Mon, Aug 15, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Analyst says US could consider Taiwan a lost cause

BY RICH CHANG  /  STAFF REPORTER

Since the Taiwanese government has failed to get the NT$480 billion (US$15 billion) special arms budget approved in the legislature, some analysts have begun to warn that Taiwan could lose its status as a place of major strategic importance for the US in East Asia. Some experts are saying that the US could withdraw its security commitments to Taiwan if the people of the democratic nation decide not to take visible steps to defend their country against the possibility of a military attack from China.

"The US has been impatient at the government's inability to get the special arms bill passed," Bill Chang (張國城), the former director of the Democratic Progressive Party's department of Chinese affairs, said.

"But the US has been even more concerned about whether the boycott of the arms bill by the pan-blue parties and its voters signifies an indifferent attitude by Taiwanese toward their country's defense," he said.

"This would imply that there would be the possibility of a peaceful unification with China in the future," he said.

Chang noted that if the US concluded that unification was possible, the country would gradually withdraw its security commitments toward Taiwan and would stop selling advanced weaponry to the country, because Washington would be concerned that the technology might fall into the hands of the People's Liberation Army (PLA).

Chang said that since the pan-blue's boycott of the arms procurement bill has been through legislative procedures -- a democratic process -- it might be considered a sign that Taiwanese don't see China as a threat. The US would have no choice but to accept the decision reached by the people of a democratic county, Chang added.

He said a vicious circle might occur if the pro-China trend gets stronger in Taiwan, and that once the US gradually withdrew its security commitments toward the ocuntry, the military weakness of the nation would make even more Taiwanese accept the pro-China approach.

Chang said history showed that the US had abandoned its security commitments toward foreign countries when necessary. He said the US had abandoned former president Chiang Kai-shek's (蔣介石) Nationalist government and had withdrawn from South Vietnam.

In fact, the US closed its embassy in Taiwan on March 1, 1979, under the administration of then-president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國), and established the Taiwan Relations Act in the same year.

Chang said "the US would lose few strategic interests in East Asia if Taiwan reconciled with China or even unified with the country in the future."

Chang said that "the US understands" that China would not confront Washington and Tokyo in the Pacific Ocean after it unifies with Taiwan.

"China's strategic interests are in the country's west and south, its oil supply resources and its transportation sea lanes -- not in the east," Chang said.

He said that because of its huge business interests with the US and Japan, China would have no interest in confronting those two countries in the Pacific Ocean.

Chang said that if China unified with Taiwan, it would immediately declare Taiwan a demilitarized area, and also ensure that sea-lanes through the Taiwan Strait were safe for the US, Japan and other countries.

On the other hand, Ou Si-fu (歐錫富), a researcher with the Institute for National Policy Research, who has also provided research papers on the PLA for the Mainland Affairs Council and Ministry of National Defense, said the US would not withdraw its security commitments toward Taiwan, because the US would want to use a containment policy toward China.

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