Expert slams Washington over TRA

BLIND EYE::A former chief of staff of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee said the Bush and Obama administrations have neglected the Taiwan Relations Act

By William Lowther  /  Staff Reporter in WASHINGTON

Sat, Apr 09, 2011 - Page 3

A leading US foreign policy expert is charging that the administration of US President Barack Obama has “shown little to no knowledge or real interest” in the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA). William Bader, a former chief of staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, makes his case in a letter given prominent display in Thursday’s edition of the Financial Times.

The letter is a response to a column published in the newspaper last month by Asia editor David Pilling and headed “US cannot sacrifice Taiwan to court the Chinese.”

Pilling opened his column with: “Should Washington throw the Chinese dog a Taiwanese bone? That is the essence of a quiet but persistent undercurrent of US thought that little Taiwan — with just 23 million people — is too big an irritant in Sino-US relations. Instead of continually annoying China by pledging to defend it, the argument goes, the US should quietly drop its long-standing commitment.”

“The attraction of realpolitik must be strong. But one should not underestimate just how precious Taiwan is, nor how remarkable its transformation from authoritarian state to robust democracy has been,” the column concluded.

“The vast majority of -Taiwanese remain implacably against unification. They speak for something very important. Taiwan is not a bone to be thrown in China’s way. It is a jewel,” Pilling wrote.

Bader describes the column in his letters as “chilling and disturbing” and says that it raises a “breathtaking” question.

He says that first the administration of former US president George W. Bush and now the Obama administration have neglected the TRA and the legislative binding of its articles which were “most reluctantly signed” by then-US President Jimmy Carter on April 10, 1979.

“In embracing the PRC [People’s Republic of China] as the legitimate government, the president had — for the first time in American history — broken diplomatic relations with a friendly government,” Bader wrote.

“On December 15, 1978, the day I became chief of staff of the Senate foreign relations committee of senators Frank Church and Jacob Javits, President Carter brought all this into the public arena and to the Congress, where it unleashed a harsh conflict,” he wrote.

“Rebelling at this action that had been decided in secret and announced without warning, the Congress scrapped the Carter initiative with breathtaking bipartisan brutality and forged its own legislative action, a de facto international treaty with the Republic of Taiwan [sic] by Congressional authorization the continuance of commercial, cultural and defense relations between the people of the US and the people of Taiwan,” he wrote.

“I strongly suggest to this US administration and its departments in Washington who would throw the Chinese dog a Taiwanese bone that they read and follow this law of the land — the Taiwan Relations Act,” he wrote.