Fri, Feb 22, 2019 - Page 8 News List

A president able to keep ‘status quo’ is needed

By Lin Shiou-jeng 林修正

In an open letter published on the Brookings Institution Web site on Feb. 11, former American Institute in Taiwan chairman Richard Bush made some critical remarks about the Formosa Alliance’s proposal to hold a referendum on independence for Taiwan.

His remarks have dragged many people who are impatient to see an independent Taiwan back to the reality of international politics.

The “proposal touches on the national interests of the United States, specifically its abiding interest in peace and security in the Taiwan area and its longstanding view that neither side of the Taiwan Strait should try unilaterally to change the ‘status quo,’” Bush wrote.

“If China were to use ‘non-peaceful means’ in response to … secession by Taiwan” and “if the men and women of the US armed forces are to risk their lives for the safety of Taiwan, American leaders would want to be certain that such a sacrifice was clearly necessary in light of US interests,” because “the … commitment of the United States to come to Taiwan’s defense … has never been absolute,” he wrote.

This raises a number of important points.

First, as long as Taiwan is not strong enough to seek independence on its own, or even to defend itself, it must think about what the US has really promised with respect to protecting it.

It is true that the alliance’s campaign for an independence referendum gives voice to the heartfelt aspirations of independence supporters. However, the timing is very important.

At this stage, China, not Taiwan, is the side that really wants to alter the “status quo.”

Whenever China does “try unilaterally to change the ‘status quo,’” the US naturally responds.

For the past three years, whenever China has put pressure on Taiwan, the US’ policy of defending Taiwan comes into play, and that this works to Taiwan’s benefit?

As for the alliance’s activities, they have taken what was originally a favorable situation for Taiwanese and turned it around to the advantage of China and supporters of unification.

Second, as long as Taiwan does not “try unilaterally to change the ‘status quo,’” the US government is justified in sending its troops to protect Taiwan.

If that is so, Taiwanese need not listen to warnings from China and pro-unification media that if Beijing’s wishes are not complied with, China will attack Taiwan. That is an empty threat.

To take it a step further, if Taiwanese elect a head of state who the US can trust to stick to their principles and not alter the “status quo,” then Taiwan can maintain the “status quo” in theory while already being an independent country in practice.

Why then would Taiwanese voters choose a president who leans toward unification, or one selected by China?

The most important question for safeguarding Taiwan’s security, and maintaining its economic development and its citizens’ practical independence, is how to choose a president who the US can trust to maintain the “status quo” and uphold Taiwan’s interests.

Lin Shiou-jeng is chair of Chung Chou University of Science and Technolog’s marketing and logistics management department.

Translated by Julian Clegg

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top