Real source of instability
The Miller Center of Public Affairs’ A Way Ahead with China: Steering the Right Course for the Middle Kingdom proposes the US and China build relations based on, among other things: “Stability; predictability; understanding of similarities and differences; candor, and ideally, trust.”
For the US-China dynamic to improve, the US should reassess its commitment to Taiwan since its “involvement with Taiwan is a frequent point of contention with the Chinese,” the report says.
This report disingenuously attributes the uncertainty of US-China relations to US support of Taiwan and implies that the US wastes political capital by assisting the “economically successful democratic institution” that is Taiwan, which will likely become absorbed by China as it “is slowly tending towards greater alignment with the Mainland” anyway.
Therefore, the US should focus less on whether increased integration between authoritarian China and democratic Taiwan promotes human rights and focus more on unconditionally pursuing the center’s “ideal US/China relationship” of “consistent, reliable responses on both sides.”
Actually, the US-China dynamic has been very “consistent.” In 1981, the late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平) insisted the US cease its arms sales to Taiwan. In 2005, Chinese General Zhu Chenghu (朱成虎) said: “If the Americans are determined to interfere we will be determined to respond” and “we ... will prepare ourselves for the destruction of all of the cities east of Xian. Of course, the Americans will have to be prepared that hundreds ... of cities will be destroyed by the Chinese.”
Last year, in response to US President Barack Obama’s approval of US$6.4 billion in arms sales to Taiwan, Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) said: “To the Chinese people, nothing is more important than safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has persistently defined the “reunification” of China and Taiwan as a “core interest.” Basically, the CCP will risk partial mutually assured destruction with the US in order to safeguard its legitimacy, largely dependent on the realization of its territorial ambitions and continued reversal of China’s “century of humiliation.”
Given the CCP thought process, is Taiwan the obstacle to peaceful, progressive US-China relations, or is the CCP the obstacle to peaceful, progressive US-Chinese, as well as cross-strait, relations?
In 1972, the US acknowledged having a “one China” policy. Former US president George W. Bush’s administration pointedly thanked the Chinese government for its conscientious response to the North Korean nuclear threat and overall support in the fight against terrorism. To emphasize parity in US-China engagement, the Obama administration has tempered its criticism of China.
The 1991 Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) charter sought to establish through a referendum, a Republic of Taiwan and a new constitution. In its 1999 Resolution on Taiwan’s Future, the DPP declared Taiwan already independent and sovereign, and that de jure independence was unnecessary.
The US and Taiwan’s compromises demonstrate goodwill toward China. The CCP now needs to prove its commitment to Zheng Bijian’s (鄭必堅) “peaceful rise” concept by evaluating the necessity and imagined benefits of its “one China” principle as well as its relentless diplomatic and military belligerence toward Taiwan.
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