisions a multipolar world, which Europe advocates -- and China favors (when it is at odds with the US) and could help to engineer.

On the less principled side, it has been reported that Kerry has received campaign funds from China. If he has chosen to follow former president Bill Clinton's model in winning a presidential election (and Clinton people are now much closer to Kerry), then there may be something to this money angle.

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