Tuesday, October 26, 2004

On Bush and Taiwan ...

As much as I dislike the Bush administration, I think if I were a Taiwanese American, I would be voting for Dubya in the upcoming election.

Colin Powell's trip to China had few, if any surprises. Of course Powell sought to pressure China to take a more active role in bringing N. Korea to the table to revive the six-way talks. Powell said that China has considerable influence over Pyongyang. I wonder to what extent this is true. It's a belief that's had great currency over the past three years, but Hu Jintao or Jiang Zemin's assurances may be more bravado than substance.

Once Nixon and Kissinger had broken through to establish ties with Communist China, one of their primary goals was to try and get China to exert its influence on N. Vietnam, so the Americans would have a better opportunity to extract themselves from the quagmire of the war. Later it was revealed in James Mann's book About Face that the Chinese leadership had far less control over N. Vietnam than they let on.

Granted, China is a far more powerful country than it was in 1972, but the megalomaniac Kim Jong-il is also far less dependable overall than a popular leader of a people's independence movement like Ho Chi Minh. So are the Americans just doing some wishful thinking here?

Everything else about Powell's visit was the same song and dance with the exception that Powell prodded Hu to open up talks with Taiwan after Chen Shui-bian's "concilatory" speech on Taiwan's National Day, Double Ten. Predictably, Hu said he didn't trust Chen and China was not prepared to open talks with a man they consider to be at the forefront of a Taiwanese independence movement.

I checked out John Kerry's policy page to see what differences we would see vis-a-vis Taiwan if Kerry wins the presidency. Of course the Kerry campaign says it will support Taiwan's robust democracy and will continue to sell defensive weapons to Taipei. I don't trust the Democrats 100 percent on this issue. Bill Clinton talked a good game about not coddling dictators before he was elected but, by the time he was in office, his administration seemed beholden to the idea of engaging China, which included hammering away at human rights violations, in the hopes that China's emerging influence and free market would prompt reforms at the very highest levels. Remember when we were told about Zhu Rongji the great reformer?

Of course some would argue that in 1996, Clinton proved to be resolute when he sent the 7th fleet into the Taiwan Strait during Taiwan's presidential elections. Yet two years later he undermined Taiwan's ongoing efforts to be a part of the international community when he embraced the "three no's" policy, the last of which explicitly states that the US believes that Taiwan should not be a member of any international organization for which statehood is a requirement for membership.

Many of the Clinton administration's policies were necessary, but Republicans tend to make it very clear whether they are in the White House or the House of Representatives that Taiwan is not to be touched. Democrats simply aren't strident enough.

6 comments:

Emily said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Feiren said...

Well, I think with Powell's comments the other day pretty much take the legs out from under your argument.

Hyatt said...

Since I've had very few comments here so far, it would be odd to delete one right away. But Emily's post was completely immaterial, and a form of blog spam as well. Feiren's comment and others like his will remain on board.

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