Thu, Dec 08, 2011 - Page 8 News List

Striving to divine US intentions

By Bill Chang 張國城

Politicians in Taiwan, of both political persuasions, seem to be locked into a Cold War mentality. They hint that the US, in the context of a rising China, sees Taiwan as key to Washington’s containment of Beijing’s hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region. However, at the same time the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is putting a great many of its eggs in a basket made in China and this could well lead to a qualitative change in US thinking.

When one compares the drawn-out free-trade agreement negotiations between South Korea and the EU, the US and Australia with Taiwan’s attitude toward the US beef negotiations, it is hard to believe there was no under-the-table political deal behind the signing of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) between Taiwan and China last year.

In this context, the major concern is not whether the US will observe the Six Assurances, but whether Taiwan remains democratic. As such, the proposal of a “cross-strait peace agreement” could easily be interpreted as a signal on Taiwan’s possible departure from its reliance on the US.

As Taipei worries about whether Washington is seriously considering ditching Taiwan, it is possible that Washington is equally concerned about Taipei ditching the US. As the Chinese saying goes, “worms appear only when the rot has already set in.”

Now that the idea of ditching Taiwan is out there, it is perhaps a good time for us to hold up the mirror to ourselves and engage in a little introspection.

Bill Chang is an assistant professor at Taipei Medical University.

Translated by Eddy Chang

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