A couple of commentators are out in front advocating that US Taiwan policy needs to change. Denny Roy in The Diplomat observes that Taiwan: a status upgrade is now available:
Such an upgrade of U.S.-Taiwan relations is overdue. Now is a good time to implement it. Not only is the usual worry about hurting U.S.-China relations dormant, but additionally an improvement in U.S.-Taiwan relations, one of Beijing’s biggest fears, would signal to the Chinese government that outlaw behavior will not serve China’s interests.Roy noted that the Ma government has begun distancing itself from Beijing's policies in the South China Sea. This week Ma issued a clarification of the ROC's claims, wholly invented in the 20th century, to the South China Sea islands.
Mr Ma was clear that the claim was limited to islands and 3 to 12 nautical miles of their adjacent waters. There were, he said, “no other so-called claims to sea regions”.The claims are absurd to begin with, and this sort of backing down is very welcome. Meanwhile Gary Schmitt of AEI scribes in the Weekly Standard:
The reality is that Taiwan’s underlying skepticism about unification with China under any model has been readily apparent for anyone who took the time to keep track of what the Taiwanese people were saying as opposed to focusing on some imaginary diplomatic breakthrough that the acolytes of Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski were dreaming of, hoping for. Washington needs to come to terms with the point that democratic Taiwan is not headed toward some form of association with the PRC and should build policies that reflects that point.Both Schmitt and Roy contend it is time for a change. Always nice to see the pundits catch up with this blog....
Beijing's deployment of proxies/gangsters to smash the protesters in Hong Kong has hardened Taiwan's resolve to remain out of Beijing's clutches. In doing so, it has made obvious how obsolete the US policy urge to sell out Taiwan in order to please Beijing is now. Although those of us who watch Taiwan have always known that. You can look back into the polling as long as you want -- here is a 2000 poll in which over 70% reject one country, two systems even if Taiwan gets a better deal than Hong Kong....
Indeed, it also highlights a couple of other issues. When the Sunflowers occupied the Legislature, Ma could not send in the gangsters, even though they did show up and there were some isolated attacks on protesters. The reason was simple: his party has to win elections. But the Hong Kong government doesn't.
The strong negative response here in Taiwan also shows how empty the pro forma references to the "status quo" are. In the recent essay by your trusty writer and my man Brian B, The Coming Taiwan Independence Surge, we referred to this poll from the pro-China TV station TVBS last year, which said...
Asked about their position on cross-strait relations, 66 percent of respondents supported the “status quo,” 24 percent wanted independence and 7 percent supported unification with China, according to the survey conducted by cable news channel TVBS between Thursday last week and Monday.When they are not forced to make a choice, everyone makes the same choice: status quo. But when forced to make a choice, independence is strongly preferred. What this really means is that on that terrible day when Beijing nixes the possibility of the status quo, everyone is going to opt for independence.
However, the poll found that most respondents favored independence over unification if they were asked to choose between just those two options, with 71 percent supporting independence and only 18 percent supporting unification with China.
US policy really ought to reflect that fact.
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