In December 2003, US President George W. Bush publicly scorned President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) at a press conference by saying that "comments and actions made by the leader of Taiwan indicate that he may be willing to make decisions unilaterally to change the status quo, which we oppose."
Since then, the US has used every occasion to shovel into the brains of many voters in Taiwan the idea that there is a "status quo" which needs to be maintained at all cost. But the truth of the matter is, in life, there is no such thing as a status quo.
It was with some amusement and also amazement that I watched Stephen Young lecturing during his press conference on the "change" that is supposed to be coming in 2008 (thus making this fall the critical time at which to pass the arms budget).
But if we are to hold on to the alleged status quo, isn't "change" itself a contradiction of this concept?
In recent years, the US has been saying to Taiwanese voters not to fight nor irritate China. But now, it seems that Young is telling us to do the exact opposite and fight our neighbor.
I hope US policymakers will soon realize how inconsistent and misleading their messages from the past few years have been to the Taiwanese voters.
The US should also bear in mind that Taiwanese voters are just like everybody else the world over, in that they are not good at reading the minds of rhetorically sophisticated foreign politicians. The message, therefore, has to be clear and easy for them to understand.
I also hope that Young will work to repair the damage that former AIT director Douglas Paal has made to the Taiwan-US lines of communication. There is certainly a huge disconnect between the US and Taiwanese voters, whose votes made the pan-blue camp the controlling majority in the nation's politics.
The biggest mistake the US has made is to look at Taiwan as an afterthought to its dealings with China, resulting in Washington never making a clear effort to elaborate a Taiwan policy. How can one expect success in any matter without putting in real efforts?
What the US needs is a consistent and user-friendly Taiwan policy.
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