3rd Year Week 2 HTo4

Topic: Chinese-Taiwanese relations

Translate the following highlighted passages (244 words) into Chinese.

In Observance of the 20th
Anniversary of Taiwan Relations Act

U.S.-Taiwan-China Relations: A Difficult Triangle

Dr. John Copper
Stanley J. Buckman Professor of International Studies
at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee.
before the World Affairs Council in Dallas, Texas
April 12, 1999.

Two very opposing views of China currently predominate in the United States. One is that the United States should regard the People's Republic of China as a danger and a threat to American interests abroad and thus a present and/or future enemy. The second is that the United States should see China as a friend and hence the key to the U.S. fulfilling its foreign policy objectives and maintaining a peaceful world. This is the most salient and difficult question facing U.S. foreign policy decision makers today.

The critics of those who argue China is America's enemy say that such a policy will alienate China and may well be a self fulfilling prophesy. In other words, China is not antagonistic toward the United States, but will become hostile and even an enemy if treated as one. Thus, this posture is unwise and dangerous.

The critics of those who contend China is basically friendly toward the United States say this view is unrealistic and constitutes appeasement, something similar to the policy of European countries during Hitler's rise to power. Realizing the folly of this view was too late to prevent catastrophe. The U.S. at minimum should prepare for a future threat.

This dichotomy of views has polarized those involved in U.S. China relations, including the academic community, and has divided the executive and legislative branches of government. How we resolve these conflicting views will likely influence the course of American foreign policy for the next generation.

Taiwan is central to the debate, since it is territory claimed by China and among various issues constituting differences between the United States and China it is, in my opinion, the most difficult one and the one most unlikely to be resolved by negotiations.

Taiwan also presents a special dilemma for America. The U.S. supports democracy around the world. This is a central tenet of American foreign policy. It is a part of America's character. It is its soul. Taiwan is a democracy!

The United States was, in fact, to a considerable degree responsible for Taiwan becoming a democracy. America cajoled, helped and pressured Taiwan to democratize beginning in the 1950s. The U.S. has praised Taiwan's accomplishments. Top U.S. officials have even referred to the "Taiwan political miracle."

Democracy in Taiwan, however, means that its people and its government feel more strongly that they should be entitled to decide the country's future. And most observers agree. Yet this seems to contradict America's one-China policy and certainly stands in the way of better Washington-Beijing relations.

Thus, the difficult triangle...

There has long been, in fact since 1949 when the Nationalists were defeated in the Chinese civil war and fled to Taiwan, a three-cornered or triangular relationship between the United States, Taiwan and China. The United States played the swing role in this relationship and was generally successful in controlling the situation or maintaining a peaceful relationship between the two Chinas. Recently, however, this has changed.

Several recent events, in fact, have dramatically changed the U.S.-Taiwan-China relationship. Two stand out: the Tiananmen Massacre in 1989 and the Taiwan Strait crisis, or missile tests, in 1996. Taiwan's democratization exacerbated both crises in terms of their impact on America's policy makers.

Let me explain why these events were important and the impact they have had on the relations between these three nations or political actors. I will conclude by attempting to forecast where the relationship is now heading.

The Tiananmen Massacre of June 4, 1989, permanently changed China's image around the world, but particularly in the West and most of all in the United States. Many in the United States felt at the time, and it seems the media were very convinced of this, that China was becoming, with its new reform leadership and the end of Maoist communism, a democracy. This was considered a watershed event which would bring peace to East Asia, the only place where America had been at war in the last half of the 20th century and an area that was setting the course of world history economically and in many other ways.

These hopes and expectations were dashed when soldiers and tanks entered Tiananmen Square and brutally crushed the Democracy Movement, killing thousands of China's best and brightest. The Chinese leadership had turned sharply to the left making this tragedy happen, and after this the leadership turned inward. The military's stock also rose.

After the Tiananmen "incident" as Chinese leaders called it, Beijing became less tolerant of foreign criticism. China became hostile, xenophobic and paranoid. The military, which had "saved" the Communist Party, saw big increases in its budgets in ensuing years. Its role in political decision making grew exponentially.

Meanwhile, and amplifying the importance of this event many fold, the Soviet bloc was in the process of crumbling, evidenced only a few months later with the fall of the Berlin Wall. Eventually the Soviet Union imploded. This terminated the Cold War. It also made the "China card" (America's "alliance" with China against the Soviet Union) no longer of any utility to policy makers in Washington, DC. The U.S.-China rapprochement which began in the Nixon Administration, it should be recalled, was based on common strategic objectives.
In December 1989, six months after Tiananmen, Taiwan held its fourth competitive national election. This time, the opposition Democratic Progressive Party performed very well, leading pundits to say that Taiwan now had a two-party system and that the opposition could, and probably soon would, gain political power.

Since the opposition party, the DPP as it was called, advocated Taiwan independence or the permanent separation of Taiwan from China, this evoked alarm both in Beijing and Washington. Decision makers in the United States had to come to grips with the fact that democracy in Taiwan contradicted America's one-China policy and that the U.S. having encouraged Taiwan to become a democracy could hardly repudiate its accomplishment. Leaders in Beijing became troubled that Taiwan's democratization was making negotiations on reunification more difficult, Taipei more intransigent, and the global community more sympathetic with Taiwan.

In subsequent years, Taiwan held more democratic elections. In 1991 and 1993 there were two plenary elections for the National Assembly (that body of government that elected the president and vice president and had authority to amend the Constitution) and the Legislative Yuan (or lawmaking body of government). The "holdover delegates" who represented areas in China and supported China's reunification (albeit on Taiwan's terms) resigned and these parliamentary organs became for all intents and purposes representative of Taiwan only. The change, in any case, was seen as another step away from Taiwan joining China.

Two more elections were held in 1994 and 1995. In the former election one of the strongest supporters of Taiwan independence, Chen Shui-bian, who, in fact, put this tenet in the DPP's party charter, was elected mayor of Taiwan's capital and largest city. He was also touted as Taiwan's future president.

In 1996, Beijing viewed Taiwan's first direct presidential election with consternation. It looked, from Beijing, like Taiwan was becoming fully democratic, which Chinese leaders associated with foreign influence that wanted to keep China split and weak. The military at this time was still playing a key role in foreign policy decision making as a product of its enhanced status after the Tiananmen Massacre, in fact even more so as a result of a succession crisis. (Deng Xiaoping was inactive and died early the next year.) Beijing thus adopted a policy of using force against Taiwan.

It had done missile tests and had duly intimidated Taiwan in 1995 following President Lee Teng-hui's trip to the United States, which Chinese leaders objected to strenuously. Beijing, or at least hardliners who had increased their influence over policy making, saw this visit as a successful advance in Lee's "pragmatic diplomacy" that they equated with Taiwan eschewing reunification and moving further toward independence.

Now Beijing escalated the conflict and conducted more missile tests, this time using live ammunition, firing very close to Taiwan's two major ports. This forced the closing of air and sea lanes. China's military also did a mock invasion of Taiwan.

China's actions constituted a frontal challenge to Washington. The Clinton Administration forthwith ordered two aircraft carriers to the Taiwan Strait, each accompanied by a flotilla of ships. This constituted the largest military buildup in the area since the Vietnam War.

Threats were exchanged between Washington and Beijing, including suggestions that nuclear weapons might be used. War looked possible. Military strategists labelled the Taiwan Strait the number one flashpoint (place where a broad war might occur) in the world. It also appeared that, even if the conflict subsided (which it did) Washington and Beijing were locked into a persistent struggle.

The influence of Congress on China policy at this juncture increased. Had President Clinton not taken decisive action by dispatching aircraft carriers to "face-off" the Chinese People's Liberation Army, Congress would have certainly seized the initiative.

Congress subsequently enhanced and expanded the role of the Taiwan Relations Act (a law passed in 1979 after the Carter Administration cut diplomatic relations with Taipei) and which pledged U.S. security help to Taiwan. Congress also forced the making of China policy to be even more transparent while demanding a rethinking of the tenets of China policy.

The Clinton Administration dropped "strategic ambiguity" from its lexicon of terms used to describe U.S. China policy. Instead it promoted strategic or comprehensive engagement.

In ensuing months, to prevent a further deterioration in relations with Beijing, the Clinton Administration sent a number of former high ranking foreign policy officials to Taiwan to try to persuade Taiwan to "cool it" regarding talk of declaring independence. This effort was given a high priority after November 1997 when the Democratic Progressive Party won handily in a local election of mayors and county magistrates, giving the opposition party, which, to repeat, formally calls for Taiwan's independence and formal separation from China, executive control of local governments that ruled over 70 percent of the population.

In mid-1998, President Clinton travelled to China in what was his longest visit ever to a foreign country. There the president openly concurred with Beijing's policy dubbed the three nos: no independent Taiwan; no two China's, or one China and one Taiwan; and no admission of Taiwan to any international organization that requires statehood for membership. He also talked of building a "strategic partnership" with China. This sounded like a major U.S. policy shift in Beijing's favor but in reality was more an effort to dampen independence talk in Taiwan. Taiwan was not intimidated. Its leaders did not see Clinton's statements as abandoning Taiwan. Furthermore Congress immediately passed several "sense of the Congress" resolutions that favored Taiwan. These resolutions called for better U.S. relations with Taiwan, and recommended enhancing Taiwan's defenses among other things.

Widely publicized cases of China spying on the United States and stealing nuclear secrets, and the need for missile defense in East Asia after North Korea's missile test in August 1998 (but also in reaction to fears of China's growing military capabilities) subsequently damaged Washington-Beijing relations and elevated Washington-Taipei relations.

Washington still views China as important because it is a big power. Certainly China cannot be contained. Yet the dilemma about whether China is a friend or an enemy has been amplified in favor of seeing China as an enemy and Washington-Beijing relations are now probably worse than in the past three decades.

Having said this, the questions to be addressed now are: "What are the prospects for better relations across the Taiwan Strait? And, what are the constraints on each side and on the United States? Looking at these questions, it is possible to then ask: Where are we going from here?

In the case of Taiwan, the country has fully democratized making foreign policy a new game. No national leader can ignore public opinion, the legislative and judicial branches of government, or a number of other political constraints put in place by the institutionalization of democracy. Democracy also translates into a demand that Taiwan must decide its own future. From Taiwan's point of view it also has to be regarded as sovereign and negotiations have to be undertaken on the basis of equality (with Beijing).

The best option from Taipei's position is the "German formula" or allowing both sides (meaning Taiwan) to assume sovereignty and to have diplomatic recognition and diplomatic status. Beijing's threats and its efforts to isolate Taiwan are, in the eyes of both the population and government in Taiwan, an obstacle to talks and better relations. Unification can be pursued only when Taiwan has confidence that this can be accomplished peacefully and to the advantage of its citizens.

Advocates of independence must be allowed to speak their piece. This is essential to a democratic system. This position, however, will not necessarily win public support. In fact, it is unlikely to in the ultimate sense. Most people in Taiwan believe that, and government decision makers generally agree, Taiwan should have some kind of relationship with China. It should probably start with formalizing already extensive economic ties. The two sides might try first to reach political agreements (for example to prevent the use of military force) that will eventually lead to some kind of federation.

After all, Taiwan is part of the Pacific Rim bloc, the same as China. Taiwan cannot stand alone in a world of economic blocs. There are many good reasons for Taiwan establishing links with China. And certainly Taiwan is Chinese by language, culture and in many other ways.

China cannot tolerate a formal declaration of independence by the government in Taiwan. This would provoke hard-liners and the military. In that situation, using force will be an option that will be difficult for moderate leaders to reject. Beijing likewise cannot agree to a peaceful solution only to the "Taiwan issue" as both Washington and Taipei request. This would repudiate its stance that Taiwan is a domestic matter and China's leaders' declarations (which no doubt many believe) that Taiwan independence is instigated by foreign forces that want to "keep China down" by standing in the way of it unifying its territory.

Beijing, on the other hand, can probably accept something short of immediate unification such as an understanding to the effect that Taiwan will not allow the presence of another country on its soil, especially Japan, and that Taipei will only gradually seek unification. In other words, Chinese leaders can probably agree to a gradual, long-term resolution of problems leading to an arrangement such as a commonwealth rather than demanding sovereign control over Taiwan at an early date.

Beijing should also be able to see unification as beginning with economic ties. After all China's reform started with economic reform with political change lagging far behind. Furthermore, Chinese leaders perceive that China will continue to prosper and will be a better nation if it continues to participate in the world economy. This being the case, Taiwan's role as an investor and a model should be seen as valuable and in this context whether it is incorporated or is a friend makes little difference.

The United States cannot allow Taiwan to be invaded and its future determined in Beijing without the population of Taiwan agreeing. Taiwan has followed the model of American democracy and American cannot betray or abandoned Taiwan and remain a leader in the world or a nation with credibility in East Asia.

In addition, the Taiwan Relations Act, although it can be interpreted differently, does seem to obligate the United States to protect Taiwan from efforts to use force against it. Even if it doesn't, the Congress will probably take this interpretation in the event of any future threat.

On the other hand, Washington can agree to Taiwan forging links with China, even permanent political ones (in spite of what some in China say). The U.S. would also be willing to guarantee that Taiwan does not come under the control of Japan or any other nation. And it can, and will, warn advocates of Taiwan independence and perhaps even prevent them from coming to power by declaring that its security guarantees do not apply if the present or any future government declares Taiwan formally or legally independent.

All of this seems to say that the three players in the "China triangle" espouse positions that are not negotiable. Yet all three can likely make concessions and can probably overcome at least some of their differences.

Talks should emphasize areas of agreement. In addition, the three players need be patient and seek results over a fairly long period of time rather than quickly. The alternative to success is not one to ponder easily.