Just skim it; it's largely a waste of time. Instead pick up J Michael Cole's excellent rebuke of Clifton's commentary at The Diplomat:
Those are perfectly legitimate questions, and we’re all for transparency in the funding of research institutions — especially when it comes from abroad. The problem is that the article’s claims are based on two assumptions that belie a poor understanding of the think tank world and, more importantly, the maddeningly complex workings of U.S.-Taiwan relations.Of course China is omitted, that practically goes without saying. Argh. The idea that TECRO wants arms sales is part of the Cold War view that lefties still use to assess East Asia, also present in Lee Fang's piece from last year which makes exactly the errors that Clifton does. In this upside-down view of the universe, F-16 sales to Taiwan "militarize" the conflict between China and Taiwan, while apparently there is nothing China can ever do to militarize the conflict....
On the first issue: U.S. think tanks receive funding from a plethora of governments, institutions, foundations, universities, and individuals. Some of those donors, for various reasons, choose to remain anonymous. For example, the Brookings Institution’s 2012 annual report shows one anonymous donor in the $1,000,000-$2,499,999 category, and three in the $500,000-999,999 range — the same bracket as the “problematic” TECRO identified in the article. That same year, TECRO’s donated between US$250,000-US$499,999 to Brookings, which is hardly a strident advocate of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan. Like a lot of other foreign entities, the Taiwanese government funds a number of other think tanks in the U.S. There is nothing unusual, or even illegal, in this.
Moreover, while the article focuses on TECRO’s financial contributions to AEI, it makes absolutely no mention of the much more substantial — and oftentimes less transparent — donations to U.S. think tanks and academic institutions by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) government, wealthy Chinese individuals, or corporations with strong business interests in China (to that we can also add the co-optation of retired U.S. generals and government officials via highly lucrative corporate positions). Nor is it said that through those institutions, the PRC is attempting to sever U.S.-Taiwan ties, end U.S. arms sales to the island, and encourage the perception that the “re-unification” of Taiwan and China is inevitable, by force if necessary, even if this goes against the wishes of Taiwan’s 23 million people.
In short, by being so selective, the article completely omits the tremendous influence that the much stronger party in the dispute, China, has on U.S. policy on Taiwan.
The second major problem with the article is that it assumes that TECRO was using its (presumably un-kosher) influence on AEI to push for arms sales — especially 66 F-16C/Ds — at a time when, as anyone who follows U.S.-Taiwan relations closely would know, Taipei was dragging its feet on arms sales and, later on, seemed to be doing everything in its power to kill the F-16 program. In other words, rather than dictate to the researchers at AEI, Taiwan was funding analysts that were growing increasingly critical of and impatient with Taipei’s passive attitude to arms procurement — the exact opposite of what the article claims.
Walter Lohman observed that Brookings, also a recipient of TECRO funding, hosted DPP Chairman and likely presidential candidate Su Tseng-chang at a reception a couple of weeks ago, which is certainly not something the KMT-run government wants to see, yet TECRO gives money to Brookings. Some friends of mine who were there told me Su was warmly received... good!
The other reason this article peeved me, in addition to its by-now bog-standard Leftish ignorance of Taiwan, is that all the stuff that Cole writes about is available on this and other political blogs, including Cole's own, as well as in the local media. Clifton didn't have to do much, just send around emails to us and we'd have been happy to explain everything to him. *sigh* Why ever do they think we blog?
Great work, J. Michael.
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