The repercussions of the strong comments made by US Secretary of State Colin Powell during his two-day visit to China denying that Taiwan is an independent nation have not ended. Although a lot of effort has been exerted from different angles to interpret and clarify this incident, a diverse range of views makes the whole issue even more complicated. I think that we can regard Powell's statement as a preventive measure intended by Washington to pull Taiwan back to the status quo.
Powell's comments clearly make the following points.
First, the US does not want to see either side take unilateral action, interpret the "one China" policy, or settle on a structure for future cross-strait relations, because if they do the US will inevitably be involved in a cross-strait conflict. Therefore, the US has taken the initiative to prevent a possible war that could take place within a few years.
Second, as for the US, its best strategic advantage in the Asia-Pacific region is served by maintaining stability, and the most important factor to achieve this is by maintaining the status quo across the Taiwan Strait. When the US senses that Taiwan intends to change the current situation, it will do whatever it must to prevent any harm to US international interests.
Third, Powell's warning-like comments on Taiwan indicate that the US attaches greater importance to Sino-US relations than its relationship with Taiwan. Nor is it afraid of revealing its priorities. We cannot rule out the possibility that the US has used this statement to calm China over US arms sales to Taiwan.
Since the Bush administration declared that it has a responsibility to protect Taiwan and will do its best to assist Taiwan's national defense four years ago, to the warning signal given right before the end of this administrative term, it is foreseeable that the US will continue to pursue an increasingly defined China policy.
The next four years will be crucial in determining stability across the Taiwan Strait. How can Taiwan handle the upcoming challenges? If Taiwan refuses to face up to cross-strait issues, it will waste its current economic and political advantages, perhaps even losing the US' moral support. If we understand the inevitable nature of direct cross-strait talks, then our problem lies in how to face China's insistence on its "one China" principle.
If the "one China" principle is the inescapable crux of the matter, then how can Taiwan respond with a "one China" proposal based on its best strategic interests? The best example to soothe conflict and create prosperity should be the peace process of European integration. If we can follow the spirit of the EU, eliminate any possible military and political factors that can trigger conflicts, and launch a multi-level cooperation that can reinforce mutual trust and dependency, the stability and prosperity of the two sides of the Taiwan Strait should be guaranteed.
Therefore, we can propose the concept of "one China" based on the model of the EU as a response to China's rigid "one-China" definition. This new "one China" will give Taiwan the following guarantees:
First, maintaining Taiwan's status quo, and not changing Taiwan's sovereignty: the development of the EU is not involved in national sovereignty issues of each member country, but rather, it only emphasizes the cooperation of policy issues that are beneficial to the EU as a whole.