Calls by what remains a small number of voices in the US academic community for Washington to “ditch” Taiwan for the sake of better relations with China reached a new low last week with the publication of an opinion piece in the New York Times by Paul Kane, a former international security fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School.
Earlier this year, a handful of articles were published in journals, including Foreign Affairs, making the case that realist US foreign policy required the abandonment of Taiwan to clear the way for a full relationship with China in difficult economic times. Reactions to those pieces then showed beyond doubt that the arguments advanced by those academics failed on several grounds, including moral.
As this newspaper argued in response to the previous articles, the 23 million people who inhabit this nation are not mere commodities who can be traded by larger nations on a diplomatic chessboard. Not only is the commodification of human beings morally bankrupt, it is also a recipe for disaster, as the subjects — treated as pawns in the machinations of great power politics — are unlikely to regard such decisions with equanimity.
Just as Cambodia was treated as mere sideshow to the Vietnam War by the administration of then-US president Richard Nixon, creating, among other things, the political conditions that allowed for the emergence of the genocidal Khmer Rouge, regarding Taiwan in the same manner for the sake of diplomatic or economic returns by Beijing is dangerously shortsighted and naive. For one, no Taiwanese would accept the imposition of a political system that is not only alien to them, but that is also repressive and undemocratic. Not to mention that Beijing is unlikely to become a responsible stakeholder simply because Taiwan has been “returned” to the “motherland.”
It was not originality that set Kane’s op-ed apart from its predecessors, but rather how poorly it fared in every respect. So much so, that in the backlash that ensued, it managed to make academics who do not see eye-to-eye on Taiwan agree with one another. Even in economic terms, Kane’s proposed strategy of “selling out” Taiwan so that Beijing would forgive the US’ trillion-dollar-plus debt would, as Business Insider showed on Friday, only succeed in crippling China’s banking system.
It boggles the mind that a reputable publication like the New York Times would open its coveted editorial space to a “defense expert” whose credentials are far less than meets the eye. Kane, who has a bachelor’s degree in political economy from the University of Maryland, was a fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School for only one year and did not obtain a degree there. He served in Iraq for one year, in 2003, in political affairs. Sources describe him as a “poseur” and a “climber” who should not have been allowed to set foot in Harvard to begin with.
The question, then, is why, given the author’s rather dubious academic credentials and the many flaws in the article, the Times allowed what can only be described as facetious hogwash to appear in its pages. Should it bother to get Taiwan’s story right, there are a good number of academics in the US and abroad to whom it could have turned for columns on China and Taiwan. Kane is not one of them.
His piece, rather than convincing decision makers, achieved the opposite and undermined the paper’s credibility in the process.
Since COVID-19 broke out in Taiwan, there has been a fair amount of news regarding discrimination and “witch hunts” against medical personnel, people under self-quarantine and other targets, such as the students of a school where an infection was discovered. Quarantine breakers are almost certainly on the loose and it is only natural for people to be vigilant. One in Chiayi was found by accident at a traffic stop because his helmet was not fastened. However, those who follow the rules by quarantining themselves should be encouraged to keep up the good work in a difficult situation, instead of being
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator-at-large Wu Sz-huai (吳斯懷) has said that there is a huge difference between Chinese military aircraft circling Taiwan along the edges of its airspace and invading Taiwan’s airspace. He also said that whether it is US or Chinese aircraft flying along or encircling Taiwan’s airspace, there is no legal basis to say that such actions imply a clear provocation of Taiwan, and asked the Ministry of National Defense not to mislead the public. People who hear this might think that it is not a very Taiwanese thing to say. US military activity in the vicinity of Taiwan
As the nation welcomes home Taiwanese who had been stranded in China’s Hubei Province — arguably one of the most dangerous places on Earth since the novel coronavirus outbreak began in its capital, Wuhan, late last year — problems surrounding the “quasi-charter flights” that brought them back have been largely overlooked. The media used the term to describe the two flights dispatched by Taiwan’s state-run China Airlines because they do not count as charter flights. Taiwanese wanting to board those flights had to travel — most likely by train — more than 1,000km from Hubei to Shanghai Pudong International Airport
As the COVID-19 pandemic spins out of control, many parts of the world are experiencing shortages of medical masks and other protective equipment. I am studying in Washington state, which at the time of writing is the US state that has suffered the largest number of deaths from the novel coronavirus. The week before last, UW Medicine — an organization that includes the University of Washington School of Medicine and associated medical centers and clinics — sent its volunteers an e-mail asking the public to make masks and donate them to hospitals. Attached to the message was a mask donation