A new congressional study says that the deepening of Taiwan-China economic and social links under President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) poses “increasingly difficult, competing policy challenges for the United States.”
Ma’s changes have led, the study says, “to periodic discussions about the efficacy of current US policy and whether or not it should be reviewed or changed.”
The Taipei Times recently reported that US President Barack Obama’s administration was now actively considering a major new Taiwan Policy Review.
The study by Kerry Dumbaugh, a specialist in Asian Affairs with the Congressional Research Service (CRS), is entitled Taiwan-US Relations: Developments and Policy Implications.
Ma’s initiatives are welcomed by many, the study says, for contributing to greater regional stability.
But it adds: “More pessimistic observers see growing PRC [People’s Republic of China]-Taiwan ties eroding US influence, strengthening PRC leverage and, particularly in the face of expanding economic links, jeopardizing Taiwan autonomy and economic security.”
The study says that among Obama’s policy challenges are “decisions on new arms sales to Taiwan, which are anathema to the PRC; how to accommodate requests for visits to the US by President Ma and other senior Taiwan officials; the overall nature of US relations with the Ma government; whether to pursue closer economic ties with Taiwan; what role, if any, Washington should play in cross-strait relations; and, more broadly, what form of defense assurances to offer Taiwan.”
Changes under Ma have led, the study says, to questions about “whether the United States should conduct a reassessment of its Taiwan policy in light of changing circumstances, and what the extent of such a possible reassessment should be.”
“At the very least, some say, the US needs to consider doing another comprehensive review of its Taiwan policy in order to revisit once again the 1979-1980 Taiwan Guidelines that govern US government interactions with Taiwan and with Taiwan officials,” the study says.
“Furthermore, since the 1993-’94 policy review, there have been dramatic developments in Taiwan’s political development. Taiwan has become a fully functioning democracy. In addition, since 1995 the PRC has undertaken a substantial military buildup along the coast opposite Taiwan and in 2005 Beijing adopted the anti-secession law suggesting hostile intent against Taiwan. These significant developments since 1993-94, according to this view, justify another Taiwan Policy Review to make selected changes in US policy,” it said.
“The implications of a Taiwan policy review for US-PRC relations likely would depend on the nature of the policy review itself. A substantial or comprehensive public review undoubtedly would raise concerns both in the PRC and likely in Taiwan,” the study said.