Taiwan Communiqué No. 73, December 1996

Betraying Taiwan again ?

Taiwan is not part of China

In 1965 Mr. George H. Kerr published his "Formosa Betrayed." This monumental work by the former US diplomat described the betrayal of the people of Taiwan by the international community in the period just after World War II, when the Allied Powers allowed the repressive and dictatorial Chiang Kai-shek to occupy the island and move his defeated troops and government from China to the island. The Taiwanese people were not consulted in these decisions. Our voice was not heard.

While Mr. Clinton's moves to improve ties with the Communist rulers in Beijing, and Mr. Mandela's decision to establish diplomatic links with China, have understandable arguments in favor of them, we emphasize that they should not be undertaken at the expense of Taiwan and its future as a free, democratic and independent country.

We thus strongly disagree with the unnamed American officials who reportedly "...assured China at every opportunity about Washington's commitment to the 1982 communiqué and Taiwan's status as a part of China to be eventually reunited with the mainland" ("Christopher, in Beijing, sees better relations with China", New York Times, 21 November 1996).

Such statements are a violation of democratic principles, because they are being made without any consulation with, or consent of, the people of Taiwan. Together with the present tendency in the international community to cuddle up to an undemocratic and repressive regime in Beijing and continue to sideline Taiwan, in spite of its impressive achievements in both the economic and political area, these moves amount to a fourth betrayal of the people of "Ilha Formosa", the beautiful island.

Do not betray Formosa a fourth time

Mr. George Kerr was an American diplomat at the US Consulate in Taipei at the time of the "February 28 Incident" of 1947, when Chiang Kai-shek's troops occupied the island, and massacred between 18,000 and 28,000 Taiwanese, many of them leading members of the Taiwanese society, such as doctors, lawyers, mayors etc.

In the subsequent years, virtually all other nations in Asia and Africa gradually gained their independence under the auspices of the newly-formed United Nations. The people of Taiwan were subjected to Chiang Kai-shek's martial law, which lasted from 1948 until 1987, the longest martial law in modern history.

The United States and the Western Allies made a meager attempt to correct the situation at the San Francisco Peace Treaty in 1952, when they declared that "..the future of Taiwan will be determined in accord with the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter." Regrettably, this provision of the Treaty has yet to receive a follow-up.

The second betrayal of Taiwan took place in 1971-72 when the West accepted the authorities in Beijing as the representatives of China in the United Nations, but made no provisions for the representation of the people of Taiwan. The 1971-72 decisions in the UN and by the Nixon Administration were made without any democratic representation of the people of Taiwan. Again, the people of Taiwan were not consulted in these decisions about their future. Our voice was not heard.

The third betrayal occurred in 1978, when the Carter Administration derecognized the Kuomintang authorities in Taipei and recognized the Beijing authorities. While recognizing Beijing was a valid step, it should not have been done at the expense of the people in Taiwan. The US should have avoided any reference to the idiosyncratic "One China" concept, a Kissinger-legacy which has now been rendered null-and-void by the development of Taiwan into a blossoming democracy.

What the U.S. should do

We strongly urge the Clinton administration not to let any improvement of relations with China take place at the expense of the 21 million people of Taiwan or their future as a free, democratic and independent country.

It is clear that the international position of Taiwan hangs in limbo. This is partly due to the shortsighted policies of Taiwan's Kuomintang authorities themselves, who for far too long claimed to be the legitimate rulers of China.

The other reason why Taiwan's international position hangs in limbo is the "creative ambiguity" of the anachronistic "One China" policy and the Three Communiqués of 1971, 1978 and 1982, which were arrived at without any representation or consent of the Taiwanese people. Our voice was not heard.

It is clear that the "One China" policy is now outdated, because Taiwan has developed into a free and democratic country. It fulfills all the requirements of a nation-state: a defined territory, a population and a government which exercises effective control. Taiwan is de-facto independent nation, and deserves to be recognized as such.

Mr. Clinton needs to hold the American principles of freedom, democracy, and self-determination high. He needs to express clearly that

  1. it is the right of the people of Taiwan to determine their own future, in accordance with the principles of self-determination and independence, as laid down in the Charter of the United Nations, and thus free from coercion by China;
  2. the US supports Taiwan's right to be a full member of the international community in general and the United Nations in particular;
  3. it is in China's own interest to work towards peaceful coexistence, and accept Taiwan as a friendly neighbor, instead of perpetuating an old anachronistic Civil War in which the Taiwanese people had no part; and
  4. the United States will support and help defend Taiwan in case of any further Chinese aggression.

Manila and beyond

At the end of November 1996, President Clinton attended the APEC meeting in Manila and met Mr. Jiang Zemin there. The occasion set off a number of commentaries in prominent American and international publications on the desired direction for US policy towards East Asia in general, and China in particular. Below we present a number of highlights:

In a lucid analysis published in the New York Times, MIT emeritus-professor Lucian W. Pye ("What China Wants," New York Times, 26 November 1996 published as "Official Chinese Xenophobia and Manipulation" in the International Herald Tribune of 27 November 1996) examined the present Chinese "hollow form of nationalism ... that is little more than xenophobia and racist passion."

Professor Pye also criticized those in the United States who whenever the Chinese declare that "the relationship is in trouble" raise their voice "...in self-criticism indeed providing more sophisticated rationalizations for the behavior of the Chinese than they themselves could produce."

Taiwan Communiqué comment: although professor Pye does not name any specific persons, it is rather obvious that he refers to the likes of Henry Kissinger, Chas Freeman, and Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, who at the slightest signal from Beijing start kowtowing and piping Chinese tunes.

As he did in earlier articles, professor Pye argues against "quiet diplomacy." He says that to the Chinese this strategy only suggests weakness, and states that there is no way this strategy really works with Beijing.

Professor Pye argues in favor of "a set of coherent and firm policies towards China that will define and integrate our security issues with our economic and cultural priorities (this includes human rights)." He concludes: "An America that can articulate a clear vision for the future of East Asia will encourage the Chinese to abandon their power plays and to become a constructive world power."

A second commentary was by Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, published in the International Herald Tribune on 27 November 1996 ("It's a police state, so don't invite its president to visit"). In the article, Mr. Cohen argues strongly against inviting Mr. Jiang Zemin for a state visit to the United States, saying that China is a ruthless police state.

Mr. Cohen describes the "pediatric holocaust" in Chinese orphanages, where the mortality rate ranges from 59.2 percent to 72.5 percent, much higher than the 40 percent of the Rumanian orphanages after the Iron Curtain came down. Mr. Cohen also refers to coerced abortion in China, the capricious use of capital punishment, the persistence of the Gulag prison system, and concludes that a mere political relationship is all that is required not a state visit in which the US would gain little and lose much including, most importantly, respect.

The third commentary also came from the Washington Post, an editorial titled "Selling Cheap in China" (Washington Post, 26 November 1996). In the piece, the paper criticized that optimism of the Clinton Administration after the meeting of Mr. Clinton with Mr. Jiang Zemin in Manila.

The Washington Post stated that "...if anything, Beijing has become more oppressive of its own people. It has made clearer that it will not respect the democratic will of Hong Kong when it takes over that British colony next July. Its trade surplus with the US has increased .....its policies on missile and nuclear-technology proliferation remain a matter of justifiable worry, and its intolerance of democratic Taiwan persists."

The editorial concludes: "The Clinton administration decided it wanted a dialogue, and it now seems grateful to China for agreeing to engage in one. But dialogue should be a means to a diplomatic end, not an end in itself."

A similar message emanated from a New York Times editorial titled "Time for a broader Asian agenda" a few days earlier (23 November 1996). It stated that the Clinton Administration has yet to devise a policy that adequately balances American economic and security interests in the region. The editorial emphasized that the US could help assure stability in the region by encouraging China, Russia and Japan to assert themselves economically rather than militarily.

However, the article stated, China's rising military power is reshaping relations among Asian nations, and particularly Japan was anxiously studying Chinese intentions. It said that Washington "...has not found effective ways to moderate Chinese behavior or hold Beijing to agreements it has worked out with the US or other countries."

Finally, on 1 December 1996, in a Washington Post article, Mr. Jim Hoagland strongly criticized the Clinton administration for inviting "bloodstained Chinese leaders (who) will be feted at the White House" while China "...continued to persecute dissidents, lie about its arms exports, pressure America not to support Taiwan and fight agressively to keep its trade surplus with the United States constantly expanding."

Mr. Hoagland suggests that "Mickey Mouse emerges as the statesman of the week, with Bill Clinton a distant second" because the Walt Disney Company has decided not to cave in to China, and will proceed with a film about the Dalai Lama despite Beijing's warning of retaliation ("Mousketeer Diplomacy," Washington Post, 1 December 1996).

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