New Members Since Last UpdateAndy Bao (VA), CEO, Sorcio, LLC
Rice criticizes Taiwan's planned referendum as provocative
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice issued an unusually sharp rebuke on December 21 to Taiwan, pointedly calling its planned referendum on United Nations membership "provocative."
During a State Department news conference, Ms. Rice said: "We think that Taiwan's referendum to apply to the United Nations under the name 'Taiwan' is a provocative policy. It unnecessarily raises tensions in the Taiwan Strait and it promises no real benefits for the people of Taiwan on the international stage."
While she reiterated the administration policy -- that the United States "opposes any threat to use force and any unilateral move by either side to change the status quo" -- she placed the United States solidly on the side of China on the issue of Taiwan's referendum. China regards Taiwan as a breakaway province that should ultimately be reunited with the mainland, by force if necessary. (Source: Thom Shanker and Helene Cooper, New York Times, Dec 22, 2007).
US positions on Taiwan
In "U.S. ROADBLOCKS TO THE UNIFICATION OF TAIWAN," a paper presented at the Global Summit Peaceful Unification Conference on November 17-18, Washington, D.C. Tze-chung Li analyzes U.S. positions on Taiwan as follows (footnotes deleted to save space):
1. The official position.
The United States official position is constructive ambiguity. It is constructive that the United States abides by the three Communiqués and supports one China and Taiwan a part of China. It is ambiguous in that the United States continues sale of military equipment to Taiwan to make Taiwan capable of defending against China's attack, insists to maintain the ill-defined status quo to exercise restraints on both Taiwan and China to avoid war, and makes it uncertain for military involvement in defending Taiwan.? Though clarity of ambiguity had been made in favor of China or Taiwan in the past from President Clinton's three nos 1? to President Bush's explicit statement of defending Taiwan, 2 the U.S. strategy remains ambiguous. The ambiguous strategy is considered safer, smarter, as well as more realistic. It allows the United States if, when, and how might protect Taiwan.3 Having said that, China may also take the position of constructive ambiguity by dropping "peaceful" in her unification process.? Deletion of "peaceful" will also comply with the provisions of the Anti-Secession Law.4
The United States opposes any move contrary to the status quo. Deputy Secretary of State Robert B. Zoellick has summarized the U.S. position on Taiwan in six points. The United States should (1) maintain "one China policy"; (2) abide by three Communiqués and Taiwan Relations Act; (3) assist Taiwan's accession to APEC and WTO as an economy; (4) make defensive articles available to Taiwan; (5) insist no unilateral change in the status quo by either side of the Taiwan Strait; and (6) support direct dialogue, including with elected leaders of Taiwan. 5 In responding to Rep. Diane Watson's complaints about how Taiwan's president was treated during his visit to Latin America, he said "we want to be supportive of Taiwan, while we're not encouraging those that try to move toward independence. Because let me be very clear: independence means war." 6
The United States clearly rejects independence for Taiwan and even change of the name of Taiwan.7 Deputy Secretary Richard L. Armitage considers that the Taiwan Relations Act requires the United States to keep sufficient force in the Pacific to be able to deter attack, but the United States has no obligation to defend Taiwan.8 On the Taiwan government's attempt to change their official name of ROC to Taiwan, Adam Ereli, State Department Deputy Spokesman said: "there are reports of a number of sort of impending name changes. . . frankly, we're not supportive of them. As you know, the United States has an interest in maintaining stability in the Taiwan Strait. That's what we want to see, and we are therefore opposed to any unilateral steps that would change the status quo."9
After the? Hu-Bush meeting April 20, 2006, President Bush remarked at the Oval Office regarding Taiwan: "We spent time talking about Taiwan, and I assured the President my position has not changed. I do not support independence for Taiwan."10
Deputy Secretary John D. Negroponte in his speech at the National Committee of U.S.-China Relations dinner October 24, reiterated U.S. policy on Taiwan, saying "the policy of the United States on crossStrait relations is firmly rooted in the Three Joint Communiques and the Taiwan Relations Act. Our policy has been durable and consistent over the course of more than three decades and seven administrations. It will not change now." 11 But, he is concerned about the growing arsenal of missiles and other Chinese military systems arrayed against Taiwan and Beijing's refusal to renounce the use of force against Taiwan. 12
2.The position to defend Taiwan.
Others hold the view that the United States must defend Taiwan because American interest is at stake. As pointed out in the Annual Report by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission to Congress, China's economic integration with its neighbors in East Asia raises the prospects of an Asian economic area dominated or significantly influenced by China. The U.S. has an interest in China's integration in Asia if it gives all parties a stake in avoiding hostilities. Nonetheless, U.S. influence in the area could wane to a degree.13 To defend Taiwan, the Commission recommends that the Department of Defense continues its substantive military dialogue with Taiwan and conducts exchanges on issues ranging from threat analysis, doctrine, and force planning. 14
In contrast to Armitage's position noted above, former Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asia and Pacific Affairs Randall G. Schriver who claims himself as pro-Taiwan, but not anti-China says: "[t]he Taiwan Relations Act not only talks about providing weapons for sufficient self-defense. . . we have an obligation to maintain the capacity to resist force if asked to do so. . . That's not a defense treaty, but there are some very important obligations there."15 Schriver also suggested revision of? President Reagon's Six Assurances, replacing the phrase [Taiwan sovereignty was one to be decided peacefully] "by the Chinese themselves" to "the sovereignty of Taiwan are for the people of the PRC and the people of Taiwan to decide peacefully themselves."16
According to U.S.-Taiwan defense doctrine, the Taiwanese military would have to fight an invasion alone for at least four days until American naval forces arrive. But China could also go with a so-called decapitation strategy -- coordinated commando attacks and pinpoint bombing of the island's leaders and key institutions to paralyze the island before American reinforcements can arrive. 17
The United States is concerned with the loss of influence in the Far East, if Taiwan is unified with China. An Independent Task Force on U.S.-China Relations, established by the Council on Foreign Relations, reports that one drive for Chinese military modernization is to have the ability to fight and win a war in Taiwan in the absence of U.S. intervention and recommends that the U.S. make its stance on Taiwan more explicit, that is United States does not rule out using force to deter Chinese attempt to compel unification through force. 18
A RAND report points out that the most likely conflict between the United States and China would be over Taiwan. 19 China could potentially defeat the United States in a future military conflict over Taiwan by using "antiaccess" strategies designed to limit U.S. military access to the combat zone. The net result of these strategies is that China could actually defeat the United States in a conflict -- not in the traditional sense of destroying the U.S. military, but in the sense of China accomplishing its military and political objectives while preventing America from achieving some or all of its objectives.20 Another RAND report outlines three key security challenges to the United States, its interests, and its allies: terrorist and insurgent groups; regional powers with nuclear weapons; and increasing security competition in Asia, which could result in a military confrontation with China over Taiwan. RAND suggests measures to overcome modern anti-access weapons and methods, particularly theater ballistic missiles and cruise missiles.21
Jed Babbin and Edward Timperlake consider China's military growth poses a threat to American security. 22 There is possible certainty of war with China. With respect to Taiwan, they state: "President Bush and his successors must take a?? 'tough force' approach with the Taiwanese. If the Taiwanese are unwilling to spend the necessary money to defend themselves they should be told in unmistakable terms that we will not spend blood and treasure in their defense. The Taiwanese need a big dose of reality."23
The Hudson Institute reports China's rising high technology and military power pose a challenge to the United States. In China-Taiwan conflict, China may (1) seize the initiative early by forcing an adversary to react to China's move; (2) pursue limited strategic aims, by winning and securing Taiwan with a fait accompli to avoid harming any of the United States main interest; (3) strike five "key points", namely command systems, information system, weapon systems, logistics systems, and the linkage among these; and (4) avoid direct confrontation, by defeating a handful of critical defenses; and (5) utilize high technology war and prepare against the military intervention. It is a seven-day war (blitzkrieg operation) to occupy Taiwan.? The U.S. must be prepared to fight the twenty-first century version of war. 24
At his confirmation hearing before the Senate armed services committee March 8. U.S. Navy Adm. Timothy Keating warned that as China increases its military spending, the United States needs to keep a watchful eye over Taiwan. The admiral emphasized that the United States should be prepared to step in to protect Taiwan should the need occur, even though some members of Congress have warned that Taiwan has sometimes gone out of its way to provoke a hostile confrontation with China in an attempt to declare independence from the Communist state. 25Adm. Keating also said April 15 in Guam that tensions over Taiwan are a factor in the military buildup of Guam but the U.S. was working with China and Taiwan to avert any conflict over the island.26
In a report to Congress on China's military power, the Department of Defense points out China is now building capacity for conventional precision strike. Beijing has strengthened position relative to Taipei by increasing the mainland's economic leverage over Taiwan, fostering Taiwan's diplomatic isolation, and shifting the cross-Strait military balance in the mainland's favor. But the U.S. Department of Defense, through the transformation of U.S. Armed Forces and global force posture realignments, is maintaining the capacity to resist any effort by Beijing to resort to force to dictate the terms of Taiwan's future status. 27
The Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Institute for International Economics consider that military conflict between China and Taiwan is not inevitable. When it to occur, however, it would very likely lead to serious political, and potentially military, conflict between the United States and China. U.S. policy toward the Taiwan impasse has been primarily concerned with process; the United States urges that any resolution be peaceful and non-coercive (thus pursuing a declared policy of "peaceful resolution" rather than Beijing's "peaceful reunification"). Washington also has declared its opposition to unilateral actions by either side to change the status quo. But, the ball of unifying China is in China's hand to display more creativity in its approach to Taiwan to truly win the hearts and minds of the island's people in order to ensure the peaceful achievement of unification.28
3.The hands-off position.
James McGregor considers that U.S. and China have manageable differences and complimentary interests. The United States could help China and itself at the same time. He suggests that domestic politics should stop at the U.S. border and stop preaching instant democracy. 29 The issue of Taiwan could lead to a disastrous war between the United States and China, says Ted Galen Carpenter. The United States, China, and Taiwan are on a collision course, and unless something dramatically changes, an armed conflict is virtually inevitable within a decade. Carpenter explains what the United States must do quickly to avoid being dragged into war. The United States should make it clear and firm that the United States will not become involved in any armed struggle between Taiwan and China if a conflict between Taiwan and China occurs.30
Again, Carpenter repeated his argument.? Justin Logan and Ted Galen Carpenter suggest that "America should promptly terminate any implied defense commitment to Taiwan." According to the authors, Taiwan spends far too little on its own defense, in large part because the Taiwanese believe the United States is their ultimate protector. The People's Republic of China has already deployed nearly 1,000 ballistic missiles across the strait from Taiwan, and Beijing's military modernization program appears to be oriented toward credibly threatening military action if Taipei's moves toward independence continue.? It would be dubious enough for the United States to risk war with an emerging great power like China to defend a small client state, even if that state were making a serious effort to provide for its own defense. It would be even worse to incur that risk on behalf of a client state that is not willing to make a robust defense effort. To minimize the risk of a disastrous conflict, America should promptly terminate any implied defense commitment to Taiwan.31
Richard C. Bush points out three aggravating factors on the relations: (1) the impact of domestic politics in each country, as in Taiwan, there is a strong Taiwanese identity and significant fear of outsiders; (2) decision-making on each side on the cross-Strait issue is centralized and personalized; and (3) the zero-sum leverage game, that is there is little that Taiwan can do to influence Chinese politics. Bush cautions the danger that both sides consider that time favors its adversary. For some forces in Taiwan to conclude that the only way to secure the future is to go for independence while China is relatively weak and constrained by the Olympics, whereas to China, preemptive military action is needed to keep the door to unification from closing. The danger is to invite unnecessary conflict. Both sides should take option of shaping the current situation to maximize their shared interests and minimize the risk of a foolish conflict. 32
4. The pro-independence position
Lawrence B. Wilkerson, the U.S. Army Colonel who was Collin Powell's chief of staff through two administrations, points out that "neocons" in the top of the administration quietly encouraged Taiwanese politicians to move toward a declaration of independence from mainland China. They included such key architects of the Iraq War as Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, Douglas Feith, the undersecretary for policy, and Steven Cambone, Rumsfeld's intelligence chief, and? President Bush's controversial envoy to the United Nations, John Bolton. The Defense Department was dispatching a person to Taiwan every week, essentially to tell the Taiwanese that the alliance was back on. 33 Bolton in a recent speech on "US global democracy strategy and cooperation with Taiwan" at the Grand Formosa Regent hotel in Taipei August 14 at the invitation of the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy suggested U.S. should restore diplomatic relations with Taiwan and the UN 2758 Resolution should be repealed.34 And he implied that Beijing is a paper tiger who would not act if Washington officially recognized Taiwan as a country. 35
Reports James Fallows, former senator Gary Hart, who served as co-chair of the "U.S. Commission on National Security in the 21st Century," the Hart-Rudman Commission, mentioned Mrs. Lynne Cheney on the commission opined that the overwhelming threat was from China. Sooner or later the U.S. would end up in a military showdown with the Chinese Communists. There was no avoiding it, and we would only make ourselves weaker by waiting. No one else spoke up in support. The same argument happened at the second meeting. Finally, in frustration, she left the commission. Hart added. "I am convinced that if it had not been for 9/11, we would be in a military showdown with China today." Not because of what China was doing, threatening, or intending, he made clear, but because of the assumptions the Administration brought with it when taking office .36
Another key character in the hawkish group was Therese Shaheen, wife of Rumsfield's spokesman, DiRita, the former chief of the U.S. office of the American Institute in Taiwan.? She openly championed the independence movement, at one point even publicly reinterpreting President Bush's reiteration of the "one China" policy, saying that the administration "had never said it opposed Taiwan independence." Colin Powell asked for her resignation. 37 Ms Shaheen is now chairperson of the Taiwan supported U.S. Asia Economic Foundation created on October 20, 2007. The Foundation supports Taiwan for independence.
On February 16, 2007, Representative Thomas G. Tancredo introduced Bipartisan Resolution that would call for the United States to resume normal diplomatic relations with Taiwan.38 He recently declared that he would not seek for another term. Taiwan will lose a strong supporter in Congress. U.S. lawmakers introduced a resolution June 26, 2007 for an end to restrictions on visits to the United States by high-level Taiwanese officials. The resolution was unanimously adopted by a voice vote on July 30, 2007.??? The resolution's sponsor in the House, Republican Steve Chabot, says it is time to send a clear message to Beijing over Taiwan, which the United States is legally bound to defend in any military conflict.39 Rep. Steve Chabot is another strong supporter of Taiwan. In his letter to Examiner a year ago, Rep. Chabot considers that "there is a lot more at stake for the U.S. than who controls power in Taipei. Should Taiwan decide to move in the direction of accommodation with the PRC, U.S. interests in Asia would steadily be eroded.40
On November 8, nineteenth U.S. law makers led by New Jersey Republican Representative Scott Garrett introduced a bill in the House of Representatives backing UN membership for Taiwan.41
Bruce Herschensohn, another staunch supporter of Taiwan, states that the first Shanghai Communiqué was intentionally misinterpreted as a basis for the other two Communiqués.42 He produced President Nixon's letter to President Carter in which President Nixon expressed concern about President Carter's recognition of China with no adequate guarantees against the use of force to resolve the Taiwan issue. 43? The letter appears to be contrary to the declassified President Nixon's assurance noted earlier. Herschensohn urges the United States to defend Taiwan as a democratic nation.