Former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton called on Taiwan to renounce China’s “outlandish claims” to disputed territories in the East and South China Seas.
According to Bolton, now a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, China’s goal is to sow discord among its competitors by pitting Vietnam against the Philippines, isolating Japan and “neutralizing” Taiwan.
“Potential hostilities are no longer hypothetical,” Bolton wrote in the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.
Photo: Wang Min-wei, Taipei Times
Bolton said he believed the US must work diplomatically, “largely behind the scenes,” to resolve differences among the other claimants — including Taiwan.
Earlier this week, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs asked claimants to the South China Sea dispute to invite Taiwan to join discussions on formulating a code of conduct for the region.
The ministry reiterated that the Pratas Islands (Dongsha, 東沙島), the Spratly Islands (Nansha Islands, 南沙群島), the Macclesfield Bank (Zhongsha Islands, 中沙群島) and the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) belong to Taiwan.
The four island groups and their surrounding waters — potentially rich in natural resources — are also claimed either entirely or in part by China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei.
“The more intra-ASEAN disputes we can eliminate, the greater the potential for a common position,” Bolton wrote. “This pragmatic diplomatic strategy of resolving non-Chinese competing claims hardly guarantees positive results, but it beats repeating academic mantras about international law.”
“Taiwan could also help politically by renouncing China’s outlandish claims to disputed territories,” he added.
Bolton said that China sees the disputed waters, islands, reefs and rock outcroppings through a “prism of increasing proximity.”
He condemned the US Navy cuts due to “draconian” budget reductions and US President Barack Obama’s “diffidence” in protecting US interests abroad.
Bolton urged the US to “decide unequivocally” that Beijing’s expansionism in the East and South China Seas is contrary to US national interests.
“These are high, tangible stakes for us and our Asian and Pacific friends, ranging broadly from Japan and South Korea to Australia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) including Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines,” Bolton wrote.
The stakes, he said, include undersea mineral resources and sea lanes of communication and trade critical to US and global prosperity.
“This is about power and resolve,” Bolton said.
He added that the US’ approach — watching while initially minor incidents risk escalating — puts Washington at a distinct disadvantage.
“Passivity will allow Beijing to prevail repeatedly, incident after incident, until US weakness becomes so palpable that there is no doubt of China’s across-the-board success,” he wrote.
“America’s China policy should be comprehensive, agile and persistent, but one fixed element must be that the international waters around China will not become Lake Beijing,” he concluded.
In related news, a former chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) said yesterday that the row over the disputed Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) could be worse.
Speaking in Taipei at the launch of the Chinese-language version of his book The Perils of Proximity: China-Japan Security Relations, Richard Bush said that “if Shintaro Ishihara, the governor of Tokyo, had bought the islands,” instead of the Japanese government, the situation would have been much worse.
The Japanese government signed a ￥2.05 billion (US$26 million) deal on Tuesday to buy three of the Diaoyutai Islands, which are claimed by Japan, Taiwan and China.
This has caused tensions to rise in the region, as the Taiwanese and Chinese governments voiced strong protests against Japan’s move.
Bush said that if Ishihara, a well-known right-wing nationalist, had succeeded in buying the islands, it would have made people in Taiwan, Hong Kong and China “extremely unhappy.”
“It [the situation] is still uncertain, but I think we’ve avoided a disaster,” Bush said.
Additional reporting by CNA
TWO CASES: The five allegedly conspired with conglomerates, threatening the nation’s governance and subverting the rules of ethical conduct, a deputy chief prosecutor said Taipei prosecutors yesterday charged three legislators and one former lawmaker with contravening the Anti-Corruption Act (貪污治罪條例) in a case linked to former Pacific Distribution Investment Co (太平洋流通) chairman Lee Heng-lung’s (李恆隆) battle with the Far Eastern Group (遠東集團) over ownership of the Pacific SOGO Department Store (太平洋崇光百貨) chain, while independent Legislator Chao Cheng-yu (趙正宇) was indicted in a separate case involving two funeral services companies and a plot of land in a national park. Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Chen Chao-ming (陳超明) and Sufin Siluko (廖國棟), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Su Chen-ching (蘇震清) and former New Power Party legislator
Swedish Member of Parliament Hampus Hagman is pushing for changing the name of the nation’s trade office in Taipei to signal improved relations with “Asia’s perhaps foremost democracy.” Hagman on Wednesday last week proposed renaming the Swedish Trade and Invest Council to “Sweden’s Office in Taipei,” following similar changes by other nations. The Swedish Trade and Invest Council, part of Business Sweden, is owned by the Swedish government and Swedish industry. Taiwan and Sweden share important values such as respect for democracy, human rights, the rule of law and freedom of speech, Hagman said in the motion, adding that the two nations
PENGHU INSPECTION: Taiwan cannot let its enemies strut around in its airspace, Tsai said, one day after a Chinese spokesman denied a median line exists in the Taiwan Strait Following China’s assertion on Monday that there is no “median line” in the Taiwan Strait, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday pledged to defend the nation’s airspace during a visit to an air force base in Penghu, saying that Taiwan cannot allow others to flex their military muscle in its territorial airspace. Tsai praised the “heroic performance” of the pilots of the Indigenous Defense Fighters who have been intercepting Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force planes in recent days. “I have a lot of confidence in you. As soldiers of the Republic of China [ROC], how could we let enemies strut
EFFICIENCY: The rules for Philippine arrivals were revised after 17.6% of arrivals with symptoms tested positive, compared with 0.7% of those with no symptoms Starting today, Chinese spouses who hold a reunion permit can apply to enter Taiwan and travelers without symptoms from the Philippines do not need to be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival, but are to be tested after a 14-day quarantine, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that from today, Chinese who are married to a Taiwanese citizen and hold a reunion permit can apply to the National Immigration Agency for entry into Taiwan. Chinese who are married to a foreign national and hold an accompanied reunion permit