Sun, Feb 04, 2018 - Page 6 News List

The Liberty Times Editorial: Creating a cross-strait win-win

Since the Republic of China national flag was deleted from Taiwan-related pages on certain US government Web sites, members of the opposition pan-blue camp have been jeering the government and accusing it of failing to uphold the nation’s dignity.

However, this incident can be seen in the wider context, including the US’ 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, which recommends resuming port-of-call visits between the US and Taiwanese navies, and the Taiwan Travel Act, which proposes lifting restrictions on interactions between the US and Taiwan.

Taken in this broader context, it could be seen as a signal that the US, prompted by China’s increasingly forceful military threats to Taiwan, is seeking to clarify its “one China” policy. It is worth considering what signals the move, at this particular time, is meant to send to Taiwan and China.

There has in the past few months been more discussion, both in Taiwan and abroad, about possible Chinese aggression against Taiwan. The direct reasons for this are, of course, various things that have been happening since the Chinese Communist Party’s 19th National Congress in October last year. These include circumnavigations of Taiwan by the Chinese aircraft carrier the Liaoning, harassment of Taiwan by Chinese fighter jets and China’s unilateral activation of northbound air traffic on the M503 flight route.

There is nothing new about China’s refusal to renounce using military force against Taiwan. It is just that this policy tends to be obscured by the smoke screen of China’s peaceful “united front” policies and because peace is an important foundation of China-US relations.

However, in 2005, China enacted its “Anti-Secession” Law, which provides a basis in Chinese domestic law for taking military action against Taiwan. Taiwan must treat the possibility of armed aggression or invasion as a constant in cross-strait relations and take that into account when deciding on its national security policies, and our armed forces must be prepared for all eventualities, no matter how peaceful the situation might seem. It is perfectly reasonable for Taiwan to think along these lines.

If China were to attack Taiwan, it would not be a Chinese internal affair, as China claims. On the contrary, it would most definitely be an international affair. One reason to say so is that the country with the most influence over Taiwan’s sovereignty, namely the US, does not recognize Taiwan as belonging to the People’s Republic of China, and because the Taiwan Relations Act, which the US Congress drew up at the same time as the US established diplomatic relations with China, lays down in black and white the US’ commitment to assist in defending Taiwan’s security.

The US has been implementing the terms of the Taiwan Relations Act for 40 years without China being able to do anything about it. When China threatened Taiwan over its first direct presidential election in 1996, then-US president Bill Clinton ordered two aircraft carrier battle groups to sail close to Taiwan and remain there on standby, thereby demonstrating the US’ strength of will regarding Taiwan’s sovereignty.

Taiwan-friendly figures have been appointed to Taiwan-related departments in US President Donald Trump’s administration, while Taiwan’s strategic role has been defined as part of Trump’s “free and open Indo-Pacific” plan, thus reaffirming the US’ will to support Taiwan’s sovereignty.

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