Taiwan Communiqué No. 83, October 1998

Taiwan Betrayed

Taipei rally against Three nos
Taipei rally against the "Three no's"

While the United States Congress, the press, and the public in general are preoccupied with Mr. Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky, Taiwanese and Taiwanese-Americans remain angered and dismayed by Mr. Clinton's immoral betrayal of Taiwan when he pronounced the "Three no's" during his China trip in June/July 1998.

Mr. Clinton's reckless statements were subsequently rejected by Congress and repudiated through two resolutions adopted with sheer unanimous votes in the U.S. House and Senate. They were also criticized by numerous commentaries and editorials in virtually all major U.S. publications. However, the White House and State Department continue to maintain that Mr. Clinton's statements constitute "no change" in policy.

As noted by members of Congress and several prominent publications — such as the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal — Mr. Clinton's statement went way beyond the careful language of earlier U.S. formulations. Thus, either there was a change of policy, or the White House and State Department "no change" pronouncements mean that Mr. Clinton's "Three no's" are null and void.

Towards a "Three Yes" policy

Taiwanese-Americans and many in Taiwan have lost all confidence in Mr. Clinton as a President. He has failed to stand up for the basic principles of democracy and self-determination, because with his statements he violated the rights of the Taiwanese people to freely determine their own future.

It is thus essential that the next U.S. Administration — whether the Democrats under Mr. Gore or Republicans — will enunciate a new "Three Yes" policy, which does adhere to the basic principles of democracy and self-determination (for which the United States supposedly stands), and which specifically endorses that:

  1. Yes, the people of Taiwan have the right to determine their own future,
  2. Yes, China can accept Taiwan as a friendly neighbor, instead of perpetuating the hostility and rivalry dating back from the Chinese Civil War they fought against the Kuomintang over four decades ago, and
  3. Yes, the international community will accept Taiwan as a full and equal member in the international family of nations, including the United Nations.

Clintonian doubletalk

The passage of the two resolutions in Congress in July 1998, and earlier letters by members of the House and Senate, who urged him strongly not to let any improvement of relations with China take place at the expense of Taiwan, prompted Mr. Clinton on 18 August 1998 to reply with a fuzzy-sounding letter to a number of members of Congress.

In the letter Mr. Clinton commits the same mistakes of doubletalk, half-truths, innuendo and outright falsehoods which plagued his defense against the allegations in the Monica Lewinsky case. He writes:

"Our position on Taiwan independence dates back at least to Henry Kissinger's 1971 visit to China and was put on record by Deputy Secretary Christopher in 1979 hearings on the Taiwan Relations Act (the ruling party of Taiwan did not then and does not now support independence for Taiwan either)."

Taiwan Communiqué comment: that Mr. Kissinger mumbled something in a closed meeting during his 1971 China visit does not make it U.S. policy: it was not expressed openly in any way, and it was not discussed with, let alone agreed to by, Congress. Furthermore, the transcripts of the 1979 hearings on the Taiwan Relations Act do not show any statement by Mr. Christopher regarding Taiwan independence.

That the ruling party in Taiwan did not support Taiwan independence in 1971 is immaterial: it was a repressive dictatorship. Before 1987, the government of the former Soviet Union did not support democracy either, but it was clear that the majority of the Russian people wanted it, and the United States saw fit to push for democratization of the Soviet Union.

By the same token, it is clear that the Taiwanese want to make a free and democratic decision on their future, and want to live in peace with their neighbors. The United States thus needs to extricate itself from the outdated "One China" policy, and align its policies to the present-day reality that a free and democratic Taiwan wants to be accepted as a full and equal member of the international community.

It is indeed essential to work towards a peaceful resolution of the differences between Taiwan and China, but this is not achieved by dancing to Beijing's tunes. It can only be achieved if the US and other democratic nations insist on stability and peace in East Asia on the basis of democratic values and the principle of self-determination, and do not accept an artificial Munich 1938-style peace in the Taiwan Strait on the terms of a Communist, dictatorial regime in Beijing.

Mr. Clinton's "Three no's" statement also runs counter to what the American people want: in an opinion poll conducted in May 1998 by Frederick Schneider Research in Washington DC, as much as 85 percent of the respondents said they supported Taiwan's membership in the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, and other major international bodies. A solid majority — 71 percent — supported that a democratic Taiwan should be considered separate and independent from communist China.

"A new form of apartheid"

In response to Mr. Clinton's ill-fated "Three no's", the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan issued a pastoral letter in which it expressed deep disappointment in Mr. Clinton, and voiced strong opposition to his statements about Taiwan.

The Presbyterian Church said that Mr. Clinton's statement has "...greatly jeopardized Taiwan's future and the rights of the twenty-one million Taiwanese people. Not only will it potentially isolate Taiwan in the international community, it also unjustly imposes a "new form of apartheid" policy on Taiwan, by treating the people of Taiwan as second-class citizens of the world.

The PCT added that "...on the basis of the Church's identification with the land and the people of Taiwan, we have always emphasized that human rights is a gift given by God, which cannot be removed by anyone. In the face of this critical situation, we feel that we need to remind our believers to stand firm in their faith and to encourage the people of Taiwan to rise up and strive towards making Taiwan into a new and independent country."

The Presbyterian Church in Taiwan then issued its appeal as follows:

Hence We Appeal to:

1. The members of our churches to pray for the future of Taiwan and the welfare of its people. That they will actively seek opportunities to tell their friends abroad about the Taiwanese people's desire to seek independence for their country.

2. The ruling Nationalist government of Taiwan (Kuomintang-KMT) to immediately renounce their unrealistic policy of "One China" and announce to the international community that Taiwan is an independent and sovereign country. Its fate should not be decided by any foreign superpower.

3. The Taiwan government and all political organizations in Taiwan, in order to protect the dignity and the rights of the people, to cease all talks with China if China refuses to abandon the idea of military intervention of Taiwan.

4. The international community not to submit to the unreasonable demands of the Chinese because of economic interests or fear of the superpowers. Democracy and freedom, achieved through years of sacrifice and struggle by the Taiwanese people, are not just a precious possession of the people of Taiwan. Any violation against the dignity and democracy of the Taiwanese people also poses a threat to human values and civilization worldwide.

5. In search of peace, the countries of the world should also pursue justice. if the international community continues to isolate Taiwan, this action will tempt China to invade Taiwan, and thus will damage the peace and harmony of the Asia-Pacific region. Henceforth, in order to promote peace in the world, the world's nations should actively assist Taiwan in joining all international organizations.

The appeal was signed by Reverend Hsieh Chieh-ming, and by Reverend William J.K. Lo, respectively Moderator and General Secretary of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan.

Weinberger: "Clinton selling out Taiwan"

In an article in the 10 August 1998 issue of Forbes Magazine, former US Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger wrote an article strongly criticizing US President Bill Clinton for selling out Taiwan.

Weinberger said that Mr. Clinton's remarks on the "three no's" during his recent China visit "...went a long country mile beyond the U.S.' carefully ambiguous policy", which was that the United States only "...acknowledged that we understood what China's claim was — but we never went beyond that."

Mr. Weinberger wondered who approved "...this unilateral attempt to change U.S. policy so drastically." He added: "Certainly not Congress nor anyone else in the Administration. Mr. Clinton alone uttered those dangerously careless remarks."

Mr. Weinberger stated that in 1994 (in the Taiwan Policy Review — Ed.) the U.S. pledged to work to "make Taiwan's voice heard" in all international organizations of which it is not a member." But now, Mr. Clinton is "..pledging to dash any hopes our old friend Taiwan has of joining the U.N., the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, or any other organization to which China might object."

Mr. Weinberger continues: "And what did we get in return for Mr. Clinton's extraordinary cave-in? The Chinese allowed Mr. Clinton a televised speech, and he was the subject of many admiring toasts from president Jiang."

Mr. Weinberger then said that during his China trip, "...what Mr. Clinton forgot — or chose to ignore — was that Taiwan, unlike the PRC, is a free country. It has a free press, free elections, and freedom of religion. It has the right to determine its own future."

He charged that "Mr. Clinton's extraordinary diplomatic and political blunders will ... encourage the Chinese to believe that they can use force against Taiwan. An we will develop ingenuous arguments as to why we need to do nothing to stop China."

Mr. Weinberger concludes: "Anything short of a clear repudiation of Clinton's cave-in will only encourage China to think it has a free hand to violate our Taiwan relations Act whenever it chooses."

Arthur Waldron: "Bowing to Beijing"

The September 1998 issue of Commentary Magazine carried an excellent analysis by Dr. Arthur Waldron, professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania and director for Asia at the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute. A number of quotes from Professor Waldron's article:

He states that with the June 30th "Three no" pronouncements, "..Bill Clinton went farther than any of his predecessors in aligning U.S. policy with Beijing. In so doing, the Clinton administration undermined American alliances, abandoned longstanding American principle, and endangered American interests. The worst of it all is that it was unnecessary."

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Mr. Clinton throwing a "Taiwan steak" to pacify the Chinese dragon

After a brief historical perspective, professor Waldron writes that in the 1960s, U.S. policymakers were confronted by a zero-sum choice between Communist China and Taiwan. They were convinced that good relations with the PRC were in principle desirable, but that "...the idea of sacrificing Taiwan was hardly palatable. Not only was its political system, for all its grave faults, better than the one in Beijing, but the native Taiwanese were clearly the victims of history. Better educated and more advanced in many respects than their distant mainland cousins, they had not elected to join the Chinese civil war, and now they were being largely silenced by the fierce authoritarian methods of Chiang's Nationalist regime."

He then presents an analysis of the developments in the early 1970s, which led to the Shanghai Communiqué,. He argues that the importance of the Communiqué, "...lay in what it did not say. While declaring to Beijing, in effect, "We recognize you," it did not say, "We also agree that Taiwan is yours."

Professor Waldron then proceeds with his analysis through the 1980s and early 1990s, and arrives at the Chinese missile crises of July / August 1995, and states: "President Clinton responded to China's violation of the tacit understandings on the non-use of force by doing nothing at all. The State Department's comment -- that the missile firings were "not conducive to peace and stability in the area of the Taiwan Strait" -- was utterly inadequate, and helped set the stage for what was to come."

"What was to come" were the much larger military exercises of late 1995 and early 1996, in advance of the Taiwanese Presidential elections, when the Clinton Administration finally acted and sent two aircraft carriers to the area near Taiwan.

Professor Waldron then states: "But the reckless display of Chinese brinkmanship had clearly frightened the Clinton administration, and, .... the intimidation worked. What emerged from the White House was not a renewed emphasis on the need to deter Chinese aggression, or to enhance the security of our democratic allies. Quite the opposite: within a few months, the White House had responded to the Chinese threats and use of violence by unveiling its new strategy of "engagement" with Beijing.

Couched in the language of realism, moderation, dialogue, and respect for the culture of others, the new American strategy, which the President's trip to China this past July was meant to dramatize, is a transparent exercise in accommodation."

After characterizing Mr. Clinton's 30 June 1998 statements as a "fundamental shift" in the U.S. position, professor Waldron asks:

"Why not [support independence for] for Taiwan? The only possible answer is that Beijing opposes it. And why should we not support membership in the UN for a state that obviously meets every relevant criterion? The answer is the same: Beijing opposes it.

In brief, from an ambiguous and open-ended approach premised on no use and no threat of force, the U.S. has now moved to a strategy, sparked precisely by the successful use of mainland Chinese force against Taiwan, in which the outcome is strictly circumscribed and which carries the implicit warning to the Taiwanese that challenging the new understanding will entail the loss of American support.

This is hardly a glorious position for the world's oldest democracy to be adopting toward a democratic ally. And it is profoundly unrealistic to boot. Does anyone believe that Taiwan is ever going to fly the flag of the People's Republic of China atop its public buildings, or agree to cease electing its own president, except at bayonet point? Yet, our entire strategy invites the display of bayonets, and possibly their use."

After a further analysis of how the Clinton Administration failed to learn the right lesson from the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe, and failing to pick up the right signals from Chinese leaders like Zhao Ziyang, Professor Waldron concludes:

"Where do we go from here? To begin with, it must be understood that the alternative to Clinton's "engagement" policy is not, as the administration would have us believe, the "isolation" of China and a new cold war. Rather, it is engagement of another sort: one in which our allies and our democratic values come first and in which threats of force do not elicit American retreats.

It is preposterous to take China pretty much as a given, as we once took the USSR, and then consider how the rest of Asia and the world will have to adjust in deference to its needs, sensitivities, and spheres of interest. To the contrary, our own policy must be based on a security system among us and the democratic states of Asia in which China is not a crucial load-bearing element.

Such a policy, instead of attempting to isolate and pressure Taiwan ("put it in a box," in the term favored by the Administration), would forthrightly support the island's democratization, push Beijing to accept its reality, and, without foreclosing any options, seek to find it a legitimate place in the international community. ....

Above all, such a policy would proceed from the lessons learned by the end of the cold war in the West. As we once staked too much on the Soviet Union, so we are staking too much on China, going long when we should be hedging, and shorting the fundamentals. By this means we are setting ourselves up for disaster when Chinese Communism sells off. It is time to recognize that the challenge in Asia is not to "restore" a world but to surmount the coming upheaval and help bring about, for ourselves and our allies, the future we wish to live in."

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