Thursday, February 22, 2007

Excellent Article by Tkacik in Weekly Standard

John Tkacik and Gary Schmitt write a great article on the name rectification and Taiwan's sovereignty in the Weekly Standard (hat tip to Gerrit van der Wees of FAPA), as well as the numbing shortsightedness of the State Department:
Since 1979, when the United States cut formal diplomatic ties with the "Republic of China"--that is, the government of Taiwan--it has banned official U.S. government use of the term "Republic of China." Yet, in the Alice-in-Wonderland logic of Foggy Bottom, the State Department criticizes the Republic of China for using the word "Taiwan," even while addressing its statement to the "Taiwan authorities." Meanwhile, out at Langley, the CIA lists "Taiwan" in its World Fact Book not under "China," nor alphabetically, but at the end, after Zimbabwe. And under "Name: conventional long form" it says "none," when in fact the "conventional long form" of the name of Taiwan's government is "The Republic of China." So, while the State Department complains about the decision in Taipei to drop "China" in exchange for "Taiwan," the CIA is desperately trying to avoid using the term "China" in reference to Taiwan.

Next they point out the obvious: that the State Department is feeding Beijing's hunger for Taiwan:

China insists that Taiwan keep the name "Republic of China" in order to legitimize implicitly its claim that Taiwan is part of "one China" and, hence, part of its sovereign territory. By going along with this, the United States actually fuels China's sense of entitlement--or, more accurately, its resentment over the fact that it doesn't rule Taiwan.

Then comes a review of what everyone understood Taiwan's situation to be after WWII: its sovereignty was unresolved, the US position into the 1970s (much to the chagrin of the Chiang regime):

But the United States has not recognized Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan since at least April 11, 1947, when then-Acting Secretary of State Dean Acheson, in a letter to Senator Joseph Ball, stated that "the transfer of sovereignty over Formosa to China [had] not yet been formalized." Taiwan, then called Formosa, had been a colony of the Japanese Empire from 1895 until the end of the Second World War, when Japan "renounced all right, title, and claim" to the island as a condition of Japan's surrender. When, in 1951, a formal peace treaty with Japan was concluded in San Francisco, China was not represented, because of a disagreement among the signatory powers as to which government actually represented it. The delegate of the United Kingdom stated for the record that the "treaty also provides for Japan to renounce its sovereignty over Formosa and the Pescadores Islands. The treaty itself does not determine the future of these islands," a position that all parties, except the Soviet Union, adopted. The Soviet delegate grumbled that "this draft grossly violates the indisputable rights of China to the return of integral parts of Chinese territory: Taiwan, the Pescadores, the Paracel and other islands."

After further review Schmitt and Tkacik note:

The State Department formally restated this position to the U.S. Senate in 1970: "As Taiwan and the Pescadores are not covered by any existing international disposition, sovereignty over the area is an unsettled question subject to future international resolution." And President Ronald Reagan, as part of his "six assurances" in 1982 to Taiwan president Chiang Ching-kuo, declared that "the United States has not changed its long-standing position on the matter of Taiwan's sovereignty." Every succeeding U.S. administration has reiterated its adherence to that assurance--though without spelling it out, which is probably why Foreign Service officers in the Department of State and staffers on the National Security Council have come to lose sight of this fundamental act.

It's important to understand this key fact: after WWII the sovereignty of Taiwan was generally understood to belong to no one, and this was the official US position for many years. That is why in the Shanghai Communique the US merely "acknowledges" the Chinese position.

They close with a sad anecdote:

At the press conference announcing the agreement, general manager Brian Cashman referred to Yankee pitcher Chien-Ming Wang, who last year tied for the most wins in the American league, as coming from "Chinese-Taipei." While doing so no doubt pleased his Chinese Communist hosts, it was undoubtedly an embarrassment for Wang, a national hero in Taiwan, to have his country tossed aside for the sake of the Yankees' commercial interests. Of course, the Yankees have not been the only ones to go down this road. And the real issue here is not whether the Yankees or Major League Baseball can sell a few more baseball caps and shirts in China. The real issue is that by playing this game we are not moderating Chinese ambitions toward Taiwan but fueling them.

Bingo. Every time the State Department kowtows to Beijing, it simply aggravates the situation. China has no right to own Taiwan, and it is high time the State Department internalized that fact.

Photos hosted at Flickr.


MJ Klein said...

Taiwan should write its own law, authorizing military force against any nation that tries to "determine" its "international disposition" through force or other means. that would flush some ducks from the bushes.

Anonymous said...

Winners write the history (and law). With the amount of ICBM China has, you know who will win or at least not lose in a conflict.

I wonder how many of those 900 missles pointed at Taiwan has neutron warhead.