Saturday, January 10, 2009

Bush Administration Signals Obama Administration on Cross-Strait Issues

The Taipei Times reported on the remarks of Steven Hadley on Bush Asia policy. According to the Taipei Times, Hadley warned both sides to hew to the Status Quo....

Answering questions following a major farewell speech in Washington on Wednesday, Hadley addressed the China-Taiwan issue in more extensive terms than he has done before in public.

He said the framework of US President George W. Bush’s policies with respect to China and Taiwan had been based on keeping the “status quo” in place while “at the same time making very clear to China that we would carry out our obligations under the Taiwan Relations Act to make sure that Taiwan had the capacity to provide for its own defense.”

“Bush has tried to have a course that basically respects the ‘one China’ policy ... and the three communiques, which are the bulwark of our policy with respect to China, but also to make very clear that both sides, China and Taiwan, need to respect the status quo and there needs to be no unilateral actions by either side,” he said.

“The President stood very firm with respect to those principles ... And I think that helped get through a difficult patch in the relations between China and Taiwan, and [has] helped encourage what is really a very hopeful turn in relations between China and Taiwan,” Hadley said.

As chief White House adviser on security issues, Hadley appeared to be going out of his way to stress — in a way that he has not done before — that under Bush the US was ready to make sure that Taiwan was able to defend itself in the case of an attack by China.

It is significant because much of the speech, which dealt with hotspots around the world, was directed at the incoming administration of president-elect Barack Obama.

When President Bush approached Asia, he approached it not by starting first with our relations with China, but starting first with our relations with our traditional allies. A central feature of his Asia policy was to strengthen those alliances and to try and deal with a pretty long list of unresolved issues and irritants in those relationships,” Hadley said.
There's not much more you can say about the Bush Administration's complete reconstruction of the status quo, except satire -- thank all gods the Bush Administration was so tough on the status quo with China, otherwise we might be facing 1,400 missiles across the Taiwan Strait.....

As for addressing the nation's traditional allies, the Japanese Institute of International Affairs wrote this week:
Many American experts argue that the Bush administration had many diplomatic successes in Asia, such as a stronger Japanese-U.S. alliance, a stronger partnership with China, and an improved strategic alignment, if not yet an alliance, with India. But many Japanese, including myself, are inclined to disagree.

...

Many Japanese also believe that the United States has become too dependent upon China's financial and trading power and thus has reduced its strategic options. With its huge dollar reserve, China now has the United States in a bind, as it now would have difficulty confronting China's military power, helping defend Taiwan, or imposing sanction on Beijing in response to its poor record on human rights and treatment of minorities. Japan, too, is in a similar situation, since China is the largest trading partner. Nonetheless, it would like Washington to have a wider array of strategic options for Japan's and its own security.
The US tilt toward China is placing Japan in a very awkward position. The Bush Administration worked assiduously to get Ma Ying-jeou elected, and the KMT is rewarding the administration by putting Taiwan directly into China's orbit, blowing a hole in 50 years of diplomatic effort.

Great work, guys.

Hadley's Remarks in Full from White House Press Release...(wait until blog loads COMPLETELY!)January 7, 2009

Remarks by National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley at the Center for Strategic and International Studies
CSIS
Washington, D.C.

White House News

----
We have built a stronger relationship with China based on cooperation where we agree and candor where we disagree. Tensions with -- over Taiwan have eased considerably. And we continue to press China on human rights and religious freedom.
-----

Q Sir, you mentioned U.S.-China relations. You touched upon cross-strait relationship, the reduction of tension. How -- could you elaborate a little bit more on the current state of U.S.-China relations, which seems to be one of the bright spots of President Bush's foreign policy successes, and also the current state of U.S.-Taiwan relations, which experienced some very hard times over the last eight years? Thank you very much.

MR. HADLEY: What President Bush has tried to do is have a course that basically respects, you know, the One China policy and all the rest, and the three communiqués which are the bulwark of our policy with respect to China, but also to make very clear that we -- that both sides, China and Taiwan, need to respect the status quo, and there needs to be no unilateral actions by either side. And that was very much his -- the framework of his policy with respect to China, and at the same time making very clear to China that we would carry out our obligations under the Taiwan Relations Act to make sure that Taiwan had the capacity to provide for its own defense.

And the President stood very firm with respect to those principles. And I think that helped get through a difficult patch in the relations between China and Taiwan, and have helped encourage what is really a very hopeful turn in relations between China and Taiwan.

But I want to make another point, which is that when China -- when President Bush approached Asia, he approached it not by starting first with our relations with China, but starting first with our relations with our traditional allies. And he took, as part of his -- a central feature of his Asia policy -- to strengthen those alliances and to try and deal with a pretty long list of unresolved issues and irritants in those relationships, dealing with our force presence, the location of our forces, and all the rest, and working with successive governments in Japan and South Korea.

We have really worked through that list over these last eight years. And I think those relationships are very strong. And that provides a platform for the United States in dealing with China, both the opportunities and challenges presented by China.

So I think it is also very important for the new administration to think in the same way about how they are going to approach the issue of Asia more generally, and to see our relations with China in that broader context.

Return to this article at:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2009/01/20090107-4.html


19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Really love your banner image. Something about the devastating contrast between the sea and the ragged mountains and the mist. Must be like Hualien or somewhere East Coast right?

Anonymous said...

It was very shameful how overtly the Bush administration campaigned for Ma. This gave Taiwanese the illusion that Ma would be benign, pragmatic and safe. The US support for Ma played on Taiwan's anxiety over its situation as Taiwanese never seem to feel Taiwan is "good enough" and often look for a ridiculous amount of affirmation from influencing countries. (China is not one of these influencing countries).

Thomas said...

When I read about Hadley, the first thing I thought was, "what a load of crap." The US is so beholden to China at the moment that it sickens me. And it also bothers me to no end the amount of lip service still being paid to a "status quo" that never existed in the first place.

What is Obama doing now? Spend, spend, spend, and get the Chinese to foot the bill. Basically, I don't buy (no pun intended) the benefits of economic spending sprees, especially when it is clear that the government doing the spending has no way to pay back the money in the future. I think these stimulus packages will do more harm than good in the long run, and one of the biggest casualties will be future US foreign policy flexibility.

When did US politicians all become so stupid?

Anonymous said...

Well. Actualy Bush messed whole situation in East Asia. Japanese and Koreans wanted to move into "Taiwan-Korea-Japan-Union" direction But Bush sraped this all for Chinese-USA Bussiness. time is gone, Taiwan got another chinese Ocupation, japanese strugle to save a day and Koreans are happy when chinese oligarchs and triads save their car-factories..

Thomas said...

The one redeeming factor for me is that the longer this mess goes on in the US, the more in the shitter the Chinese will be. You don't switch your economy from export manufacturing to consumption overnight or even in five years. If the US really IS headed south, the Chinese will have very little to celebrate for a long time. As for the Russians, they are f=ked as long as people keep reducing their oil expenditures. So many clouds need a silver lining or two...

Anonymous said...

Bush was basically ignorant of all things Taiwanese until his first outburst after taking office. Because of that, the State Dept. told him what policy was. It really wasn't his idea.

Bush had no foreign experience to start with and spent the rest of his White House years learning the hard way and killing millions of people in the process.

I doubt if Obama will be much different on Taiwan policy. Yet China is losing points big time with the mortgage crisis in the States.

Until people start buying homes again in the USA, it matters little what the Chinese do. Americans finance the global economy thru mortgage payments.

Marc said...

First, I think it's important to keep in mind that history shows that US maintains its interests partly through a foreign policy of destabilization of new democracies, not support.

Second, I remember hearing a former US policy adviser speak on Taiwan/China policy last year. He reported that Bush didn't really even have an Asia policy, wasn't really interested in Asia -- only Iraq. It was Cheney who was hot for Asia, coming into office with lots of Asia experience. Apparently, he wasn't able to interest the boss much on these important issues.

I think it's also important to keep in mind that the US probably sees China as the lesser of two evils -- the other being Russia. The US would like to keep China and Russia from cuddling up with each other, so the US may be willing to make concessions (or the appearance of them) to China to ensure this.

We all talk about how hamstrung the US appears to be because of China holding all those US t-bills, but I feel that's somewhat of a red herring, since both China and the US are handcuffed to each other economically for the time being and one can't really afford to antagonize the other (too much).

Michael Turton said...

Anon --

the header image was taken on the Suhua Hwy between Suao and Hualien.

Thanks! One of my favorite shots.

Michael

Tang said...

Clearly, a perception exists in Washington that an Obama Administration will be even more China-friendly than Bush's has been. That is disturbing news.

Anonymous said...

哎呦~~
老美現在是 泥菩薩過江自身難保了
只有白目的民禁黨和ABT還肖想老美會幫台灣獨立..

Red A said...

"the Bush Administration was so tough on the status quo with China, otherwise we might be facing 1,400 missiles across the Taiwan Strait."

This seems unfair. It would be very difficult for any US administration to persuade China to stop producing missiles and aiming them at Taiwan.

Also, the US has to balance many competing interests in Asia, and the net sum may not come out like we as individuals might prefer.

An obvious example would be the six party talks over North Korea where the US needs some Chinese support which probably could not co-exist with a strong Taiwan policy.

Now, you may think that Taiwan should come before North Korea, or whatever, and that's a valid opinion, but I think its also a valid opinion to not aggravate China about Taiwan in return for help on North Korea.

Personally, I think Taiwan can take care of itself. It has the money to buy or make its own armaments. Its people can vote in whoever they please into government, even parties that apparently want to unify with China.

In fact, its interesting to note that the US position seems to mirror Taiwanese public opinion: maintain the status quo.

BTW, what are poll numbers on arms sales? I bet they are low, and even lower now, and will stay that way.

Red A said...

Oh, and just to be fair, if Obama can get China to reduce the missiles pointed at Taiwan without Taiwan giving up anything, I will say he earns the title "Lightworker!"

Its just not going to happen.

Dixteel said...

"It would be very difficult for any US administration to persuade China to stop producing missiles and aiming them at Taiwan."

Indeed it's extremely difficult. In fact I would say it's impossible. But that's the point: stop telling Taiwan to keep the status quo because the status quo does not exist. (the amount of missiles don't remain constant).

If you think the US influence on Taiwanese public opinions is small then you are wrong. It's indeed foolish for Taiwanese to take foreign opinions so heavily, but it's a fact unfortunately.

Also this keeping "status quo" when translated into Chinese can often be mis-interpreted into wrong mentality. Let's compare Taiwan-China relationship as a tug of war. In tug of war, to keep the "status quo," both side has to pull hard. And if one side pull harder, the other side has to match in force. But for some reason, it seems to me that a lot of Taiwanese and some US officials seem to think that "status quo" means "don't pull." Ma relfects the pinacle of this idioticy.

It would be wise for the US officials to note that they have much more influence in Taiwan than in China. When they call for status quo, Taiwan public opinion might listen, but the Chinese government won't. They have to take this situation into account if they don't want to make the situation worse in my opinion.

Franck said...

Michael,
I don't know if it was on purpose or not, but I think that the picture illustrating your post about US and its Asia and Taiwan policy is very appropriate: an old man trying to ride his bike but obviously he may walk at any moment...and then give up his bike...until the the next time...
Beside, I don't think that M. Obama will be better for Taiwan than M. Bush (at least, he won't be worst - but that'll not be an accomplishment: impossible to be worst than Bush unless we consider that as an accomplishment).
Anyway, Taiwan will always be the old and rusty bike which can be used if no choice but never be considered as something important...
But why asking to US to consider Taiwan as important when Taiwanese themselves massively voted for "them"?
And I don't think so that there will be any other chances during the next elections...
By the way, thanks for the visit :-)

Anonymous said...

"哎呦~~
老美現在是 泥菩薩過江自身難保了
只有白目的民禁黨和ABT還肖想老美會幫台灣獨立.."


I don't know, China would've invaded long ago if they thought the US was weak enough. Even though the past 8 years has been disastrous for the US in many ways, militarily, the US is still light years ahead of everyone else. It's ridiculous, unnecessary, and doesn't protect the US from asymmetric warfare (Iraq, Afghanistan, terrorism). But China can't fight the US asymmetrically--if they wanted to fight, it would be with the full power of their military against the US's. That's a fight (for now) the US would still be much more likely to win.

Thomas said...

"This seems unfair. It would be very difficult for any US administration to persuade China to stop producing missiles and aiming them at Taiwan."

True. But it is also unfair for any US administration to make noise about Taiwan upsetting the status quo for having democratic referendums when China is upsetting the status quo in a much more provocative manner by adding missiles. This sort of behaviour on the part of US officials strengthens China's hand by painting Taiwanese as troublemakers when they simply push back against assaults by the PRC.

Anonymous said...

Dixteel,

The USA does not have very much sway over Taiwan's public opinion, otherwise Taiwan would have bought those arms long ago.

I think what influences Taiwan is that they think that the US has given them a blank check ala Austria-Hungary got from Germany pre-WW II. Sorry, but I think America is legally bound to defend Taiwan, R.O.C., but not the Republic of Taiwan. (Please feel free to show me I am wrong on this - I may be.)

In my mind, the status quo refers only to the political situation. If China adds 100 missiles that is not good for Taiwan militarily, but the political status quo is unchanged. If Taiwan buys submarines, the same thing happens in reverse - but there is no change in the political status quo.

I think the tug of war analogy is not a good one. It might have been when the ROC actually had diplomatic relations with large countries, etc., but that is long over. I don't think receiving some Pandas or flying directly to China matters at all and is not slowly inching Taiwan towards unification. Giving up the Taiwan pinyin to use Chinese pinyin also has no real effect. Is Britain more sovereign because it spells words like "colour" differently or because of its army, navy, air force, etc.?

The key is and will remain the Taiwanese populace and military's willingness to fight a Chinese invasion.

Red A

Dixteel said...

Hehe...sorry for the long reply...

"The USA does not have very much sway over Taiwan's public opinion, otherwise Taiwan would have bought those arms long ago."

hmm...I think you meant the arm precurment plans (8 diesal subs, 12 P-3C and PAC3 batteries). I am sure if you follow the news in Taiwan you will notice the KMT blocked those military bills in legislature for quite a very long time (and they are very proud of it by the way). They blocked it in the schedule committee, in another words, they don't even allow a full discussion of the package. They used various reasons or excuses change from time to time, some quite rediculous, some even a bit insulting to the US. Now you may say this shows how the US has little influence on Taiwan, but if you look into details you might come to different conclusion. The best weapons the KMT and pan blue media used against this precurment plans came from the USA. They picked up various sources and news coming from the US and add some spices. Some might even be fabricated but I didn't have time or resource to double check. For example, they will cite some sources saying the US navy doesn't want Taiwan to have submarines. They will cite another sources from the US saying PAC3 is expensive and useless...etc etc. Fabricated or not, it shows how much effort they try to use the US sources to create the image that even the US doesn't really think those arms purchase are required and the US just want to make some money, because they know, how much sources coming from the US can have influences on public opinion. Also, you have to note in this case the US is in indeed in a weaker position because they are the seller, but that doesn't mean they don't have big influence in other situations.

Another example, is the recent immidiate responses to the international critics, especially the US critics, from Ma and his official's. The most recent example is some article in Washington Post or something comparing Ma to Nixon, and Ma responds immidiately. It just shows how much KMT cares about the US (government or media) opinions, because they know those things have influence on Taiwan's public opinion.

"Sorry, I think America is legally bound to defend Taiwan, R.O.C., but not the Republic of Taiwan"

I don't think the US is legally bound to defend ROC or ROT. The Taiwan Relation Act doesn't specify clearly they have to defend neither. And there is nothing specifying the US to defend ROC. Plus, this legally bound thing can change any minute. Laws are made by men and can be changed by men. The question is...is it in the US interests to defend Taiwan.

"In my mind, the status quo refers only to the political situation"

You cannot seperate politics from economics and military. These 3 things are always connected. If the military situation tilted to the point that China can 95% successfully invade and hold Taiwan, don't you think the political situation will change? Not to mention psychological effects on the populations, which effects politics.

The tug of war analogies might not be perfect but I think it illustrate the basic situation. Even the army, navy and air force build up is a tug of war. China build up some forces and Taiwan has to couter it etc. Isn't that a tug of war? Don't forget Britain and the US are friendly, there is no tug of war there. While China always trying to find ways to annex Taiwan, and that's why there is tensions, pull and push effects.

"The key is and will remain the Taiwanese populace and military's willingness to fight a Chinese invasion."

That is very true. Like I said before the future prosperity of Taiwan depends a lot on the military also, even when some people don't seem to realize it. But you have to note what China is doing is not only building up forces, but destroying willingness to fight a Chinese invasion through various means. Including the use of pandas, tighter economic relations, and pinyin, which you consider unimportant. Maybe they aren't important, maybe they are. But pieces by pieces, small or large, China can destroy the will to fight if Taiwan doesn't remain vigilent.

Roy Berman said...

Red A, I'm not completely sure about that. Have a look at the actual text of the Taiwan Relations Act:
http://www.ait.org.tw/en/about_ait/tra/

The only time it mentions the Republic Of China is when it makes reference to Taiwan BEFORE the change of recognition of the PRC. All promises for the future are made in terms of "Taiwan". In fact, it even refers to "the governing authorities on Taiwan recognized as the Republic of China prior to January 1, 1979." implying quite clearly that there is no future obligation to continue to recognize Taiwan as the ROC into the future. Since promises of the Taiwan Relations Act are explicitly NOT made to "Republic of China" but to "the governing authorities on Taiwan."

This is made VERY clear in the definitions Section 15 Part 2
"the term "Taiwan" includes, as the context may require, the islands of Taiwan and the Pescadores, the people on those islands, corporations and other entities and associations created or organized under the laws applied on those islands, and the governing authorities on Taiwan recognized by the United States as the Republic of China prior to January 1, 1979, and any successor governing authorities (including political subdivisions, agencies, and instrumentalities thereof)."

If you read the TIA, it is obvious that it is written in such a way that it would apply with equal force even if Taiwan declared formal independence from China and renamed themselves "Republic of Taiwan" or whatever else they wanted to, as long as that body would be considered a political successor under the traditions of international law.