Los Angeles Times Thursday, September 21, 2000
of 'One China' Clash with Taiwan Realities
that the U.S. Senate has passed legislation to permanently
normalize trade relations with China, we should ask whether
Washington will continue to allow Beijing's bluster over Taiwan
to unduly influence U.S. China policy. Last month, the administration,
concerned about a Beijing temper tantrum as the Senate considered
the landmark bill, put extraordinary pressure on a congressional
delegation not to meet with Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian
during his overnight transit stop in Los Angeles. Now Taiwan's
vice president, Annette Lu, has been denied a stop in New
this month, China again blocked Taiwan's bid to join the United
Nations, marshaling the votes to defeat a proposal to put
the issue on the General Assembly agenda. The U.S. voted no,
adhering to President Clinton's public promises to oppose
U.N. membership for Taiwan. Next year, the U.S. should leap
into longer-term thinking about the China-Taiwan conflict,
is the only U.S. president to publicly espouse the "three
no's": No Taiwan independence, no "two-China"
formulas and no Taiwan entry in international organizations
requiring sovereignty for membership. His tendency to pander
to Beijing's concept of Taiwan as a breakaway province characterizes
an ad hoc approach that invites serious miscalculation and
confrontation: Witness the biggest show of U.S. force in the
Pacific since Vietnam during the 1996 Taiwan elections and
the thinly veiled threat of a repeat performance in White
House expressions of "grave concern" during the
run-up to Chen's election this year.
Beijing in words and Taiwan in deeds carries considerable
potential for U.S. involvement in a future conflict. Mainland
positions ensure that China-Taiwan tensions will flare again.
keenly aware of Beijing's promises of war if he should act
on his long-standing advocacy of Taiwan independence, has
been conciliatory to a fault. He abandoned his party's platform
and pledged that he will not declare independence as long
as China doesn't use force against Taiwan. He has made many
offers to discuss a "one-China" vision, but Beijing
now rejects an earlier compromise that would allow each side
to have its own interpretation of "one China."
has demanded, as a precondition for any talks, clear acceptance
of its "one-China" principle, acknowledgment that
Taiwanese are Chinese and a clear commitment to pursue reunification.
No Taiwanese president would sell out the island's future
political status just to get to the negotiating table.
next U.S. president should ask whether it serves American
interests to profess policies that could make the U.S. a hostage
in a dangerous game of Chinese chicken.
is a destructive fantasy to expect that Taiwan would voluntarily
relinquish the right to determine how it is governed. Is the
U.S. willing to risk involvement in a war if either Beijing
or Taiwan miscalculates in this never-ending game of threat
and bluff? Or should the U.S. start telling Beijing that the
foundations of U.S.-China relations for the past 28 years
rest on a lie that no longer can be sustained?
U.S. needs careful moves to persuade China to accept two realities.
First, threats will only make it harder, if not impossible,
to achieve any kind of meaningful association with Taiwan,
much less reunification. Second, traditional views of sovereignty
will not lead to peace across the strait.
China" as now demanded by Beijing will go nowhere beyond
continued stalemate and eventual conflict. It is becoming
clear that nothing short of Beijing's eventual acknowledgment
that Taiwan will govern itself as a separate sovereignty can
lead Taipei to accept a so-called "one-China" solution.
If Beijing wants to seriously pursue its vision, it will have
to find an acceptable reality that accords Taiwan some form
of international legitimacy.
will need to nudge both parties to find a way to accommodate
"one-China" dreams and Taiwan realities. For starters,
Washington should reject Beijing's attempts to further assert
its claims to Taiwan by altering the agreed-to formula for
accession of both parties to the World Trade Organization.
Next, the U.S. should underscore its interest in reconciliation
based on compromise by moving toward support for observer
status for Taiwan in international councils, particularly
those that should be nonpolitical, like the World Health Organization.
This would be part of a gradual process of educating Beijing
that a peaceful resolution of its squabble with Taipei demands
Taiwan representation in world bodies, including the United
does not mean provoking Beijing with diplomatic recognition
of Taiwan, but we do need to make it clear to Chinese leaders
that should their threats impel Taiwan to declare independence,
the responsibility for splitting China would be theirs alone.
Goldsmith, a Retired U.s. Foreign Service Officer, Was Posted
to Taiwan From 1985 to 1989