Sat, Jun 02, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Interview: Avoid policies based on fear, US expert urges

By Jewel Huang and Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTERS

If it wants to be independent, Taiwan must not base its policies on fear of China and the US, a researcher on Taiwan-US-China relations said.

"Fear should never be your policy, because [such a policy will be] doomed to disaster," Bruce Herschensohn, a public policy professor at Pepperdine University in California said, in an interview with the Taipei Times last Wednesday.

"If you have to count on continuing trade with China, then you are not being independent. If you have to count on the United States, you are not independent," he said.

Herschensohn, who served in the administrations of former US presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, said he knew many people in Taiwan preferred to maintain the "status quo," and the main reason for this was that they were worried that China might declare war.

"You would not be waving a white flag by [insisting on] the status quo, but it's pretty close, because you depend on it. What would happen to the PRC [People's Republic of China] if it changed the status quo?" he asked, adding that maintaining the "status quo" was a self-deluding notion.

Although Taiwan's actions in changing the titles of state-run enterprises has been denounced by some as an attempt to change the "status quo," Herschensohn said that China's increase of its military threat to Taiwan by adding two new missiles every week was also a change of the "status quo."

Herschensohn said that many nations and organizations that have diplomatic and formal relations with China also made policy decisions based on fear because they were afraid of losing opportunities to make money in China.

"Taiwan is not alone in that regard, but Taiwan can be different from them," he said.

"Taiwan could prove that it is the only nation in the world that has the guts to stand up to China. That will make a lot of countries, especially [other] democracies think: if Taiwan can do it, we can do it," he added.

In response to the argument that China would become more democratic as a result of maintaining business ties with Taiwan, which could also result in Beijing keeping its hands off Taiwan, Herschensohn said: "That is absolute nonsense."

Thinking that trade over the Taiwan Strait would lead to democracy in China is based on a poor understanding of contemporary history, he said.

The dictatorship of the former Soviet Union ended because of economic disaster, he said, and knowing that, "why should China bring about the end of its dictatorship because of its economic boom?"

Herschensohn said he believed in free trade with free countries, and added that Taiwan and the US should not be doing business with authoritarian China.

"I know others are doing it, but there's never a reason for doing something that is morally repugnant," he said. "We [Taiwan and the US] have created this superpower that we do not trust."

He said that the US' current policy in dealing with cross-strait relations was "so incorrect" that it was turning China into a super power.

Regarding the "one China" policy, Herschensohn said the US government's policy was wrong and should be changed.

He added that he was not opposed to the "one China" policy, as long as there is also a "one Taiwan."

As US citizens are dying in Afghanistan and Iraq to install democracy, it makes no sense to be opposed to Taiwan, which is already a democracy, because that would amount to opposing everything that the US has ever stood for, Herschensohn said.

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