Thu, Apr 07, 2011 - Page 8 News List

The US cannot appease the Chinese

By Li Thian-hok 李天福

On the issue of Taiwan, Glaser says that a crisis over Taiwan could easily escalate to nuclear war and the US should back away from its commitment to Taiwan, saying such accommodation would smooth the way for better relations with China “in the decades to come.”

The vast majority of the 23 million residents of Taiwan regard themselves as Taiwanese and they overwhelmingly reject Chinese annexation of the nation. The Taiwanese have built a thriving democracy through the sacrifice of tens of thousands of lives over many decades and they will be loath to lose their freedom.

China wants to acquire Taiwan for two main reasons: Taiwan’s democracy is a threat to the CCP’s autocratic and repressive rule, and China needs Taiwan as a military base from which to project power into the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

Taiwan’s situation is precarious. The military balance has clearly shifted in favor of China. Chinese President Hu Jintao’s (胡錦濤) term ends at the end of next year and he plans to complete the annexation of Taiwan before then. The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) under President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is actively collaborating with the CCP to accomplish this goal, by signing a peace (read surrender) accord with Beijing. Because the KMT controls both the executive and legislative branches of government and the mass media, Taiwan’s citizens have little leverage to resist this momentum toward absorption by China.

If Taiwan were to fall by PLA coercion or internal subversion, the US would suffer a geostrategic disaster. The sea-lanes and airspace around Taiwan are critical to the survival of Japan and South Korea. Once in control of Taiwan, China would be in a position to pressure Japan and South Korea to become its vassal states. With the demise of the US-Japan military alliance, the US would be forced to retreat all the way back to Hawaii. With the combined strength of the world’s second and third-largest economies, it would not be unrealistic for China to aspire to become the world’s greatest superpower within two decades.

The acquisition of Taiwan will propel China toward expansionism and eventual conflict with the US.

“Taiwan’s security is ultimately America’s security as well,” to quote late New York congressman Gerald Solomon.

So what can the US do to avoid a seminal geostrategic failure in Asia and beyond, given the increasingly difficult task of preserving Taiwan’s freedom? US President Barack Obama’s administration needs to promptly take the following steps: Reiterate the US policy that the future of Taiwan must be resolved peacefully and with the assent of the Taiwanese people; deploy sufficient naval and air forces in the Western Pacific to deter Chinese aggression, as mandated by the Taiwan Relations Act; warn the Ma government that signing a peace accord without an internationally supervised referendum would not be acceptable to the US (the Republic of China government has no valid sovereignty over Taiwan and Washington has a right to intervene because it was US forces that liberated Taiwan from Japanese colonial rule); initiate high-level military exchanges with Taiwan to facilitate joint military planning; and speed up the sale of F-16C/D fighters and other weapons most useful in resisting a PLA invasion.

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