THE MORE they protest, the more time and verbiage they expend and the more they insist that they respect Taiwan's democracy, the more obvious it becomes. The US State Department, its officials and henchmen seem to have made another secret deal with China to limit and control the democracy and freedom of Taiwan.
American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Chairman Raymond Burghardt recently finished up a special trip to Taiwan to talk to both presidential candidates; he also sought reassurances from President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) that he would honor his past pledges and do nothing drastic in his last months in office. Earlier, AIT Director Stephen Young visited Chen to also obtain similar assurances. During a round table with reporters on Dec. 6, US Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Christensen replayed the worn record of how much the US needed to make its position clear, very clear. We had heard the same lines from US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, NSC Senior Director for East Asian Affairs Dennis Wilder and Christensen in September.
Any rational person must wonder at the overkill, concern and effort to clarify ad nauseam that the US cares deeply about Taiwan's democracy -- except that it doesn't want Taiwan to practice it. The issue is Taiwan's UN referendum, a referendum that everyone agrees will have no binding power or consequence. So why all the effort? Shades of US secretary of state Henry Kissinger, the sellout king par excellence: Has the US made another secret deal with China and let China define the terms?
Credibility Ranking Zero: Will someone please throw these US officials more straws to grasp at. The lady doth protest too much. While they try to place the burden of sincerity and responsibility on Chen, the spotlight instead focuses on them.
These are the people who repeatedly insist that they have not changed their "one China" policy.
But they have. These are the people who justified war by insisting that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. But there weren't. These are the same people who insist that they have always done what is best for Taiwan. But they haven't.
Have you ever wondered why Taiwan is the only country that seems capable of upsetting the fictitious "status quo" in the Taiwan Strait? Have you ever wondered why Taiwan is the only country of the three (China, Taiwan and the US) that is bound to honor its pledges, that Taiwan is the only country that has had to spell out its pledges?
Can anyone clearly state what the US is obligated to do regarding Taiwan and the "status quo"? Can anyone clearly state what China is obligated to do regarding Taiwan and the "status quo"? The burden only falls on Taiwan and evidence shows that this burden comes from a secret deal that Taiwan was not privy to.
US policy on Taiwan and China is vacuous, vague and vapid. It has purposely been kept this way for more than half a century so that no one can clearly define the US' obligations. China, on the other hand, has always insisted that it has no obligations except the right to declare war when it feels offended and that it can move the goal posts that determine what offends it when it so pleases.
That so much effort has been expended over such minutia as Taiwan's UN referendum can only point to one thing: a secret deal with China in which the US contains Taiwan in the ways and minutiae that China wants Taiwan contained.
What exactly could or does the US gain from such a secret deal with China? Could it be a host of cheap products? Port privileges for its navy? Token help with North Korea? A promise of help with Iran after China finishes selling Iran what it needs to build nuclear weapons? What exactly is the US getting out of jumping through these hoops for China and why does it always let China define the terms and limits of the agreements?
This is the same US that does not hesitate to support Kosovo's independence in opposition to Russia. This is the same US that continues to force feed democracy on three disparate groups in Iraq. This is the same US that made secret deals with China prior to the Shanghai Communique.
Burghardt's message ended with the words that new leaders present a new opportunity to solve problems on important issues.
He did not want Chen to cause problems for his successor. It is no wonder that the US shows favoritism for wishy-washy KMT presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who is also China's favorite in the upcoming elections.
However, the US is also going to have a new leadership soon. Will its new president be bound by the secret deals of the past? Will he or she have a new opportunity to solve problems and deal with the important issues of the Taiwan Strait in a new way? Will we even see some new faces in the State Department?
Jerome Keating is a Taiwan-based writer.
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