Friday marked the 30th anniversary of the passage of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) in the US. Over the last three decades, the TRA has greatly contributed to Taiwan’s security, peace across the Taiwan Strait and the development of democracy and freedom in Taiwan.
However, the US stance has never caused China to change its plan to annex Taiwan and as China’s strength grows, it continues to advance its unification agenda and expand its political, economic and national security threats against Taiwan
The cross-strait “status quo” has changed since the government of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) came to power on May 20 last year. These changes have come about because Ma and his administration fail to see the severe ramifications that losing national sovereignty will have on Taiwan. The government sees China as the only way to save Taiwan’s economy and thinks that Taiwan will experience economic growth if they just keep relaxing China policies.
There are many doubts and concerns in Taiwan about what an economic cooperation agreement framework between Taiwan and China would actually entail. Many people oppose it and there are increasingly widespread calls for a referendum on the matter.
However, the government insists that Taiwan will not be marginalized and that national sovereignty will not be affected if the government does sign such an agreement with China. This lopsided policy toward China not only sends the wrong message to the international community by saying that Taiwan accepts China’s position, it also pushes Taiwan further down the road to “peaceful unification” with China. It causes more of Taiwan’s sovereignty to be swallowed up by China just as China swallows up more of Taiwan’s economic resources. Under these circumstances, Taiwan’s future will be under China’s total control.
The TRA emphasizes Taiwan’s security, which contributes to peace and security in the Western Pacific region and is inextricably linked to US interests.
However, the Ma administration is still leaning heavily toward China and ignoring the threats to Taiwan’s national security as China increases its military power and international influence.
This reckless attitude has caused changes to the fundamental structure of trilateral relations between Taiwan, the US and China.
After 30 years of the TRA, any developments will influence these relations and will also have serious ramifications for Taiwan’s future. The TRA will be a great challenge to the diplomatic policies of US President Barack Obama and his administration.
Taiwan’s future must be decided by the 23 million people of Taiwan and at this critical historical juncture, we have to ask ourselves whether we have made the necessary preparations for any of the possible developments.
These are serious issues that we must not ignore and must handle with great care.
Chen Lung-chu is president of the Taiwan New Century Foundation.
TRANSLATED BY DREW CAMERON