Chu Yen-kuei (朱言貴), a lecturer of law at National Open University, in an opinion article titled “Taiwan is in between Washington and Beijing” (Taipei Times, Jan. 1, page 8) reminded the government to handle Taiwan-US relations cautiously lest the US sell out Taiwan.
Chu expressed his worries, saying that hostility between China and the US would inevitably irritate Beijing, while Taiwan has become a pawn in Washington’s game without realizing it.
The author said that the Republic of China (ROC) was in the past repeatedly sold out by the US, first when the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government relocated to Taiwan in 1949, and then when it severed diplomatic relations with the ROC on Jan. 1, 1979.
Then-US president Harry Truman in 1950 announced that the US would not intervene in a cross-strait dispute, but when the Korean War broke out in June that year, Washington immediately ordered the US Seventh Fleet to sail through the Taiwan Strait and included Taiwan in its Western Pacific defense strategy.
Had that not happened, how could the KMT regime have defeated the Chinese Communist Party in the 823 Artillery Bombardment in Kinmen County in 1958?
After the US cut diplomatic ties with Taipei, the US Congress passed the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) to provide the “governing authorities on Taiwan” with the same treatment enjoyed by other sovereign states. The persistence of the “ROC in Taiwan” was a result of the US’ indulgence of the KMT’s authoritarian rule.
Chu also said that if Sino-US relations deteriorate, the ROC would inevitably find itself in a difficult situation. Chu mentions two reasons: First, the US would treat Taiwan as a bargaining chip in a confrontation with China. Second, China would treat Taiwan as one of its core interests, which must not be hurt by a US intervention.
Those reasons are absurd and groundless. Putting aside the question of whether the US treats Taiwan as a bargaining chip against China, why should Taiwan be one of China’s core interests? Geographically, Taiwan is a transportation hub between the East and the West, a strategically significant position.
US General Douglas MacArthur even referred to Taiwan as an “unsinkable aircraft carrier.”
Should free and democratic Taiwan be dependent on China? Chu’s remarks are extremely partial to the Chinese side.
Finally, Chu said that the Chinese authorities would not tolerate the 2018 passing of the US’ Taiwan Travel Act, which allows mutual visits between US and Taiwanese officials.
Was Chu unhappy that US President Donald Trump approved a dozen arms sales to Taiwan during his term, or over the visits of top US officials — based on the act — that caused strong protests from Beijing?
The US House of Representatives last week overturned Trump’s veto of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021, which not only confirms that the TRA and the “six assurances” are the foundation of Taiwan-US relations, but also supports arms sales and the deepening of medical and security partnerships with Taiwan.
Is Washington in Chu’s opinion to be blamed for keeping Taiwan from turning “red”?
Using a tone similar to the pan-blue camp’s call for cross-strait peace, Chu advised Taiwan not to deliberately irritate China, saying that it would be difficult to develop relations with China and the US simultaneously, unless Taiwan first yields to China and becomes another Hong Kong.
Taiwan is squeezed between the US and China, and there is not much it can do about it. What is really worrying is communist infiltration and enemies within Taiwan. These issues must be handled with caution.
Chen Ching-kuen is a university assistant professor.
Translated by Eddy Chang
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