Don’tbemuddle

<>Perhaps they love Taiwan so much — so much so that they have become muddle-headed. Among them were Joseph Wu, former Taipei representative in Washington, and Hsiao Bi-khim, a former legislator and now director of the Department of International Affairs of the Democratic Progressive Party. All of a sudden, both of them were unable to think clearly about a candid remark President Ma Ying-jeou made in an interview with CNN reporter Christiane Amanpour.

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<>Ma told Amanpour on Friday Taiwan “will continue to reduce the risks and we will continue to purchase arms from the United States. But we will never ask the U.S. to fight for Taiwan. This is something that is very, very clear.” Wu and Hsiao regarded Ma's decision to “never ask the U.S. to fight for Taiwan” as an unforgivable faux pas. Though Tsai Ing-wen, chairperson of the opposition party, didn't join in the blaming of Ma, the comments the twosome made represent DPP's official complaint against the president they all accuse of trying to sell out Taiwan by signing an economic cooperation framework agreement with the People's Republic of China.

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<>Commenting on the Ma remark, Wu said the president considers it “a walk in the park for China to invade Taiwan.” “Using the word 'never' means we have completely ruled out the idea of asking the U.S. for help and that they can stand aside,” said Wu, a former chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council. “This is an extremely unfair comment to make to our most important friend,” he added.

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<>Hsiao took Ma to task for removing Washington's strategic ambiguity over what the United States might do if hostilities occur across the Taiwan Strait. “Ma's remark,” she said, “removed the vagueness of the United States' Asia-Pacific policy and that the Taiwan Relations Act could allow the U.S. to assist Taiwan in security matters if needed.”

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<>Their comments are quoted word for word from those published in an English-language newspaper in Taipei yesterday. Maybe, neither Wu nor Hsiao said so in Chinese, which was translated into English. But the gist of their complaint was fully conveyed.

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<>Now let's examine the Taiwan Relations Act , one of the pillars of U.S.-China policy. The TRA stipulates that the United States “shall make available to Taiwan such defense articles and defense services in such quantity as may be necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability.” Another stipulation requires the president of the United States to “inform the Congress promptly of any threat to the security of the social or economic system of the people on Taiwan.” Still another makes it necessary for the United States to “maintain the capacity to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social or economic system of the people on Taiwan.” The American president and the Congress, according to the TRA, “shall determine the nature and quantity of Taiwan's defense articles and services based solely upon their judgment of the needs of Taiwan.” But nowhere in the TRA is mentioned whether the United States shall come to the rescue of Taiwan — not to mention of how — if an invasion were launched from across the strait. Washington terms its stance as strategic ambiguity.

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<>The truth is that Uncle Sam will never send a soldier to Taiwan to engage in the fighting, if and when the People's Liberation Army starts an invasion. Even if the Sino-American mutual defense treaty signed in 1954 had not been abolished following Washington's normalization of relations with Beijing, Uncle Sam would never fight for Taiwan simply because it isn't in its national interests to do so. As a matter of fact, all that the United States would do if a war broke out between Taiwan and China is to declare a neutralization of the strait as President Harry S. Truman did on the day after Kim Il Song had unleashed his army to cross Parallel 38 to occupy Seoul in the late spring of 1950. The neutralization, enforced by the U.S. Seventh Fleet, did prevent Mao Zedong from washing Taiwan with blood.

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<>A new neutralization of the strait is totally and absolutely unnecessary. The reason is that there won't be any war between the two sides of the strait. There was a one-in-a million chance of war across the strait while President Chen Shui-bian was in office. He provoked Beijing with his China-baiting brinksmanship into adopting an anti-secession law which codifies an automatic invasion of Taiwan, if Taipei declares independence or moves too near toward de jure independence. Chen is now under detention waiting for a decision at the second trial after he was convicted of forgery, corruption, graft, and money laundering and sentenced to life in prison by the Taipei district court last year. President Ma is following a “no-independence/no-war” policy that has effectively disposed of any chance of war between Taiwan and China.

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<>Probably, opposition leaders are dreaming their party is in power now. Only a DPP president may try to move Taiwan so near toward independence as to compel the People's Republic to declare war across the strait. Well, they may try to elect one of them president to replace Ma in 2012. Not until then should they complain about President Ma disregarding of Taiwan's security and making a “most unfair comment” against “our most important friend.”

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