Ex-US official criticizes Ma at TAA holiday dinner

NO NATION IS AN ISLAND::A former US diplomat said that Taiwan is increasingly ignored by Washington and that its hard-won freedoms are being lost

By William Lowther  /  Staff reporter in WASHINGTON

Mon, Nov 12, 2012 - Page 3

Taiwan has dismantled its efforts to promote democracy in China and has instead turned its attention to integrating Taiwan’s economy with Beijing’s, a former US diplomat said on Saturday.

In a stinging attack on the policies of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), the former diplomat said that Taiwan was now re-establishing the political doctrine that Taiwan was an integral part of “one China.”

Ma was bringing Taiwan closer to China, and reassuring Beijing that his government’s goal was an ultimate political union of Taiwan and China, retired US State Department official John Tkacik said.

He said Ma had no plans for strengthening Taiwan’s relations with the US or with Japan or with any other neighbors in the Western Pacific.

At the same time, Tkacik said, the newly re-elected US President Barack Obama was reshuffling his national security team and the new people likely to be brought in would have a less skeptical approach to China than did the old team.

Tkacik was addressing the Thanksgiving banquet of the Greater Washington chapter of the Taiwanese American Association (TAA) held this year in the Argyle Country Club in Maryland.

A former scholar at the conservativeHeritage Foundation, Tkacik said Ma had “gone out of his way” to antagonize Japan.

“This is not responsible diplomacy — unless Ma’s purpose was to alienate Taiwan from Japan,” he said.

“Ma’s strategic economic and political — and increasingly territorial — partnership with China leaves no room for a future security relationship with America, much less Japan,” Tkacik said.

As a result, he said, Taiwan’s democracy was being challenged.

The Taipei administration would be less susceptible to pressures from the US or Europe on human rights and political freedoms and would rely ever more on the patronage of China, he said.

“Freedoms in Taiwan will have only the protection of the Chinese state,” he said.

Tkacik said Taiwan was never mentioned these days, even confidentially, as a US partner in Obama’s new strategy of “balancing” China.

“The future of America’s relationship with Taiwan rests on a choice that Taiwan’s people must make. They reelected Ma at the beginning of this year and approved Ma’s continuing ‘pivot to China,’” he said.

“Once that pivot is completed, there is no going back. There is no such thing as Taiwan’s future disengagement from China,” he said.

“It will be a great tragedy for America, for Asia, and for human freedom if Taiwan is swallowed by China due to a lack of attention, or due to greed, or due to fear and cowardice,” he said.

He said that TAA’s members should dedicate themselves to educating the White House and Congress on the realities of the Taiwan-China relationship.

Thirty-three years ago, Tkacik said, it looked as if democratizing Taiwan could not be done.

“I hope you — the Taiwanese-American community — can change history again,” he said.