US strategy in the East Asian region will be affected if the pan-blue camp continues to lean toward China and remains unwilling to show that Taiwan is determined to defend itself, a US academic said on Friday.
Robert Sutter, a visiting professor of Asian studies at Georgetown University, made the comments while attending a conference on East Asian Security and Taiwan held by the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University.
The article should probably have given more background on Sutter. He's not just any visiting professor, but is one of the most prominent US government scholars on Taiwan. Sutter has headed the non-partisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) desk on Taiwan, and also run the CIA Taiwan desk. He's been a professor at George Washington for many years. Sutter is well-respected, well-balanced, and extremely sensible.
He said that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) had not taken advantage of the Bush administration's goodwill over the past six years and accused him of promoting provocative policies.
I'd say that the first half of this sentence is resoundingly correct, but the second more probably reflects a wish to be balanced rather than anything Chen has done. I'll discuss this in another blogpost elsewhere, but the short answer is that there is nothing that Chen can do to avoid being "provocative."
Regardless of whether the US will have a Democrat or Republican president after 2008, the administration will place China in the mainstream and a trend toward marginalizing Taiwan will become unavoidable, he said.
Former US Ambassador to China James Lilley, who also attended the event, said that Americans are realists and that the situation was not as bad as Sutter described it.
Lilley nonetheless added that the US was annoyed by Taiwan's unwillingness to defend itself while asking for US protection, and that the US and Taiwan should work together in examining how Taiwan could effectively defend itself.
Note that both men made it clear that the Legislature's foot-dragging on the arms sale is intolerable. I wish they'd put more effort into (1) giving Taiwan more co-manufacturing efforts in the project; and (2) reducing the price of the submarines.
Taiwan's representative to Washington David Lee (李大維), in his opening remarks at the conference, said that recent incidents, such as Chinese submarines violating Japanese territorial waters, together with China not having renounced the use of military force against Taiwan, show that China poses a threat not only to Taiwan, but also to East Asian regional security and stability in general.
Quite true. It's incredible that you can be thought statesmanlike for threatening to plunge the region into war whenever Taiwan exercises its democracy, but you can be provocative for closing a symbolic government organ with a US$30 annual budget. Clearly something is very, very wrong.
UPDATE: The PFP wants to get rid of Steve Young, the unofficial US rep to Taiwan.
[Taiwan] [US] [China] [Bush] [Chen Shui-bian] [Taiwan Relations Act (TRA)] [US Foreign Policy]