US must stop play­ing ‘Tai­wan card’

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - VIEWS -

The Na­tional De­fense Au­tho­riza­tion Act for Fis­cal Year 2018, passed by the US House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives on July 14, re­quires the sec­re­tary of de­fense to study the fea­si­bil­ity of “re-es­tab­lish­ing” reg­u­lar ports of call for the United States Navy at Kaoh­si­ung or any other suit­able port in Tai­wan and “nor­mal­iz­ing” the trans­fer of de­fense equip­ment and ser­vices to the is­land.

China has strongly op­posed the move, be­cause if the US Se­nate votes in fa­vor of the bill and US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump signs it into law, it will be a se­ri­ous vi­o­la­tion of the one-China pol­icy and the Three Joint Com­mu­niqués that guide Sino-US re­la­tions.

Dur­ing the talks for nor­mal­iz­ing Sino-US diplo­matic ties, for­mer leader Deng Xiaop­ing made it ab­so­lutely clear that Wash­ing­ton has to sever “diplo­matic” ties with Tai­wan, with­draw US troops from Tai­wan and an­nul the mu­tual de­fense treaty with Tai­wan. Diplo­matic ties were nor­mal­ized on Jan 1, 1979, only af­ter the Jimmy Carter ad­min­is­tra­tion agreed to ful­fill the three con­di­tions.

Bei­jing, on its part, agreed to Wash­ing­ton main­tain­ing un­of­fi­cial re­la­tions with Tai­wan through com­mer­cial and cul­tural ex­changes. All US ad­min­is­tra­tions since have stuck to this pol­icy. A strate­gic port-of-call ar­range­ment, how­ever, can­not be part of an un­of­fi­cial re­la­tion­ship.

Some pro-Tai­wan forces in the US are plot­ting to dis­rupt crossS­traits re­la­tions by sup­port­ing “pro-in­de­pen­dence” forces on the is­land and cre­at­ing ob­sta­cles for Tai­wan’s re­uni­fi­ca­tion with the main­land. At times, th­ese pro-Tai­wan forces have given calls to “dis­con­nect Tai­wan from US-PRC pol­icy to the great­est ex­tent pos­si­ble”, be­cause they want “US-Tai­wan” ties to have their own agenda.

The peace­ful de­vel­op­ment and eco­nomic in­te­gra­tion across the Straits rat­tled th­ese forces. But af­ter the Demo­cratic Pro­gres­sive Party won the Tai­wan elec­tion last year, they seized the op­por­tu­nity to “ad­vise” the is­land au­thor­i­ties and act as a bro­ker between Wash­ing­ton and Taipei.

Bei­jing has to take proper mea­sures to foil their at­tempts.

The pro-Tai­wan el­e­ments are con­cen­trated in the US Congress. Con­ser­va­tive con­gress­men have sought the up­grad­ing of US-Tai­wan un­of­fi­cial ties. For ex­am­ple, the House For­eign Af­fairs Com­mit­tee pro­posed the “Tai­wan Pol­icy Act” of 2013, de­mand­ing com­pre­hen­sive up­grad­ing of re­la­tions with Tai­wan in the po­lit­i­cal, eco­nomic and se­cu­rity fields. The so-called act was ac­tu­ally the Tai­wan Se­cu­rity En­hance­ment Act of 1999 in dis­guise.

In De­cem­ber 2016, some con­gress­men again forced their ideas into the Na­tional De­fense Au­tho­riza­tion Act for Fis­cal Year 2017, whose Sec­tion 1284 ob­li­gates the Pen­tagon to con­duct an ex­change pro­gram with Tai­wan in­volv­ing se­nior mil­i­tary of­fi­cers and se­nior of­fi­cials, and al­low­ing gen­er­als or flag of­fi­cers on ac­tive duty as well as Pen­tagon of­fi­cials above the level of as­sis­tant de­fense sec­re­tary to visit the is­land.

On Dec 23 last year, US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama signed the act into law. But since the law refers to Sec­tion 1284 as the “sense of Congress on mil­i­tary ex­changes between the US and Tai­wan”, it has no bind­ing force. Those US politi­cians still try­ing to use the “Tai­wan card” should know they could end up hurt­ing them­selves.

And the US ad­min­is­tra­tion is ca­pa­ble of ma­nip­u­lat­ing the leg­is­la­tion process both ways; it can in­flu­ence crit­i­cal mem­bers of Congress to de­lay or even stop the pas­sage of a cer­tain bill. In early 2000, for in­stance, the Bill Clin­ton ad­min­is­tra­tion worked on the Se­nate af­ter the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives had ap­proved the Tai­wan Se­cu­rity En­hance­ment Act be­cause it was strongly op­posed to the bill. As a re­sult, the Se­nate did not vote on the bill.

The one-China pol­icy is the foun­da­tion of Sino-US re­la­tions. And the Tai­wan ques­tion is at the core of all joint Sino-US com­mu­niqués and re­mains the most im­por­tant and most sen­si­tive issue in bi­lat­eral re­la­tions, as it con­cerns China’s sovereignty and ter­ri­to­rial in­tegrity, and rep­re­sents China’s core in­ter­ests.

China’s po­si­tion has al­ways been clear and firm, with no room for hes­i­ta­tion or com­pro­mise. Eco­nomic and trade is­sues may be ne­go­tiable, but the one-China pol­icy is not. The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion should learn from the ex­pe­ri­ences of pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tions and de­sist from us­ing the “Tai­wan card”, so as to help Sino-US re­la­tions to progress steadily for the ben­e­fit of both sides.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion should learn from the ex­pe­ri­ences of pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tions and de­sist from us­ing the “Tai­wan card”, so as to help Sino-US re­la­tions to progress steadily for the ben­e­fit of both sides.

The au­thor is a re­searcher at the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sci­ences. Cour­tesy: chin­aus­fo­cus.com

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