Thu, May 24, 2007 - Page 8 News List

AIT's Young should revise message


Just as with the US and other countries, Taiwan's foreign trade policy, especially with respect to China, is just one link in an overall national policy.

With China's menacing stance toward Taiwan still unchanged, Taiwan cannot afford to actively pursue liberalization and blindly "charge west" across the Taiwan Strait. Such a move could have serious side effects on Taiwan's economic and national security, and even on its national identity.

Young's frequent pleas to the legislature to pass the arm's procurement budget demonstrates his clear understanding of the fact that China-Taiwan relations are not merely issues of economics and trade. Perhaps he has been under pressure from US business; however, focusing only on economics and ignoring strategic considerations are not in the US' overall interests either.

As Young said during a May 3 press conference, "The United States is not only the best but really the only security partner Taiwan has."

This being the case, Taiwan has not only strategically cooperated with the US-Japan security alliance, but it has also always hoped to sign a free trade agreement (FTA) with the US to reduce the lure of the Chinese economy and strengthen Taiwan's economic security.

Unfortunately, the US has been unwilling to sign a FTA with Taiwan for many years and has instead awarded China "Most Favored Nation" status. Taiwan has also faced repeated pressure from the US, which has requested over and over again that Taiwan liberalize investment regulations in China. But with Taiwanese industries being hollowed out by the China gold rush, the question remains: Who will employ Taiwanese workers? How will Taiwanese be able to make a living?

Then there is the issue of Taiwan helping China modernize. China's economy has grown rapidly in recent years thanks to an infusion of capital from international investors, including Taiwan. But China hasn't used these resources to improve people's lives or spur democratic reform. On the contrary, China has blatantly expanded its military power, of which the nearly 1,000 missiles aimed at Taiwan are just one example.

China's defense budget has grown by double digits each year. Within a short period of time it will be able to penetrate Japanese waters to track the US aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk based in Yokosuka, Japan, as well as test-fire more anti-satellite missiles.

This certainly isn't the modernization that Young is hoping for. Instead, it is a dangerous military modernization, and China has Taiwan planted firmly between its cross hairs.

The economic aspect of China's unification campaign is motivated by the desire to annex Taiwan, not a wish to establish a constructive partnership. Therefore, Taiwan must use all resources at its disposal to defend its sovereignty and independence.

With this in mind, Taiwan would be ill-advised to recklessly pursue active cross-strait liberalization. Since the US sees Taiwan as a security partner, it naturally ought to understand Taiwan's economic and trade policy toward China, and it should cooperate with Taiwan's overall policies aimed at maintaining its sovereignty and independence.

Imagine if, on one hand, Taiwan must face China's military threat, economic unification campaign, diplomatic siege and desire to destroy Taiwanese sovereignty, while on the other hand, it must bear US demands that Taiwan further liberalize its economic relations with China, as well as occasional US pressure because of Chinese pressure on the US.

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