China once again shows how to use diplomacy

By Huang Tien-lin 黃天麟  / 

Tue, Feb 08, 2011 - Page 8

The use of communiques and statements to gradually restrain the US and isolate Taiwan is a special skill that China has developed over many years. Beijing uses these communiques and statements to build a wall designed to keep the US and other countries from interfering in “China’s business.” Despite some notable successes, realities such as military strength and international pressure have so far stopped Beijing from laying its hands on Taiwan.

This is why the strategy to promote unification through economic means has become China’s top strategy and time is proving it to be an effective approach. As the strategy continues to develop through its different stages, the questions from Taiwanese about the “one China” market — such as the loss of economic sovereignty and domestic job opportunities — are also increasing.

Beijing clearly feels that the most effective way to calm the wave of protest among Taiwanese is if outside observers, the US in particular, support its strategy from the sidelines.

This request by China may not seem to have anything to do with the national sovereignty issue and it is frequently accommodated by US officials.

Just as China hoped, phrases such as: “We welcome the increasing frequency of cross-strait exchanges” and other “pretty lies” roll so easily off the tongues of US officials visiting China that they are becoming gradually formalized.

In the China-US joint statement issued by US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) during Hu’s recent visit to Washington, the US could not leave out mentioning “that the United States follows its one China policy and abides by the principles of the three US-China Joint Communiques,” or fulfilling China’s hopes — maybe even demands — by saying that the US “applauds the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement [ECFA] between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait and welcomes the new lines of communications developing between them.”

This is symbolic of the formalization of China’s economic approach and it makes it clear that a signature is the only thing missing from a future joint US-China “Taiwan Strait economic communique.”

Such a communique would do more damage to Taiwan than the three US-China joint communiques. At the very least, the recent joint statement achieved two things: It helped legitimize and internationalize the “one China” market and the ECFA, and it has helped the pro-China Taiwanese government consolidate its position ahead of next year’s presidential election.

Huang Tien-lin is a former national policy adviser.