Update 7, October 8, 2004


New Members since last Update

Mr. Jen Pin Chang (IL), President, Champion Boooks
Prof. Edward Ho (IL), DeVry University
Dr. James S.C. Hu (Taiwan), Distinguished Professor Emeritus, National Taiwan University
Dr. Che-Tsao Huang (NY), Professor, CUNY-York College.
Ms. Coney Kong (IL), librarian, Chicago State University
Dr. Hong Liu (IL), Founding President, Jiangxi American Association - Mid-West Region
Dr. George Shen (CA), retired engineer, Boeing
Dr. Te-kong Tong (NJ), Professor Emeritus, City University of New York
Mr. Jian Wang (IL), Columnist, Sing Pao Daily News, Hong Kong
Dr. Tsing Yuan (OH), Professor Emeritus, Wright State University

Kwang-Ming Koo's ad challenging the U.S.-China policy

In his one full-page advertisement in The New York Times and Washington Post, Kwang-Ming Koo, Senior Advisor to the President, Taipei, Taiwan, urges reconsideration of the one China principle. In contrast of the historical and legal status of Taiwan, Koo considers that Taiwan is not a part of China. He criticizes the U.S. that the US is telling the Taiwanese "they cannot have their own country, their own consititution, their own national anthem, or even a flag of their own choosing and that they have to keep the relics of the Chiang Kai-shek era in the name of maintaining the status quo."

In daily press briefing, when asked the Koo's ad challenging U.S.-China policy, Adam Ereli, Deputy Spokesman, said October 4, 2004 that "our China policy remains the same. There is no cause for rethinking it."

Earlier on Tuesday, Randall G. Shriver, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, reportedly urged that President Chen Shui-bian (???) or the Presidential Office clarify Koo's advertisements and Taiwan's position.

Powell and Li on the Taiwan issue

Below is an excerpt of the joint press briefing on the Taiwan issue after the meeting between Secretary Colin L. Powell and Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing on September 30, 2004:

SECRETARY POWELL: As always, we talked about the Taiwan issue, which is of uppermost concern to our Chinese friends, and I once again reaffirmed our One China policy and the strength of the three communiques and also noted our obligations under the Taiwan Relations Act and reaffirmed what President Bush has said a number of times, that we do not support any movement toward independence on the part of Taiwan.

QUESTION: U.S. officials have said the ultimate settlement of Taiwan issue has to be acceptable to the people in Taiwan. But could it -- should it also be acceptable to the people in mainland China, or are you going to just ignore the voice and desire of a billion plus people?

SECRETARY POWELL: Of course not. It has to be acceptable to both sides. That's what reconciliation is all about and we strongly support our One China policy, which has stood the test of time. It has benefitted the people in Taiwan, benefitted people in the mainland, and benefitted the international community and certainly benefitted the United States. So our policy remains unchanged. One China policy is well known to all, the three communiques upon which it rests, our obligations under the Taiwan Relations Act. And there is no support in the United States for an independence movement in Taiwan because that would be inconsistent with our obligations and our commitment to our One China policy.

QUESTION: U.S. and Taiwan is discussing about arms sale, and this topic, has this topic come up on the meeting? And can I also ask the position of Foreign Minister, Chinese Foreign Minister on this regard?

FOREIGN MINISTER LI: (Via interpreter.). . .. With regard to the Taiwan question, I would like to say here that the Chinese Government and the people attach great importance to the reaffirmations made by the U.S. President, the Secretary and U.S. Government on many occasions of the U.S.'s continued adherence to the One China Policy, the observance of the three Sino-U.S. Joint Communiques and the opposition to Taiwan independence. At the same time, I wish to point out that in any country, its domestic law should not go above its international commitments. The Chinese Government and Chinese people are ready to use our maximum sincerity and make our best efforts to realize a peaceful reunification of the country and find a peaceful solution to the Taiwan question. However, we will never, ever allow anyone to use any means to separate Taiwan, which is an inalienable part of the Chinese territory, from the rest of our great motherland. Therefore, we are firmly opposed to the sales of weapons by any foreign country to Taiwan, which is a part of China, because we don't think it is in the interest of our peaceful efforts towards the resolution of the Taiwan question and it does not serve the interest of peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits and eventually it will not serve the interest of those countries who are prepared to sell weapons to Taiwan.

.SECRETARY POWELL: We had a good conversation on Taiwan arms sales. Their positions are well known. As I said to the Minister, our obligations under our domestic law with respect to the Taiwan Relations Act, in our judgment, are not, in any way, inconsistent with our One China policy and our obligations under that One China policy and the three communiques. We always measure what is sold to Taiwan on the basis of what they need for their self-defense, and I think our policy has served both nations, the United States and China, very, very well, and Taiwan very, very well, over the course of a number of years.

One China Committee and other organizations send an open letter to Congress

As a rebuttale of the Pentagon's report and the report by the U.S.-China Economy and Security Review Commission, the One China Committee together with some 70 other organizaitons jointly sent an open letter to Congress as follows:

OPEN LETTER TO CONGRESS

FROM CITIZENS CONCERNED WITH THE DIRECTIONS OF U.S.-CHINA RELATIONS

We represent a bipartisan cross-section of Americans (including many of Asian descent), hailing from different walks of life, but united in a common concern for a more healthy U.S.-China relationship. We are alarmed by some misleading representations and ill-advised recommendations made to Congress in two recent official reports, viz.: (a) the June 15, 2004 annual report of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCESRC), and (b) the Pentagon's FY04 Annual Report on China's Military Power, dated May 28, 2004.

If an analogy can be used, the former report diagnoses a WMD-wielding China as a dreadful threat to Taiwan and hence to the United States, potentially more ominous than Saddan Hussein's Iraq. And, the latter prescribes a solution, virtually issuing an imprimatur for Taiwan to unleash a vicarious strike on China's urban population or high-value targets, such as the Three-Gorges Dam (p. 53 of said report). Showing great political wisdom, nevertheless, Taiwan has declined this Pentagon prompting, for it would be the surest way to incite a devastating counter-attack that could easily escalate into a nuclear war embroiling the United States.

PENTAGON'S IMPRIMATUR TO TAIWAN CONTRAVENES U.S. LAW; AND ABETS TERRORISM

The proffering by Pentagon of such an imprimatur, while magnifying the China threat to Taiwan, makes one wonder if it was not using the island as a gambit to get after China --or, conversely, whether it was not manipulating a demonized China bogeyman to further a hidden agenda. In either event, Congress and the American public were NOT given the whole truth. We are concerned that while our nation swears to combat terrorism worldwide, the Pentagon was egging Taiwan on to commit what would be universally condemned as an act of terrorism.

Both reports noted a U.S. obligation under the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) to help defend Taiwan's security. We think it imperative, however, to point out that the TRA does NOT authorize U.S. support for any offensive initiative by Taiwan against mainland China. Pentagon's instigation of a preemptive strike as such amounts to a blatant contravention of the TRA, not to mention the relevant anti-terrorism laws.

MORE FALLACIES IN THE TWO REPORTS

The TRA and Taiwan's bid for independence.

The USCESRC report specifically states that "the United States is committed under the TRA to resist any attempt by the PRC (China) to incorporate Taiwan into its political orbit by force" (p. 116). It gives an irresponsible signal to Taiwan of a U.S. support of the island's quest for separatist independence. TRA does not authorize the United States to be involved in a war because of Taiwan. As it is correctly pointed out by Commissioner Patrick A. Mulloy, "United States has always recognized that if Taiwan believed that our commitment to its security was without limits, it might be emboldened in its dealings with the PRC perhaps to the point of provoking a conflict, by, among other things, moving toward an independence that our government does not support" (p. 224).

The Chinese defense budget, and the imputed intent of China's military modernization.

Both the USCESRC and Pentagon reports addressed China's military buildup as a cause of alarm largely from Taiwan's standpoint. From there on, the China threat was blown out of proportion to become a generalized threat to Asian neighbors and the United States. While Beijing can speak for itself, this alarmist scare does not stand up to the facts as we know them. For instance, the USCESRC report subtly raised the specter of an Asian "wariness of China's growing military power, particularly on the part of Japan" (p. 99). The allegation flies in the face of a comment by Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi himself that the same report acknowledged only ten pages later (p. 109). When greeting the visiting Chairman of the Chinese Parliament, Wu Bangguo, in Tokyo last September 5, Prime Minister Koizumi declared: "China's growth is not a threat to, but an opportunity for, Japan." Several independent studies have also shown that China's neighbors including Korea, Vietnam, and ASEAN countries do not look upon China as a threat (see, e.g., David Kang, "Getting Asia Wrong," International Security, Spring 2003, esp. pp. 79-82, where he cites other relevant studies).

The Pentagon report, for its part, pounced on an 11.6 percent increase in China's defense budget for 2004, and gave a supposedly alarming post-increase total of US$25 billion for the year (p. 26). This figure agrees with that given in the annual Military Balance of the prestigious London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). But, the Pentagon report failed to note that the $25 billion Chinese defense budget was only half of Japan's, confirming a consistent pattern over the past decade and a half since the end of the Cold War, as verified in the annual IISS figures. Nor did the Pentagon report point out that this gap is all the more remarkable when considering that China has to defend a population 10 times bigger and a territory 25 times bigger than Japan's. Compared with the U.S.'s $405 billion defense budget, China's $25 billion is barely its six per cent. The scary picture painted in the Pentagon report is patently out of proportion, even if not deliberately misleading. In calling China's military modernization a dire threat to Taiwan's security, both the USCESRC and the Pentagon reports failed to note that much of the updating, such as improving mid-air refueling capability by the Chinese air force, was to meet the country's long-range defense needs elsewhere. The flying time from nearby Chinese air force bases to Taiwan is only 12-17 minutes. Even in a worst case scenario, no Chinese air force bomber would need mid-air refueling should Taiwan be the target of an air strike. This example says much more about other things, as regards the apparently defensive and deterrent functions of the Chinese military updating in general (incl. its missile force). As Michael Swaine of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace cogently put it, "China's objective is not to assert direct territorial rule over Taiwan, but to avoid the island's permanent loss" (see "Trouble in Taiwan," Foreign Affairs, March-April 2004, p. 40). It follows that, in raising an alarm about Beijing's military "buildup," a prior question should be raised about what would prompt this worry about a "permanent loss" of Taiwan, which both reports shunned.

The true culprit for the huge U.S. trade deficits with China.

Given the USCESRC broader mandate, its report looked into China's hefty economic growth, considering it a security threat to the United States. The report noted, correctly, that China exported five times more in value than it imported from the United States last year. But, echoing a view likewise held by the Treasury Department and the USTR, the Commission attributed the wide gap, erroneously, to Beijing's currency "manipulation." It accused the Chinese of artificially keeping their export prices down by depressing the value of the renminbi relative to the dollar.

An easy test for this controverted thesis is to compare China's trade with other countries. If the alleged currency manipulation alone accounted for the mammoth U.S. deficits, then China should have similar hyper surpluses in its trade with other trading partners, since international trade is often directly or indirectly denominated in the U.S. dollar. But, in recent years China incurred billions of dollars of deficits in its trade with Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Russia, and ASEAN countries, among others. Last year, China became the largest importer of Japanese, Korean, and Taiwanese exports. Why can't the United States compete with the likes of these economies for the Chinese market? To make China a scapegoat is not a convincing solution.

The "One China" policy under attack in the USCESRC report.

The One China policy has been the cornerstone of U.S. relations with China (including Taiwan) under seven American Presidents since Nixon. It remains a critical imperative because it serves to sustain a complex relationship of the three principals: the United States, People's Republic of China (PRC), and Taiwan. It makes it possible for the United States to maintain diplomatic relations with the PRC without abandoning Taiwan. Simultaneous close relations with Taiwan have continued on a sub-diplomatic basis that allows the U.S. the leeway to protect its security, so long as the island does not venture to change the existing structure of the cross-strait relations. The essence of this point has been explicitly explained by President George W. Bush on several occasions since 2001, cutting through the cobweb of linguistic ambiguity used by previous Administrations. The One China principle underpins not only the Three Communiques the U.S. signed with China, but also the TRA that provides the domestic legal basis for the U.S. protection of Taiwan's security. The PRC, though not happy with the TRA, has learned to live with it precisely because the said legislation is based on the One China premise. As long as the One China policy as such is respected by all the three principals, stability in their complex relationship can be expected to continue, as was witnessed in the interregnum between 1979, when the U.S. switched diplomatic recognition to the PRC, and 1988, the last year before Taiwan's official commitment to the One China principle began to waiver.

Under the circumstances, who would want to change the One China premise of the U.S. policy? A related question is: Why would the USCESRC want to see the One China policy reviewed, as if it had proven wrong and in need of abandonment? For an answer to the former question, one needs to note that ever since 2000, Taiwan's new DPP government has been endeavoring to take the island on a separatist course. If successful, the effort would have created a separatist independent Taiwan republic, severting its historical, ethnic, and legal umbilical cord from the China mainland. Since the unfinished Chinese civil war on the mainland in the late 1940s on, the island had led a discrete existence. Taiwan's prudent self-restraint not to repudiate the One China principle helped sustain the relatively stable, though armed, peace between the two sides across the Taiwan Strait, for five decades.

The DPP government's separatist endeavoring, since 2000, necessarily requires a prior dismantling of the One China legacy. True to his DPP party's separatist platform, President Chen has, since taking office, explicitly renounced the One China principle. He has also forsaken his own Chinese ethnic origin. Taiwan's school children are now taught Chinese history as part of "world (read: foreign) history." Despite all this, Chen's separatist pursuit is not supported by the majority of the current adult Taiwan population. Various recent polls have shown that 75-85 per cent of those interviewed preferred to maintain the status quo, not to change it. After repeated failures to dissuade Mr. Chen from his set course, President Bush on December 9, 2003, openly rebuked Mr. Chen for attempting stubbornly to push for a creeping change of the status quo. That attempt is undercutting the stability in the cross-strait relations and undermining the U.S. ability to manage the delicate peace. Beijing's warnings of severe consequences precipitated a crisis overhanging Taiwan. Both the USCESRC and Pentagon reports summarily generalized the tension thus created as mere evidence of a China threat. They missed the point about the sacrosanctity of the One China Principle now under attack by Taiwan's DPP separatist regime. For all the three principals, upholding the One China policy holds the key to peace and stability across the Taiwan strait. There is no other way. As Thomas J. Christensen points out, because of Chinese nationalism, Beijing would be "undeterrable" by U.S. warnings unless its leaders were convinced that Washington was committed to protecting the security only of a Taiwan that "remains legally Chinese and holds out the prospect of eventual unification under mutually acceptable conditions" (International Security, Spring 2001, pp. 36-37).

In recommending a review (and possible reversal) of the U.S.'s existing One China policy, the USCESRC's rationale, on close scrutiny, boiled down to the singular argument that ending the policy would be good for Taiwan (e.g., p. 9), to the oblivion of larger U.S. interests. It sounded as though the Commission were pleading Mr. Chen's cause on his behalf. To this mystifying puzzle, an answer is found when one examines the process of the Commission's preparation of the report. By its own admission, the Commission --in addition to its frequent meetings and many interviews-- had a delegation visiting some Asian sites to collect necessary information during March 14-23, 2004. The delegation visited Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Taipei, but, alas, to the exclusion of Beijing. It was unthinkable when the subject matter under review was China and U.S.-China relations! This mode of collecting field information helps explain why the habitual prosecutorial tone of the Commission's report sounds so much like the harsh language often leveled against China by its Taiwan nemeses (and by Hong Kong's most embittered critics of Beijing as well). It also explains why in urging for a review of the U.S.'s One China policy, the Commission was using arguments, even language, that seemed lifted out of the officially pronounced aspirations of Taiwan's separatist regime since 2000.

Our Counter-Recommendations

The above expresses our concerns and the reasons why we think Congress ought to be alerted to the procession of half-truths, distortions, faulty analyses, and egregious recommendations in the two reports just cited. We took time to lay out our collective thoughts as citizens concerned with America's national interest, as it pertains to a real part of our stakes in Pacific Asia in a geoeconomic age. We have left untouched many other equally questionable or specious points in the two reports. But we hope the above is enough to demonstrate the gravity of the matter we raised. What follows are two generic recommendations for the consideration, and corrective action, by Congress:

(a) We urge that Congress deal squarely with any attempt, overt or otherwise, by any part of the Executive Branch to exploit the PRC-Taiwan imbroglio, where it contravenes the Taiwan Relations Act, such as the Pentagon attempt to instigate a vicarious Taiwanese strike against China's population centers or high-value projects, like the Three Gorges. Equally, we urge that Congress reject any attempt to challenge the U.S.'s One China policy, which the TRA was enacted to enforce.

(b) We beseech that Congress seriously consider that in appointing members to the next US China Economic and Security Review Commission, care be taken that only candidates with unassailable reputation for objectivity (on the China/Taiwan issue) as well as professional integrity of the highest order will be considered. We further urge that Congress consider and require that future USCESRC's reports be subject to a preliminary scrutiny by outside independent experts, to canvass their dissenting and concurring views, so that Congress will hear a balanced (not one-sided) chorus of voices concerning vital U.S. national interests under review.



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