Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (
This is a clever spin-off of the People's Republic of China's (PRC) long-standing "three noes" -- no Taiwan independence; no "two Chinas" or "one China, one Taiwan" and no Taiwan membership in organizations where statehood is required.
Ma's construct is much more thoughtful and positively oriented. It appears aimed at reassuring four audiences: the people of Taiwan, the PRC, the US and the international community in general.
Ma's first "no" actually reads, in full, "no negotiations for unification during my presidential term[s]." This serves several important purposes. It aims first to reassure those at home who fear that if Ma were elected, he would somehow "hand over Taiwan's sovereignty" to China.
Just as it has proven impossible for President Chen Shui-bian (
This pledge also helps to further temper PRC expectations about what a KMT victory would bring. Most Taiwan-watchers in China expect that regardless of who wins in March, the next Taiwanese president is likely to be less confrontational than Chen. Some may harbor hopes that "reunification" would somehow be in the cards should the KMT prevail.
While being careful not to preclude unification as one possible long-term outcome -- to do so would trigger Beijing's "Anti-Secession" Law -- Ma's message reminds Beijing that talk about unification remains premature. In truth, nothing short of a remarkable complete political transformation in China will ever make unification attractive to the people of Taiwan.
His second pledge, "no pursuit of de jure independence," is aimed first and foremost at Beijing, although the message is equally welcomed in Washington and around the globe.
Moves toward independence, like beauty, are clearly in the eye of the beholder, but many would say that Chen has taken a long (and continuing) series of steps that seem aimed at stretching his own "no independence" pledge to the limit (if not beyond). Both China and the international community would welcome an end to what some interpret as a deliberately provocative game of chicken by Chen's administration.
No one loses much sleep worrying about a Taiwanese attack on China. Clearly, Ma's "no use of force by either side of the Taiwan Strait" is aimed at sending an important message to Beijing: Its current threatening "marry me or I'll kill you" approach has failed to win the hearts and minds of Taiwanese and is counterproductive to China's openly professed long-term goal.
Let's be realistic: China will never give an unconditional "no use of force" pledge. Beijing realizes that the primary deterrent to Taiwan moving toward de jure independence is fear of the possible consequences. It is unlikely to give up this important leverage.
But, it is not too much to challenge Beijing, after the Taiwanese presidential election, to make a conditional no use of force pledge; namely, that "as long as the Taiwanese authorities do not take steps toward de jure independence, China will remain completely committed to a peaceful resolution to the cross-strait issue." This is, in fact, consistent with China's stance and also with the "Anti-Secession" Law. It would set a positive tone for the future development of cross-strait relations, especially if accompanied by a freeze or (preferably) reduction in the number of Chinese missiles pointed toward Taiwan. In keeping with the "no use of force" pledge, the new administration in Taipei might also want to give serious consideration to scrapping its own offensive missile program.
Let me end with a bold (although some may say unrealistic or hopelessly naive) suggestion. Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) has a clean slate in proclaiming his own list of assurances. Why not state, in the interest of (finally) having a bipartisan cross-strait policy, that he is also willing to endorse and adopt a similar "no reunification, no independence and no use of force" policy?
Such a move would help depoliticize Taiwan's most important and sensitive national security issue. It would help assure Beijing and Washington that the "new" DPP -- now under Hseih's leadership -- is genuinely determined to set a more cooperative course. It would also reinforce the shared DPP/KMT goal of increasing Taiwan's "international breathing space," a goal that some say can only be realistically accomplished with Beijing's acquiescence.
It would limit the impact of the upcoming UN referendum and also help limit Chen's options if he is tempted to try to institutionalize his own more controversial and divisive approach toward cross-strait relations either before the election or during the post-election, pre-May 20 inauguration period.
In short, it would serve Taiwan's, Beijing's and Washington's national security interests and create a long overdue "win, win, win" scenario.
Ralph Cossa is president of the Pacific Forum CSIS, a Honolulu-based non-profit research institute affiliated with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
As the incursions by China into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone intensify, the international community’s anxiety has risen over the question of whether the US military would become directly involved in the case of an attack on Taiwan. Washington’s long-held policy of “strategic ambiguity” does little to ease the trepidation. The rationale universally espoused on “strategic ambiguity” is that an announced commitment from Washington to directly defend Taiwan would encourage Taiwanese independence and consequently bring forth a Chinese military attack and a possible nuclear confrontation between two superpowers. However, this line of argument could soon lose steam if the subject is viewed from
Having deceived the world about its nuclear capabilities while preparing for an arms race, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is now using its increasing nuclear forces for virtual nuclear coercion. This new threat will continue until the United States, Japan, and Taiwan can restore the CCP’s sense of fear. This dynamic is a familiar one for Taiwan. As the CCP’s People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) capabilities have grown, its inhibitions about conducting larger and more frequent coercive military demonstrations have shrunk. The PLA now more openly practices for the destruction of Taiwan’s democracy and the murder of its citizens. In the nuclear realm,
The Tokyo Olympics will perhaps be remembered as one of the oddest Games in the event’s long and checkered history. Held amid a global pandemic, spectators are banned from most venues, leaving athletes to play out their feats of sporting brilliance in eerie silence. Meanwhile, furious Tokyo residents wave placards outside some venues, calling for the Games’ cancelation. Adding to the incongruity of it all, the entire Russian team is absent, banned due to a doping scandal. That the Tokyo Olympics went ahead at all has been extremely contentious in Japan. Critics fear a mass outbreak of the highly contagious Delta
Just a few days after an outbreak of locally transmitted COVID-19 cases, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in May announced that a domestically produced vaccine against the virus would become available late this month. At the time, even though the government had placed orders for the Moderna and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines, just 700,000 of the doses had arrived, and many Taiwanese were reluctant to get inoculated, in no small part due to the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) disinformation campaign about the AstraZeneca vaccine’s alleged shortcomings. Before the outbreak, the government had been successful in keeping the number of infections to a minimum,