The US Court of Appeals in Washington recently ruled in favor of the US government in the case of Roger C.S. Lin et al v United States of America. The decision, which was written by Judge Janice Rogers Brown, stated that: “America and China’s tumultuous relationship over the past sixty years has trapped the inhabitants of Taiwan in political purgatory. During this time the people on Taiwan have lived without any uniformly recognized government. In practical terms, this means they have uncertain status in the world community, which infects the population’s day-to-day lives. This pervasive ambiguity has driven Appellants to try to concretely define their national identity and personal rights.”
Indeed, the people of Taiwan have lived in political purgatory for 60 years because the US did not establish domestic legislation or automatically execute the San Francisco Peace Treaty after signing it, nor did it act in accordance with the guiding principles of the UN Charter and other international declarations on human rights and loyally carry out its international duties and responsibilities as outlined in those treaties — i.e., end the occupation and assist Taiwan in establishing itself as an independent nation.
Nor did the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) — a domestic US law enacted to handle the problems created after the US severed diplomatic ties with the Republic of China (ROC) — handle the Taiwan issue that was created as a result of the San Francisco Peace Treaty. This has caused the Taiwanese public to suffer the dilemma of occupation by a Chinese government in exile and lack of diplomatic recognition.
While there is no doubt that the TRA has made major contributions to the security, peace and prosperity of Taiwan and the Western Pacific region and kept Taiwan free of military encroachment and annexation by China, the “one China” policy framework has caused Taiwan to lose almost any formal diplomatic recognition — be it of de facto or de jure independence. This has had a negative impact on Taiwan’s sovereignty and human rights.
From this perspective, the “one China” policy has limited Taiwan’s international relations and participation in international organizations. This has damaged Taiwan’s sovereignty, which in turn has damaged regional security. Diplomacy is a soft form of military force and the cross-strait military imbalance is the result of diplomatic imbalance, which in turn has had a negative impact on stability and prosperity in the Western Pacific area. This reasoning is borne out by Section 4(d) of the TRA which states: “Nothing in this Act may be construed as a basis for supporting the exclusion or expulsion of Taiwan from continued membership in any international financial institution or any other international organization.”
The “one China” policy has also had a negative impact on human rights. Section 2(c) of the TRA states: “Nothing contained in this Act shall contravene the interest of the United States in human rights, especially with respect to the human rights of all the approximately eighteen million inhabitants of Taiwan. The preservation and enhancement of the human rights of all the people on Taiwan are hereby reaffirmed as objectives of the United States.” Part (b) of the same section also states that it is the policy of the US “to make clear that the United States decision to establish diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China rests upon the expectation that the future of Taiwan will be determined by peaceful means.”