Season's Greetings

To Members and Friends

One China Committee Update 36
December 2011

New Members Since Last Update

Dr. Sheying Chen (New York), Professor & Assoc. Provost, Pace University
Phlip Ma, Esq. (Shanghai, China), Attorney-at-Law
Sunny Hong Zhang (MI), Managing Partner, Performance Institute

Brezinski: U.S. strategy on China

Zhigniew Brezinski, former published US national security adviser, published "As China Rises, A New U.S. Strategy in Wall Street Journal (Dec 14), adapted from an article in Foreign Affairs, January/February. On U.S. strategy on China, he states:

In Asia, the U.S. role should be that of national balancer and conciliator, replicating the role played by the U.K. in intra-European politics during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The U.S. can and should help Asian states avoid a struggle for regional domination by mediating conflicts and offsetting power inbalances among potential rivals.

In doing so, it should respect China's special historic and geopolitical role in maintaining stability on the Far Eastern mainland. Engaging with China in a dialogue regarding regional stability would not only help reduce the possibility of U.S.-Chinese conflicts but also diminish the probability of miscalculation between China and Japan, or China and India - and even at some point between China and Russia over the resources of the Central Asia states. Thus American balancing efforts in Asia would ultimately be in China's interest as well.

At the same time, the U.S. must recognize that stability in Asia can no longer be imposed by a non-Asian power, least of all by the direct application of U.S. military power. The guiding principle of U.S. foreign policy in Asia should be to uphold US. obligation in Japan and South Korea while not being drawn into a war between Asian powers on the mainland.

Hu Jintao the real Taiwan election victor

Taiwan itself seems divided, with blue in the north and green in the south. The atmosphere is frenzied on the eve of a seemingly momentous January 14 presidential election in the island that is de facto independent, but formally part of one China.

The choice really comes down to incumbent Ma Ying-jiu, of the Nationalist Party (the KMT), representing the blue; and the challenger Tsai Ying-wen, of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), green.

Yet, it is almost sacrilegious to say it, but there is already a winner, even before the first ballot is cast - China's President Hu Jintao.

Hu is de facto the winner because no matter who is elected as Taiwan's president, be it Ma or Tsai, it is impossible for Taiwan to move out from the embrace of the mainland, a conceivable risk a decade ago.

A crowd of economic figures could be offered in support of the inescapability of the embrace: the billions in Taiwanese investment in China (over US$100 billion, allegedly), the importance of Taiwan's trade surplus with the mainland (about one-third of Taiwan's gross domestic product), and the millions of Taiwanese living in the mainland (over 2 million).

What is totally new is the convenience of communications between Beijing, Shanghai and Taiwan, with a score of flights per day and the massive presence on the island of Chinese media and coverage of China in Taiwanese media.

Hu has in fact obtained direct air links, naval communications, and telecommunications between the mainland and Taiwan. This has deepened contacts across the two sides of the Taiwan Strait to an unprecedented level in the history of the island. This, in turn, has made life easier and more practical for millions of Taiwanese. It is impossible to think that Tsai - or whoever becomes the leader - would move back from the present situation.

Hu managed to put Taiwan in an ideal position for Beijing: it is firmly within Beijing's grasp, but nowhere near completing the sensitive political unification. (Francesco Sisci, Asian Timnes Online,Dec 21, 2011).

New rules needed on Taiwan: Berman

US Representative Howard Berman, the most senior Democrat on the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, wants to lift restrictions on Taiwanese political leaders visiting the US.

In a speech to the Formosa Foundation in Los Angeles on Saturday, Berman blamed pressure from China for keeping the restrictions in place.

Berman said he wanted the restrictions removed to allow top Taiwanese leaders to visit Washington for direct talks.

He wanted to "build and strengthen" the political-security component in relations between Washington and Taipei, he said, adding that Taiwan was a model for "proponents of democracy."

Berman said he would meet Democratic Progressive Party Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen when she visited Washington later this month and that he would try to arrange for her to meet all members of the Foreign Affairs Committee. (William Lowther, Taipei Times, Sep 6, 2011).

Selling out Taiwan

Paul Kane is a former Kennedy School fellow (international security) and, as his bio tells us, an Iraq War vet. His suggestion on Taiwan has attracted a great deal of attention over the past couple of days.

He suggests that President Obama should enter into closed-door negotiations with Chinese leaders to write off the $1.14 trillion of American debt currently held by China in exchange for a deal to end American military assistance and arms sales to Taiwan.

Why does Kane think this is such a nifty idea? Well, his main point is that financial security trumps military security these days:

As Adm. Mike Mullen, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, declared last year, "The most significant threat to our national security is our debt." (Source: Stan Abrams, Business Insider, Nov. 12, 2011).

China's military buildup threatens cross-strait peace: U.S. report

China's growing military power lowers the likelihood of a peaceful resolution to the tensions across the Taiwan Strait, according to a draft report by a U.S. Congressional commission.
However, increased economic and trade interaction between the two sides reduces the possibility of war "in the near future," the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC) said in the final draft of its annual report.

China "has progressed substantially" in military modernization since 2009, including flight testing its J-20 stealth fighter, its first aircraft carrier and the world's latest anti-ship ballistic missile, said the draft report, which is scheduled for release on November 16.
Such modernization gives China the military advantage, "making it less likely that a peaceful resolution to the Taiwan issue will occur," the report stated.

The report is more "pessimistic" than the Pentagon's latest China-Taiwan assessment, which said the mainland upgrades are intended to "deter Taiwan independence and influence Taiwan to settle the disputes on Beijing's terms," according to Bloomberg news service. (Kendra Lin, Focus Taiwan, Oct 37, 2011).