This line of thinking was already nascent in the constant attacks on Chen Shui-bian by US officials for "provoking" China and threatening the Status Quo with his weird love of independence and democracy, silly man -- who would ever want those two things? Implicit in such criticisms was a view that the status quo meant positive relations -- movement toward annexation. Conversely, China's military build up was almost never portrayed as a violation of the Status Quo by US officials although it most certainly was. China's emergence as the future regional hegemon even as the Bush Administration ran the US into the ground has blown up the Status Quo. RIP, five decades of US policy.
Yesterday, AIT Chairman Raymond Burghardt confirmed that, indeed, the Process is the New Status Quo:
“There is not a view in Washington that there is some kind of red line in terms of cross-strait engagement. There is not a concern that moving beyond economic issues into the political and military realm is threatening to us,” Burghardt said. “We are comfortable with what’s happening and where it seems to be going.”What did Burghardt say?
What would make the US uncomfortable, he said, would be a breakdown in cross-strait negotiations and reaching an impasse that could lead to tensions re-emerging.
1. There is no "red line." If there is no red line, then there is no Status Quo. Period.That, in the proverbial nutshell, equals the Process is the New Status Quo. I couldn't have said it better myself.
2. The US likes the current direction (towards annexation).
3. The US does not like the other direction (away from annexation).
There was something else that struck me about the Burghardt remarks. Kyodo reported:
'The commitment to help Taiwan to acquire the equipment needed for its defense remains in effect,'' Burghardt said, referring to the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, which requires Washington to assist Taipei in maintaining its defense capabilities.Perhaps it is just talk, but it is would be interesting to see to what extent Japanese thinkers agree with Burghardt.
Closer cross-strait relations do not threaten U.S. interests in the strait, he said, dismissing as outmoded the notion of a U.S.-friendly Taiwan forming with Japan part of a defensive ring hemming in China's military.
''There is often an assumption of a geo-strategic character to American policy toward Taiwan, which isn't really there,'' Burghardt said. ''I have never heard in a policy discussion, I have never seen in a policy document on Taiwan, any of those great chestnuts of Asian geo-strategy: 'unsinkable aircraft carrier,' 'first island chain'...It just ain't there.''
Someone called and reminded me yesterday that Ma had asked that Beijing's Anti-Secession Law, a bit of propaganda aimed at Taiwan, be annulled. It's pretty much a win-win for Ma, since Beijing will never get rid of that law, and in the unlikely event that they do, he can take credit and display the move as evidence of China's goodwill. Similarly, the Ma Administration also asked the CCP to dismantle the missiles now aimed at Taiwan. China will never do that, since its hardline position has reaped big rewards. Additionally, military officials in Taiwan also appeared to demand confidence building measures (CBMs) with Beijing as a precondition for more progress toward annexation.
Sometimes I don't pay much attention to what is said, because so often, saying is meaningless static -- what counts is doing. When Speaker of the Legislature complained that the Legislature should be given oversight on the ECFA/CECA agreement, his words made headlines. Public opinion, as Echo pointed out the other day, is overwhelmingly behind him. Did anything actually happen? No, the process of moving closer to China has been handed off to unelected heavyweights, and the people's elected representatives have been carefully excluded from the process. Can you recall Wang leading KMT-controlled legislature in actually doing anything?
CBMs are not really between Taiwan and China, of course, but between the KMT and the CCP. There must be many KMT heavyweights who can hardly bring themselves to trust the CCP. Perhaps, at some point, the process will stall when the faction that wants to sell Taiwan to China as a bargaining chip for their dream of future position in China -- the real prize -- realizes it can't sell everyone else in the KMT on the idea of trusting the CCP to deliver on its promises, because the CCP cannot make any credible gestures of trust. One wonders what the US will say then. Will Ma become a "radical" who "provokes" China at that point? Will Washington push Taipei to get moving on annexation? Stay tuned for further installments of The Process is the New Status Quo.
[Taiwan] Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!