Thu, May 24, 2007 - Page 8 News List

AIT's Young should revise message

THE LIBERTY TIMES

In his address at Monday's member meeting of the Chinese National Association of Industry and Commerce (CNAIC, 工商協進會), American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director Stephen Young said that "A critical way to improve the US-Taiwan trade partnership is for Taiwan to further open its economic relationship with China."

He also said that "Taiwan firms should observe high standards of environmental protection and labor rights in China. This can help speed the development of a modern China that is a constructive partner for both the United States and Taiwan."

The fact that Young spoke to the president of his host country and in the language of his host country was clearly aimed at conveying a specific message.

At a press conference late last year, Young urged Taiwan's legislature to quickly pass the arms procurement bill, and earlier this moth, on May 3, he offered a further impetus.

"It is no question that over the last decade China has deployed a large number of short-range missiles that threaten Taiwan," he said.

On the same occasion, Young also said "I am quite frankly puzzled by the reticence of the Taiwan political system and the Legislature to fund the current defense budget that is still being considered, including appropriate monies for the purchase of the Patriot III missile battery."

The implication is that Young is very clear on the threat that China poses to Taiwan. That threat, he points out, has by no means been diminished. By urging Taiwan to "further open its economic relationship" with China, isn't he actually telling Taiwan to knowingly put itself in harm's way?

If the relationship between Taiwan and China was that of two normal states, economic exchanges could follow market rules.

The naked reality, however, is that economic exchanges between the two are not the mutually beneficial exchanges that occur between regular countries. Instead, it is a war of economic unification based on China's ambition to annex Taiwan, defined by a Chinese government directive that states that "the meaning of trade with Taiwan shall be understood based on the strategy to achieve peaceful unification of the motherland" gives the best explanation of China's ambitions to promote unification through economic means.

Even so, Taiwan has continued to invest heavily in China over the past twenty years, with Taiwanese investment in China as a proportion of the national GDP being the highest in the world.

The problem is not that Taiwanese investment in China is insufficient; rather, it is excessive in the extreme. This really means that the negative consequences of continued deregulation of Taiwanese investments in China will be even more worrisome.

Perhaps Young doesn't completely understand the complexities of this situation. A deeper economic relationship with China is precisely the stance the pro-China pan-blue camp is using to block the national defense budget.

According to their rationale, an expansion of the trade relationship between Taiwan and China, the removal of investment caps and the opening up of the three direct links (mail, cargo, and transportation) will build peace in the Taiwan Strait -- a policy choice that will make a defense budget superfluous. It is easy to see how the pan blue camp might use Young's message to further pressure the government to deregulate investments in China and to oppose the national defense budget. Could this really be what Young proposes?

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