Washington, 7 April 1998. In recent weeks, several ranking
former Clinton Administration officials, including Joseph Nye
(former Asst Sec. Defense), William Perry (former Sec. Defense), and
Anthony Lake (former Nat'l Security Advisor) have visited Taiwan.
Why? Were they engaging in second track diplomacy? Or were they
pressuring Taiwan on behalf of the Clinton Administration to talk
The remarks of these former Clinton officials reveal their
apprehension that a future Democratic Progressive Party-led (DPP)
national government in Taiwan would antagonize China. What nonsense!
Such a view is both uninformed and biased.
The US Administration's "One China" policy, which
premises that all Chinese on both sides of the Taiwan Strait believe
Taiwan is a part of China, is outdated. More and more, Taiwanese are
asserting their own distinct Taiwanese identity - and the
literature, social trends, and opinion polls reflect this.
After all, Administration officials are hell-bent on preserving
the "One China" fiction first established in 1972 rather
than try and develop a real China policy that addresses today's
reality and Taiwan's democratization.
The incredulous belief that a democratic Taiwan's right to
determine its own future independent of China will somehow
antagonize China's dictators is ridiculous. Rather than blame
Taiwan, US Administration should start working together with the DPP
in consultation on Taiwan-China relations.
It is a dangerous illusion that the KMT will hold on to power
much longer. Frankly speaking, the DPP's strong gains at the polls
reflect the public's confidence in a DPP-led national government.
The public has more confidence in the DPP than in the KMT or the New
Party to protect Taiwan's peaceful coexistence with China rather
than unification (unification would surely come under China's
At the same time, current and former US officials should recognize
that the DPP has always been a very responsible political party
advocating friendly and open dialogue with China. In fact, its
recent intra-party debates (Feb. 15-18, Taipei) came to that same
Besides, it is China not Taiwan that ended bilateral talks,
protest against President Lee Teng-hui's visit to his alma mater,
Cornell University, in 1995.
The DPP has long advocated practical policies, which prioritize
the safety and well being of Taiwan's 21 million people. To this
end, the DPP leaders have repeatedly stated that once the DPP
becomes Taiwan's ruling party, it will not formally declare Taiwan's
independence - it doesn't have to because Taiwan is already an
independent, sovereign state. When DPP comes to power it simply
inherits the government of such an independent country.
Since the DPP has already affirmed that it need not reiterate
Taiwan's sovereignty and that the party is ready to improve
bilateral relations with China on a host of issues, then what is it
that really worries US administration officials? Perhaps it is
Washington's own inability to engage China on Taiwan's right to
Fundamentally, China cannot comprehend that democracy has led
Taiwan down a different road. Taiwan is a full democracy whose
people freely elect their leaders and increasingly is asserting
their distinct Taiwanese identity. The Taiwanese people do not want
to live under China's communist rule. America should not try to play
God and dictate Taiwan's destiny.
How about urging China to let the 21 million Taiwanese people
determine their own future? Is that such a far-fetched idea? Hasn't
the Clinton Administration said that it wants to promote and enlarge
democracy around the world? As a first step, US officials, current
and former, should stop acting like China has a say in Taiwan's
future. Washington would do well to face the reality that Taiwan
exists as an independent and democratic policy.
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