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.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday last week, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei City Councilor Hsu Chiao-hsin (徐巧芯) wrote: “The KMT must fall for Taiwan to improve.’ Allow me to ask the question again: Is this really true?” It matters not how many times Hsu asks the question, my answer will always be the same: “Yes, the KMT must be toppled for Taiwan to improve.” In the lengthy Facebook post, titled “What were those born in the 1980s guilty of?” Hsu harked back to the idealistic aspirations of the 2014 Sunflower movement before heaping opprobrium on the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP)
The scuffle between Chinese embassy staffers in Fiji and a Taiwanese diplomat at a Republic of China (ROC) Double Ten National Day celebration has turned into a public relations opportunity for the government, Beijing and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). Although the incident occurred on Oct. 8, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) downplayed it, only for the story to be picked up by the foreign media, forcing the ministry to respond. The public and opposition parties asked why the government had failed to remonstrate more strongly in the first instance. It is still unclear whether the ministry missed a trick
US President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival, former US vice president Joe Biden, are holding their final debate tonight. In their foreign policy debate, China is sure to be a major issue of contention for the two candidates. Here are several questions the moderator should pose to the candidates: For both: In the first televised US presidential debates in 1960, then-Democratic candidate John F. Kennedy and his Republican counterpart, Richard Nixon, were asked whether the US should intervene if communist China attacked Taiwan’s outlying islands of Kinmen and Matsu. Kennedy said no, unless the main island of Taiwan was also attacked.
For most of us, the colorful, otherworldly marinescapes of coral reefs are as remote as the alien landscapes of the moon. We rarely, if ever, experience these underwater wonderlands for ourselves — we are, after all, air-breathing, terrestrial creatures mostly cocooned in cities. It is easy not to notice the perilous state they are in: We have lost 50 percent of coral reefs in the past 20 years and more than 90 percent are expected to die by 2050, a presentation at the Ocean Sciences Meeting in San Diego, California, earlier this year showed. As the oceans heat further and