The attention of the US has been focused on the Middle East, especially Iraq, for a long time. The recent mid-term elections in the US have resulted in even greater emphasis on the Middle East, further limiting the emphasis on relations with China and Taiwan.
China will have its People's Congress this year and thereafter finish preparations for next year's Olympics, while Taiwan will face two important elections.
Is this the right time to make some changes in the way the US conducts its relations with Taiwan?
There is no question that concerns about the Middle East dominate US thinking at this time. Meanwhile, China has been growing and expanding its importance worldwide, while maintaining its important relationship with the US.
The relationship is influenced by a wide variety of issues, especially economic matters and in the growth of China's military capability. A regular dialogue is accepted by both sides as essential.
The relationship between the US and China is critical for Taiwan because, for better or for worse, it has a heavy bearing on cross-strait relations.
China now focuses its cross-strait policy on preventing Taiwan from establishing independence. At the same time, China has redoubled its efforts to coerce or otherwise gain help from countries and organizations worldwide to block Taiwan's membership in critical international organizations.
China would face a conundrum if the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) wins in the elections and would have to decide whether or not to engage in limited dialogue with the party.
If the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) wins, there could be a broader dialogue, but China may find the politics of Taiwan less straightforward than they appear.
The relationship between the US and Taiwan remains almost as sensitive as that between the US and China. It is obvious the US does not want war with China, and equally obvious that China does not want war with the US.
This equilibrium, however, could be disturbed by cross-strait strife, but rather than seeking a resolution, China refuses any dialogue with Taiwan and the US continues to limit its dialogue with the nation.
Instead, the US should also look ahead and assess the possible results of the two forthcoming elections -- the first in December for members of the Legislature Yuan and then in March next year for a new president -- and how they might impact US policies regarding cross-strait matters.
In the legislative election, the KMT has long experience in controlling the legislature, understanding the politics of the Legislative districts and in raising money for candidates.
Despite the constitutional change halving the number of legislators and the two ticket system, many experts believe the KMT may still be able to continue its legislative majority.
If the KMT also wins the presidential election, it could have the means of moving forward with its agenda, which includes much closer relations with China on political, economic and security issues.
Should the DPP win the legislative election but not the presidential election, it could find itself in a position similar to that of the KMT now. If the DPP also wins the presidential election, one could anticipate efforts to continue expanding the nation's democratic system and its international participation.
If either the KMT or DPP gained control over both the Legislative Yuan and the Executive Yuan, the impact would be felt in Taiwan, the US and China.
In Taiwan, the most importance impact would be seen in the manner in which the population reacts to the results.
For the US, with its global commitments, the impact would likely force a reappraisal of Taiwan's domestic political interests and of the winning party's relations to China.
With all of the many issues and interests that are a part of the relationship between the US and China, it is unusual that the US has been able to some extent in the past to maintain the commitments to Taiwan established in the Taiwan Relations Act, the agreement that changes in Taiwan's status require the approval of the nation's voters and the continued determination to oppose any unprovoked attack on Taiwan from China.
In considering a US-Taiwan dialogue, there is the problem of both China and Taiwan's obsession about demonstrating -- to their senior officials (for China), and for the people (in Taiwan) -- that their president is in direct contact with the US president.
This is not a recent problem by any means, and China does not accept the US openly discussing issues with Taiwanese officials.
On the other hand, Taiwan sees its government as an established democracy that should be recognized, not only for that reason, but to avoid misunderstanding.
Taiwan today is a democracy in which one party wants a temporary Republic of China with the objective of eventually becoming a part of China, while the other accepts a temporary Republic of China with the eventual objective of becoming a separate entity.
China wants Taiwan entirely, but will not talk to its legitimate officials. The US does not want a war over this issue, but it also does not want to communicate openly with Taiwan's legitimate officials.
This relationship clearly does not make sense. China may well change its policy on dialogue with Taiwan next year regardless of who wins the elections.
Isn't it time for the US to do the same?
Nat Bellocchi is a former chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan and is now a special adviser to the Liberty Times Group. The views expressed in this article are his own.
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