In a long and important commentary on Asia that will appear in the November issue of Foreign Policy magazine, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton does not mention Taiwan once.
Most other Asian countries are named at some point in the article and Clinton gives special attention to hot-spot issues such as the South China Sea and to economic factors such as trade.
Her total omission of Taiwan from the article, titled “America’s Pacific Century,” would seem to be deliberate, rather than an oversight.
A US Department of State source said he was “surprised” that the secretary had not at least “touched on” Taiwan, but he cautioned that it would be wrong to conclude that Clinton was playing down its importance.
The source, who is close to US President Barack Obama’s top policymakers for Asia, said that in ignoring Taiwan, Clinton was not “sending any messages.”
Nevertheless, Taiwan is conspicuous by its absence.
Clinton said in the article that the US had reached a “pivot point.”
“One of the most important tasks of American statecraft over the next decade will therefore be to lock in a substantially increased investment — diplomatic, economic, strategic and otherwise — in the Asia-Pacific region,” she wrote.
Clinton said that as Asia builds a more mature security and economic architecture to promote stability and prosperity, US commitment to the region was essential.
“Beyond our borders, people are also wondering about America’s intentions — our willingness to remain engaged and to lead,” Clinton wrote. “In Asia, they ask whether we are really there to stay, whether we are likely to be distracted again by events elsewhere, whether we can make — and keep — credible economic and strategic commitments, and whether we can back those commitments with action. The answer is: We can, and we will.”
Clinton said that maintaining peace and security across the Asia-Pacific region was increasingly crucial to global progress, whether through defending freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, countering the proliferation efforts of North Korea or ensuring transparency in the military activities of the region’s key players.
Clinton said the US would proceed along six key lines of action: strengthening bilateral security alliances; deepening working relationships with emerging powers, including with China; engaging with regional multinational institutions; expanding trade and investment; forging a broad-based military presence; and advancing democracy and human rights.
Turning to China, Clinton said: “We both have much more to gain from cooperation than from conflict. But you cannot build a relationship on aspirations alone.”
“It is up to both of us to more consistently translate positive words into effective cooperation. We also have to be honest about our differences. We will address them firmly and decisively,” she wrote.
Commenting on the article, the Financial Times said that Clinton was proposing a “vast expansion of US interests.”
It concluded: “Any new Asia-Pacific policy has to straddle a fundamental contradiction. US allies are growing more dependent on China economically, while strengthening security ties with Washington. That does not seem like a policy for the ages.”
In a major foreign policy speech earlier this week, Republican presidential candidate and former ambassador to China Jon Huntsman also predicted an “Asia-Pacific Century.”