Thu, Jan 27, 2005 - Page 8 News List

US policy an obstacle for Taiwan

By Lin Cheng-yi林正義

Speaking of Sino-US relations, the late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平) said the US had three governments: the executive, Congress and the judiciary. It was not enough to do the work of the White House and the various Cabinet positions, he said, for there was another government in the shape of Congress, which was constantly proposing measures that favored Taiwan.

When the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) took power in 2000, they were in a situation not dissimilar to that of the Clinton administration -- facing a legislature controlled by the opposition. For President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) this meant putting up with the embarrassing situation of Beijing bypassing the governing party and negotiating with the pan-blue camp.

One would have expected that Chen would view Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰), People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) and Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) as his adversaries, but due to a number of complications in the US-Taiwan relationship, Chen had to acquiesce to yet another self-assured adversary, namely, US President George W. Bush.

On the issue of direct flights for the Lunar New Year, the Mainland Affairs Council commissioned Michael Lo (樂大信), head of the Taipei Airlines Association, to discuss the matter with Pu Zhaozhou (浦照洲), executive director of the China Civil Aviation Association in Macau. Not long after, a KMT delegation arrived in Beijing to discuss the flights, speaking with representatives of China's Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) and the China Civil Aviation Association.

Beijing's attitude is the key to resolving the charter flights issue. The flight schedule and possible delays are also in the hands of the Chinese. The DPP and the KMT are merely supporting actors in this drama. Even as China was in the process of framing its proposed "anti-secession law," it was able to make both the DPP and KMT grateful for the goodwill offered by the possibility of charter flights. But now, both parties are fighting over who gets the credit for the agreement reached on the flights, depriving the nation of the ability to pressure Beijing to make concessions on other issues.

In dealing with US-Taiwan relations, any Taiwanese leader is likely to stumble over issues in which the US and China are moving toward agreement, and as a result face an uphill battle against the two countries.

There are also other issues that isolate Taiwan in its triangular relationship with China and the US, including the "one China" principle, the "small three links," their attitude toward Taiwan's independence and their refusal to allow Taiwan into the UN.

In the past, communist China stood on the wrong side of history, and so the US helped Taiwan prevent China from attacking, but at the same time hindered former president Chiang Kai-shek's (蔣介石) ambitions to "retake the mainland." Now that Taiwan has a higher level of democracy and autonomy and no longer regards itself as a part of China, the US is less able to exercise control over Taiwan's actions -- and this has made it uneasy.

US policy is contradictory, and it has a double standard toward democracy. It supports Taiwan's democracy, but does not support its desire for self-determination. The US either acknowledges or agrees with China's "one China" principle, but doesn't have the courage to openly regard Taiwan as a part of China. As such, the US is clearly giving in to Chinese pressure.

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