Sun, Jul 16, 2017 - Page 6 News List

The Liberty Times Editorial: Opportunities and independence

A major general of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) revealed that former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), while he was in office, intended to send four military officials to China for a military exchange, and Beijing had likewise wanted to send four military officials to Taiwan.

However, these plans were hindered by the US before they were realized.

Ma’s office rejected the Chinese military officer’s report, saying: “There was nothing of the sort.”

The major general also said that the US had drawn five “red lines” regarding Taiwan: The two sides of the Taiwan Strait cannot establish military confidence-building mechanisms; cannot unite against other claimants in South China Sea disputes; cannot unite against Japan over the issue of the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台); cannot communicate on military technology; and cannot establish institutional interactions between their retired personnel.

Obviously, unlike their political liaisons, ties between the militaries controlled by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) are taboo to the US.

Last year, the China Military Power Report by the US Department of Defense said that Washington would continue to help Taiwan maintain its own self-defense capacity, but it would not support Taiwanese independence.

The administration of US President Donald Trump has repeatedly stressed the message that it is committed to its own “one China” policy, and is against any change to the “status quo” by any party.

Despite repeated opposition from Beijing, successive US administrations still comply with the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) “to provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character.”

On June 29, the Trump administration approved its first arms sales to Taiwan, worth US$1.42 billion, causing a subtle shift in the relationship between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平).

Trump does not play cards the way Xi wants, but this is incomprehensible if Taiwan is not considered “a substantive independent state,” a fact with which US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also agrees.

The reason that KMT-CCP military exchanges are so disturbing is because deep down, the US regards China as an opposing power.

Therefore, arms sales to Taiwan, but failure to support its independence is a curious mix-and-match of action and rhetoric.

In public, the US sells arms to Taiwan and assures its defense to ensure the peaceful resolution of cross-strait disagreements.

However, as long as the peace in the strait is guaranteed, it is not only beneficial to the US, but to Taiwan as well.

On the issue of so-called “peaceful unification,” as long as peace is a prerequisite, nearly all Taiwanese would choose independence.

As for unification by force, the US has always clearly said through its Pacific Command that it would not allow Chinese aggression.

The US Department of Defense and the US Congress support strengthening Taiwan’s defense capabilities and US presidents have always realized the strategic scenario of defending the nation at critical moments.

Determining motivation from action, it is reasonable to say that on the surface, the US supports the defense of the nation, but under the table, it supports independence.

At Xi’s demand, the Trump administration said that: “There is no change ... to our long-standing one China policy.”

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