Stand strong with Taipei

The Washington Times Daily - - Opinion -

Re­cently, sev­eral for­mer se­nior U.S. pol­i­cy­mak­ers have rec­om­mended that the United States re-ex­am­ine its sup­port for Tai­wan. Some pro­voked a coun­ter­cho­rus that pro­po­nents of this re-ex­am­i­na­tion were guilty of seek­ing to aban­don Tai­wan. Should the United States be will­ing to aban­don Tai­wan in re­turn for its closer re­la­tions with Bei­jing? It’s hor­ren­dous to con­tem­plate, but it’s the kind of ques­tion that un­der­lies a sim­mer­ing de­bate over U.S. pol­icy to­ward Tai­wan.

The in­creas­ing num­ber of aca­demics and for­mer of­fi­cials sug­gest­ing the United States re­con­sider its com­mit­ment to de­fend Tai­wan is a warn­ing sign. Taipei has to re­main vig­i­lant be­cause cross-strait rap­proche­ment with China could in­crease Amer­i­can wor­ries over co­op­er­a­tion with Tai­wan in the mil­i­tary and in­tel­li­gence fields. It also raises ques­tions about the need for the United States to con­tinue to sup­port Tai­wan.

Taipei should en­sure that Washington un­der­stands its moves to in­crease con­tacts with Bei­jing have noth­ing to do with uni­fi­ca­tion. Its ef­forts to im­prove crosss­trait re­la­tions should take place with the un­der­stand­ing of Washington, in or­der to en­sure the idea of aban­don­ing Tai­wan does not gain trac­tion. Taipei must present more con­vinc­ing ar­gu­ments to per­suade Washington and make cross-strait in­ter­ac­tion as trans­par­ent as pos­si­ble to en­sure mu­tual trust.

If the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion is truly in­tent on re­turn­ing to South­east Asia, it should do more to en­cour­age China and Tai­wan to defuse one of the Cold War’s last re­main­ing flash­points. The most im­por­tant step the United States could take, how­ever, would be com­mit­ting to sup­port Tai­wan in ways that will not desta­bi­lize the sit­u­a­tion across the strait. The chal­lenge for the United States is to press China to make re­spon­si­ble choices that con­trib­ute to sta­bil­ity, pros­per­ity, peace and hu­man rights.

KENT WANG

Po­tomac Falls, Va.

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