Let no country stand between Taiwan and independence
In his Aug. 2 commentary, "A war waiting to happen in
Asia?" Doug Bandow observes that "the United States
opposes self-determination by [the people of Taiwan]."
Although disturbing and sad, Mr. Bandow's claim is correct.
Mr. Bandow weighs the right of self-determination, as
enshrined in article 1 of the U.N. Charter, against China's
threat to attack Taiwan once the people of Taiwan decide to
exercise this right.
One should not forget that the United States is bound by the
1979 Taiwan Relations Act to come to Taiwan's side in case of
a Chinese attack. No positive or negative conditions are
spelled out in the act.
The last time its provisions were implemented was in March
1996, when the U.S. sent two aircraft carrier battle groups to
the Taiwan Strait. Mr. Bandow concludes: "Now, before the
next crisis, is the time to adjust U.S. policy toward Taiwan."
Indeed, the administration's wavering on Taiwan's status
should come to a halt. The United States must clarify its
position on Taiwan. Any U.S. statement that China could
construe as saying the United States would back down if China
threatened force against Taiwan would only encourage China to
do so. The more China believes that the United States would
not stand idly by, the less likely it is that China would
Taiwan's future is not a matter for President Clinton, the
American government or Beijing to decide. If the people of
Taiwan decide through a democratic mechanism to opt for de
jure independence, the international community in general and
the United States in particular must honor that democratically
At the end of the day, only the people of Taiwan have the
right to determine the future of Taiwan.
Prof. Wen-yen Chen
President, Formosan Association for Public Affairs,