Fri, May 19, 2006 - Page 8 News List

US playing into Beijing's hands

By Chen Hurng-yu 陳鴻瑜

On May 10, US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick said at a hearing of the House International Relations Committee that "Independence means war." Zoellick's remark hardly came as a surprise. Ever since the Clinton era, the US has been clear about its opposition to Taiwanese independence and US officials have repeatedly made the same assertion over the years.

As a Taiwanese, I find these statements by US officials unacceptable. The US' legal foundation for dealing with Taiwan is the Taiwan Relations Act. The act allows the US to provide Taiwan with defensive weapons and to solve the cross-strait issue through peaceful means.

Based on this, the US should provide Taiwan with weapons it believes are capable of counterbalancing China and maintaining the military equilibrium across the Strait. The fundamental assumption in providing Taiwan with these weapons is that China will attack Taiwan.

China has time and again said that it would attack if Taiwan declares independence. Since US and Chinese thinking on this issue is beginning to converge, they share the same interest in the Taiwan issue. Washington and Beijing are clearly seeking a quid pro quo, and this is by no means advantageous to the nation.

What does the US have to offer China? It is exchanging pressure on Taiwan for China's cooperation on Iraq and Iran, the UN and other international organizations and issues. The US has never denounced China or said that it would not negotiate with China unless Beijing agreed to renounce the use of force against Taiwan or stop squeezing Taipei in the international community. In other words, the US is using other international issues to trade with China on the Taiwan issue.

The joint communique establishing diplomatic relations between the US and China does not contain any statement that the US agrees that Taiwan is part of the People's Republic of China. However, we have yet to see the US express opposition to Beijing's drive to suppress Taiwan's international activities.

Nor is Washington supportive of the idea that Taiwanese have the right to determine their future. Evidently, the US has restricted itself on the Taiwan question. Under these circumstances, if the US only wants Taiwan to purchase its weapons, one cannot help but be suspicious of its intentions.

I believe that many Taiwanese leaders in both the ruling and opposition parties regard the US as one of the country's most important allies, and that the majority of the public share the same view. As such, many are perplexed as to why the US repeatedly says it is supportive of Taiwan, but tries to confine the country in every aspect.

Why did the US want to intervene in Taiwan's first-ever referendum held in tandem with the presidential election in 2004? Why did Washington oppose President Chen-shui-bian's (陳水扁) initial decision to cease the application of the national unification guidelines? Why did the US government treat Chen so discourteously when he wanted to transit through the US en route to the country's allies in Latin America? Were these actions meant to ingratiate Washington with Beijing? To punish Chen?

Zoellick made it clear that Chen is seen as a proponent of Taiwanese independence. If the US is friendly toward Chen, then it might be translated into US support for Taiwanese independence, eventually drawing the US into a cross-strait war.

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