Taiwan's recent UN bid and intent to hold a referendum on joining the UN under the name "Taiwan" have challenged the US position on the nation's status. American Institute in Taiwan Director Stephen Young, US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte and US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian Affairs Thomas Christensen have all openly criticized the proposed referendum.
Washington finds itself in a position where it may have to join hands with China, one of the few surviving authoritarian regimes in the world, to suppress a democracy, Taiwan. This goes against the character and traditions of a country that, at its best, has shed tears and blood to promote democracy and liberty.
The US government has not offered robust support for the right of Taiwanese to self-determination or treated their pursuit of independence with respect.
Make no mistake: Taiwan has never been a part of the People's Republic of China (PRC). Taiwan's independence aspirations have everything to do with the Republic of China but nothing to do with the PRC. Washington's acquiescence is detrimental to Taiwan's nascent democracy and is an unabashed attempt to deprive Taiwanese of their constitutional right to hold a referendum. Such policies will backfire and threaten peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific.
The security and interests of the US will be adversely affected as well. Washington's instinct is to oppose moves it sees as provocative to China. Yet it watches helplessly as China builds up a military threat nearly 1,000 missiles targeting Taiwan. Appeasement and pleading can only go so far, as the US learned in the 20th century.
It's time Washington began listening to its people. It's time Washington abandoned its dysfunctional Taiwan policy. The time has come for Washington to practice what it preaches by siding with a democratic Taiwan, establishing formal US-Taiwan diplomatic relations and supporting Taiwan's entry into the world body.