Mon, Jul 02, 2007 - Page 8 News List

History creates present problems

By Chen Hurng-yu 陳鴻瑜

When Henry Kissinger, national security adviser to US president Richard Nixon, met Chinese premier Zhou Enlai (周恩來) on Oct, 21, 1971, he said that the US was"not encouraging any government to maintain the position that the status is undetermined ... But [I cannot confirm] what tactical position we will take if another government raises whether the status of Taiwan is undetermined. I can confirm our position to bring about peaceful solution within the framework of one China."

Kissinger's words had an important influence on the US' Taiwan policy. Washington had assured Beijing it would not say that "the status of Taiwan is still undetermined," but deep down, the US kept thinking that it was. And because the status of Taiwan was still undetermined, the US could build up relations with Taiwan on all levels through the Taiwan Relations Act. How would the US resolve these difficult issues? That's where the talk about the "status quo" came in.

When we look at how the whole situation has evolved, we see that the reason this issue has become so complicated was mostly that Nixon, because he wanted a quick end to the Vietnam War, completely trusted Kissinger's plans, to the point that he was defeated in the UN and in his talks with China.

The US should remember this lesson and not again try to feed Beijing's hunger for power by putting pressure on Taiwan. The more the US stresses that a referendum in Taiwan will increase cross-strait tensions, the more China is encouraged in its aggression toward Taiwan and its talk of military action against Taiwan.

If it is US strategy to view Taiwan's status as undetermined, it should make a public appeal to all the peace-loving people in the world, especially China's government and its people, to respect the Taiwanese people's will.

As long-term US allies, the people of Taiwan are waiting for Washington to change its view on the status of Taiwan, and for it to view Taiwan as a country that can participate in international affairs and have its share of international rights and obligations.

Chen Hurng-yu is a professor at Tamkang University.

Translated by Anna Stiggelbout

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