Sun, Aug 26, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Restoring diplomatic relations is best option

By Shen Chieh 沈潔

Former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton has said that the US should restore diplomatic relations with Taiwan in order to protect US interests and that he did not believe China would act following such a decision. This is in line with the fundamental wishes of a majority of Taiwanese, namely that the international community accept the "status quo" with one country on each side of the Taiwan Strait.

Past US policy on the Taiwan Strait has been to put pressure on Taiwan rather than reviewing its own policy mistakes. The solution most fitting to Taiwan Strait security, US interests, democracy and justice is for the US to acknowledge the "status quo" -- Taiwan's status as a state -- and allow Taiwan to join international organizations.

Now there are three major forces to keep in mind should the US go this course:

The first of these is the "legal system" faction. These are the old Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) members who hold the view that the Republic of China (ROC) is a sovereign country, but they don't want to admit that its territory and people is limited to Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu.

The second force is the localization faction which claims that Taiwan is already a sovereign and independent country. This group is of the opinion that Taiwan is both a de jure and a de facto sovereign country. This group further believes that it is necessary to eradicate the historical remnants of the former alien regime's violent rule, and that there is no need for a formal declaration of independence.

A majority of the general public has identified with the faction's view that if the international community acknowledges Taiwan's status as a sovereign country and does not allow Chinese tyranny to interfere, peace and safety across the Taiwan Strait may get real protection.

The third force consists of those who believe that Taiwan is not yet a sovereign country.

It includes the "legal system" faction and and the part of the traditional Taiwanese independence faction which attaches importance to formalities.

But these two groups start from different points. The "legal system" group doesn't want Taiwan to become a country, while the third group, the traditional Taiwan independence group sees the mistakes of international power politics as Taiwan's own mistakes. They confuse political considerations of recognition with the objective conditions for the existence of a country and believe that a formal declaration of independence is necessary for Taiwan to obtain the position and recognition due to a country.

The first "legal system" group has already been rejected by the US; the second localization faction and the third group -- those who want a declaration of independence -- are under pressure from the US. The US failure to acknowledge what the "status quo" entails, while saying that it wants to maintain that "status quo," is in fact yielding to Chinese threats.

If Washington does not accept the view that the "status quo" is that Taiwan is a sovereign country, it will inevitably increase the momentum of the group that believes Taiwan is not yet independent.

The solution most conducive to peace and stability is the one Bolton proposed -- that the US and Taiwan restore diplomatic relations. China is already heavily dependent on its foreign relations and will have to be pragmatic about US and international recognition of a "status quo" that means Taiwan is a sovereign and independent country. If the US can ignore Russia and insist on independence for Kosovo, it should not neglect the rights and interests of the Taiwanese public and forever yield to China's threats.

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