Mon, Dec 20, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Status quo `threatened' by new law

UNILATERAL China's anti-secession draft bill is a move aimed at changing the status quo and will trigger action in Taiwan, a former US official said

By Wang Hsiao-wen  /  STAFF REPORTER

Bruce Herchensohn, former deputy special assistant to former US president Richard Nixon and professor at Pepperdine University in California.

PHOTO: SEAN CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES

The noted US academic Bruce Herschensohn warned Saturday that China's plan to draft an anti-secession law amounts to change in the cross-strait status quo, a subversive move that could test Taiwan's limits and put a strain on relations with its allies.

Herschensohn, a former deputy special assistant to former US president Richard Nixon and a member of the Reagan transition team, said the anti-secession draft law may negate Taiwan's sovereignty if it is enacted.

"The anti-secession law is a very serious problem, and what may be even more serious is the possibility of [Taiwan] losing diplomatic relations [with its allies]," he said.

Herschensohn did not predict how the US State Department will react to Beijing's anti-succession law, but he believed that the US government will have the courage to say that China is unilaterally changing the status quo.

Herschensohn also believes that US President George W. Bush's pledge to protect Taiwan remains unchanged, despite the US military commitments in Iraq and elsewhere.

"On April 25, 2001, President Bush said that he will do whatever is necessary to defend Taiwan. He made the statement aloud in public," Herschensohn said.

"As long as he does not retract the statement, the pledge is still valid. And I can't imagine him turning his back on Taiwan," he added.

Herschensohn also said he had little doubt that the US would defend Taiwan in the event of a military conflict with China.

"I am convinced that the US will come to Taiwan's aid immediately if China attacks. There is no possibility that the US will withdraw its pledge. If the US does that, it will not be the US I have known all my life. It will do away with our traditions. It will do away with all these things that all the presidents have said since 1949. It will suddenly negate everything that we have built up including President Bush's passion in seeing democracy develop all over the world," Herschensohn said.

Regrettably, Herschensohn said, the "one-China" concept has been intentionally misinterpreted over time by the US State Department. The flaw in understanding the term stems from an erroneous interpretation of the 1972 Shanghai Communique signed by Nixon.

Herschensohn revealed that Nixon, upset by the US's switching of diplomatic recognition from the ROC to the PRC, wrote a letter to the then President Jimmy Carter five days after Carter gave a speech on Dec. 15, 1978 about the upcoming communique.

"Nixon sent the letter to tell President Carter the risks he is imposing on Taiwan," Herschensohn said. "President Nixon wrote at the end of the letter: `I am not writing this for the record, I am writing this because I want you to know those risks.'"

But the "one China" principle and the "one country, two systems" formula do not address the current political reality anymore, and viable alternatives are not being thought up because of the Bush administration's preoccupation with the war on terror, Herschensohn said.

"It is a policy of postponement. It is like postponing something that has to be eventually solved. The resolution has to fall on the side of freedom for Taiwan. But we need China to help us in the war on terror and we'd like to say China has helped us," he said.

Herschensohn also cast a positive view on US-Taiwan relations after the resignation of US Secretary of State Colin Powell, who "represents the bureaucracy more than the president," he said.

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