Thursday, August 28, 2008

Biden: Not Good for Taiwan? -- UPDATED --

This got passed around the FAPA lists the other day. It is from a prominent Taiwanese-American commentator with many years of political experience in the US:


.....Joe Biden is not friendly towards Taiwan. There is a Chinese American by the name of Wu Sian-piau who has been active in Delaware politics. His wife has served as Biden's secretary for some 20 years in his Delaware office. Biden's pro-China views are presumably the result of his long association with the Wu's.

The Taiwanese American community in Delaware has tried for many years to talk to Biden about Taiwan, without success. Around 1999-2000 when FAPA and many others were pushing for the passage of the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act, Alice Yang finally secured an appointment to see Biden's foreign affairs aide Frank Jannuzi, through the help of then Delaware Governor Tom Carper (now Senator). So I joined a group of several Delaware Taiwanese Americans at the Senate Foreign Relations (FRC) office to talk to Jannuzi for about 75 minutes, trying to get Biden's support for TSEA. Finally Frank said I really sympathize with your view but there is just no way I can persuade my boss to support the Act. Biden was then the ranking Democratic member of the FRC.

I remember as we took our leave Frank shook my hand and said loudly "It is a pleasure to meet you, sir." I suppose he was surprised that a Taiwanese American could engage him in an in depth discussion of Taiwan's security issues.

Shortly after this visit to the Senate, I had an opportunity to engage Joe Biden himself in a mini-debate on TSEA. Again, Alice Yang invited Helen and I, together with Timmy and Sue Chiu to attend a breakfast meeting of a Wilmington chamber of commerce, where Biden was the main speaker. So during Q&A, I briefly described TSEA and asked Biden what his position was on the Act. But even before I finished talking, Biden turned away from me and asked the audience if China were to attack Taiwan, would anyone be willing to put his son or daughter in harm's way to defend Taiwan. His implication was clear: Taiwan was not important enough to risk the shedding of American blood.

After his long-winded screed, Biden finally turned back to me so I said, "Senator, you didn't let me finish my question." Then I explained that according to the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), it is the US objective to protect the human rights of the Taiwanese and any Chinese threat to Taiwan's security is a matter of grave concern to the US, which is obligated to sell defense arms to Taiwan.

Biden then changed his tune, went into his own elaboration of the TRA provisions and finally proclaimed he was a proud sponsor of the TRA. Afterward he was very friendly when I asked to have a picture taken with him. But it seems clear to me Biden's pro-China view is deeply rooted.

So Biden's selection as VP candidate does not augur well for Taiwan, especially if Obama gets elected. So prudence will require Taiwanese Americans to support McCain. Nevertheless, I believe FAPA should try to approach Obama's Asian experts and convey our view that the survival of democratic Taiwan is indispensable to the maintenance of the US-Japan military alliance and to the peace and stability of East Asia.


As Veep, Biden will be a statutory member of the National Security Council (NSC) and will have a strong influence over foreign policy and security policy. The remaining members of Obama's East Asian policy team are Establishment and/or pro-China (they have business interests there). Biden had possessed the inside track on the Sec. of State job.

However, another longtime Washington worker for Taiwan I have interacted with recently viewed Biden with equanimity, saying that Biden is a strong TRA supporter, knowledgeable, and mainstream. Obama, BTW, is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

UPDATE: A longtime Taiwan advocate on the Hill observed on an email list:

On Biden-specific issues: while he never stuck his neck out for Taiwan or was very friendly to Taiwan, he did stick closely to the TRA end emphasized that Taiwan should not be bullied by China. One of his aides told us a few months ago that the Chinese tried to get him to condemn the UN referendum of the DPP, but he decided against it and remained silent in spite of a lot of pressure – unlike the Bush Administration which lambasted the CSB Administration at every turn. His voting record is actually quite good: he voted in favor of most of the Taiwan-related resolutions in the past decade.


Anonymous said...

I think this needs repeating here (I left this comment in response to a passing reference Mr. Turton (can I call you "Michael"?) made earlier regarding Biden and Taiwan).

In 2001 Biden said, "that we support a one- China policy, but it rests upon a cross-strait dialogue where the countries, where the parties, mutually arrive at how unification will take place peacefully"

and later added

"You are no longer an independent country. You are no longer an independent nation-state. We've agreed that you are going to be part of China and that you will work it out under what conditions. So don't go declaring independence"

Haitien said...

Concerning, yes. But let's not forget that performance in office can differ significantly from what you might expect. Consider the following:

Nixon: Hardline anti-communist. Recognized the PRC and began the process of de-recognition of Taiwan.

Reagan: Denied F-16 sales, which was the main cause driving the Indigenous Defense Fighter (IDF) program as a (low powered) replacement.

Clinton: Often accused of being soft on China. Deployed USS Independence carrier battle group to the area in response to the '96 Chinese missile tests.

G.W. Bush: Came into office promising to do whatever it takes to defend Taiwan. I think we all know how that turned out.

I won't go as far to claim that an Obama administration will be any better or worse than the above examples. But I think it's important to keep in mind that oftentimes (especially in foreign policy), past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results. Talking about foreign policy as a senator is very different from talking about it when you're in the Oval Office.

Tommy said...

This post speaks for itself...

Pity Taiwan if O, a foreign-policy neophyte with the need to hear advice from advisors (such as his VP) is elected.

Michael Turton said...

That's a good point, Haitien. I think no matter who gets elected, we'll see very similar Taiwan/China policies -- pushing Taiwan gently into China's arms, sustaining "engagement" -- meaning US jobs and investment moving to China -- and ignoring Japan in the security equation.


skiingkow said...


Pity the WORLD if a 3rd Bush term becomes reality.

Anonymous said...

Whoa..."with the need to hear advice from advisers." That's chilling.

Is it so bad that Obama will be a President who doesn't "go with his gut?" Is asking questions to round out your understanding of matters and to see, god forbid, a different point of view a sign of weakness?

Dude, pity Taiwan if the US stays bogged down in oil wars on the other side of Asia and cannot spare the resources to come to her defense.

Anonymous said...

"So prudence will require Taiwanese Americans to support McCain."

I'll assume that he was just being less careful with his words, but I think it's worth pointing out that the importance of Taiwan does not take sole precedence over other myriad important issues just because I am a Taiwanese American. That is pork barrel politics and characterizes the choices individuals make as a matter of random circumstance instead of careful consideration.

Richard said...

Although its likely Biden won't be of that much influence on policy, and just as you stated, a continuation of current policy- his rhetoric mentioned above is quite scary. Especially when he interrupts the speaker and basically says no one gives a damn about Taiwan when it really comes down to it. Anyways, the KMT-Post had an editorial on him also.
Pretty much the same stuff said here minus his more aggressive anti-Taiwan remarks. Oh yeah, as always, sneaking in a pot-shot at CSB out of nowhere. :) (No, I'm not defending CSB's current money scandal issue).

Anonymous said...

i agree with Haitien


Russia has appealed to an Asian security alliance to support its actions in Georgia.

Anonymous said...

Just for kicks, I googled "kissinger biden". Here is blurb from a website comment:

I was at a small dinner for Henry Kissinger on Monday (he was just back from Beijing). Kissinger remarked, “I talk to Biden frequently. He is brilliant.” Kissinger also said that he thinks Obama will win, that he (Kissinger) is advising McCain, that Obama’s charisma will “last his three weeks” on the world stage, that there is a schism between the Chinese Army and the Party which Kissinger feels will cause instability in China, and that he is close friends with Obama’s foreign policy team.

oh brother.... Biden is also tied in heavily with bankers and credit card companies. Here is another interesting blurb:

Biden represents Delaware in the US Senate. Delaware is not a state, but a giant post box for Dupont, General Motors, and many of the giant corporations and Wall Street firms. The state politics of Delaware are dictated down to the most minute detail by the bankers and their corporate lackeys, since everything depends on keeping a pro-oligarchical political climate in the state. Biden personally is a tool of MBNA, a credit card issuer that was recently absorbed by the Bank of America, which presumably now also owns Biden. Biden got at least $215,000 from MBNA over the past decade. MBNA is notoriously one of the biggest predatory lenders and interest rate gougers in the entire usurious world of credit cards, and Biden's services to them are precisely in this area: Biden was a big supporter of the 2005 bankruptcy law which makes it much harder for working families to escape debt bondage and debt slavery ­ just what the looters at MBNA ordered.

His brother and both sons are also connected to the banksters which is the real threat to the world.

Out of all the smart people in the states, its a sad reality to see who really controls the game.

Tommy said...

"Is it so bad that Obama will be a President who doesn't "go with his gut?" Is asking questions to round out your understanding of matters and to see, god forbid, a different point of view a sign of weakness?"

It is when you don't understand enough about the situation in question that you must depend solely on advisors. Gut and feeling are part of what it takes to be a good executive. From all that I have heard about both O and B, one is blissfully ignorant of Taiwan (letters of congrats to Ma are hardly a sign of comprehension) and the other is pro-China. Go ahead and spout out the 3rd-Bush-term meme that is the least-common-denominator critique of McCain, but it says something that the general opinion forming in this thread is that Biden's history of panda licking is inconsequential because those in the White House sometimes don't behave as people expect. Guess what? They often DO act as you expect.

Anonymous said...

One of the ideas that is frequently trotted out about Obama is that he will somehow improve our relations with other countries by ending a perception of "American arrogance". So let me repeat and hightlight what Biden said to the people of a sovereign nation, "You are no longer an independent country. You are no longer an independent nation-state. We've agreed that you are going to be part of China and that you will work it out under what conditions." So now we're going to be unilaterally deciding that one nation-state must permanently surrender its sovereignty to another?'

Bush has a lot to learn in the arrogance department.

Anonymous said...

"Biden turned away from me and asked the audience if China were to attack Taiwan, would anyone be willing to put his son or daughter in harm's way to defend Taiwan"

That's a silly question. How many Americans would be willing to put his son or daughter in harm's way to defend Iraq? Probably not very many. But that has not stopped the US from taking military action there.

Americans, like people everywhere, are sheep and will go where their elites lead them. Herman Goering put it best at the Nuremberg trials:

"Why, of course, the people don't want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece. Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship."

So don't let any suggestion of a lack of popular American enthusiam for a war to achieve Taiwan independence get you down.

skiingkow said...


McCain has been in lock-step with this Bush administration on almost every issue -- especially foreign policy.

And there is every reason to believe that he will be even more of a war-monger (read, war-criminal) if he and the corporate media should blind-side the American electorate again.

And the fact that a lot of Americans will be voting with unverifiable paperless electronic voting machines moves that possibility towards probability.

But the fact that the democratic system in America is broken is another story for another post.

Anonymous said...

McCain won't be better for Taiwan independence than Obama.

McCain will likely maintain high levels of military activity in Iraq and will probably start a hot war with Iran and a cold war with Russia. This will require China to keep funding American deficit spending and provide diplomatic support in the UN, among other things. Therefore, it is highly unlikely McCain will do anything with respect to Taiwan that would jeapordize his central foreign policy goals.

Every four years we go through this exercise of trying to figure out who is better for Taiwan independence but US Taiwan policy has remained essentially the same since 1979.

Vote for who you think will be better for America, rather than who says the "right" words about Taiwan, because it is unlikely that American policy towards Taiwan will change regardless of who becomes president.

Richard said...

Oops, linked wrong one, should be this one:

Anonymous said...

I certainly have no love for Kissinger. But I do believe that the Old Fox would have handled the ROC/PROC issues much, much better than his successor Brzezinski, whose "Human-Rights-Diplomacy" boss was inexplicably left out of haitien's list.

I can't help but feel that this is deja vu all over again. 30 years ago, I was a college kid sitting in Taichung's USIS library, watching Carter's campaign commercial, getting all excited by the change in the air, while dreaming for democracy to finally descend on my beloved island.

It turned out that my naivte was nothing compared to Carter's.

Granted that things may change when these politicians are installed in the Oval Office, past records do matter. Subtle signs can often give off the wrong message. I have not doubt that the hawks in the Liberation Army would be enboldened should they perceive a lack of resolve in the White House.

And, alas, the ghost of Brzezinski is still hanging back there somewhere around the Obama camp!

Anonymous said...

McCain is a navy man, USN admirals for years have made contact with the Chinese PLA-N, sometimes building relationships beyond what the Pentagram envisioned. The current JCS (Mullen) is also an Admiral. The Navy will probably have more power if McCain wins. I'm not sure if this will help Taiwan in any way...

I dislike both candidates. Obama is a Brzezinski shill and McCain is well, McSame old shit and knows nothing about economics. Worst of all, both suck up to AIPAC along with Pelosi, Reid and Biden.

I think Biden is there just to make sure the slop is still in the trough for the pigmen on Wall St.

McCain just made an unusual choice for VP. My first thought is that somehow the ANWR oil drilling is involved. I haven't heard anything about her previously.80% approval rating in a state with only 670K people?) Perhaps McCain plans to be a one term prez to take the hit for the upcoming financial unwind then hand it off to her?

Anonymous said...

Originally I was ambivalent about whether to vote for McCain or Obama. However, given Biden's overwhelming outright support of the "One China policy," and that Obama probably will take foreign policy cues from Biden, as a Taiwanese American, I have no choice but to vote for McCain. McCain might be just as unfriendly as Bush toward Taiwan, but with Biden in power it would spell disaster for Taiwan, coupled with Ma's policy of disarmament and surrender.


In order to compensate for inexperience, Obama chose a Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman to be his VP candidate. Although Biden is seasoned, but an old politician, and has the 張伯-type倫folly. For example, in last Democratic Presidential Nomination Biden was the foreign relations consultant for John Kerry, but unbelievably on the Democratic Party platform, he wrote that the Taiwan problem should be resolved using the “One Country, Two Systems” format that Hong Kong used. Anyone with the slightest sense toward the Taiwan Strait Relations would not ever come up with this idea. So it can be seen how Biden is foolish to the point of stupidity. Moreover, for the purpose of effectively deterring Communist China invasion of Taiwan, the “Taiwan Relations Enhancement Act” was overwhelmingly passed by the House of Rep in 2000, but because of Biden’s forceful blockage of the Act being put to a vote in the Senate, the Act was prematurely aborted.

Basically the rest of the article talked about Biden’s proposal to initiate engagement with Iran in friendly ways, prompting the Iran religious leader to openly praise Biden, saying that Allah has blessed Iran by putting these thoughts into his head.



Unknown said...

Michael, as I wrote in my blog, Biden is right on Taiwan. You and I have argued on this issue before, and know that to me the most important thing is the maintenance of the world system, and that I view Taiwan as moving toward greated political and economic integration with mainland China.

Anonymous said...

Biden asked a precinct question: "...if China were to attack Taiwan, would anyone be willing to put his son or daughter in harm's way to defend Taiwan."

I wonder what the responses were from the audience.

Unless anyone still does not understand the underlying point: The FAPA is the most pro-Taiwan-independence group in US. If they are not willing to send their children in harms way for the sake of Taiwan independence, how can they justify sending anyone else's children into harms way for that cause.

Over all, I think the current US policy is the most balanced: No unilateral change of status quo.

Unlike the Chinese and Taiwanese, we are an ocean away and to us it is not an emotional issue, hence, are able to for a more rational policy.

Anonymous said...

Who is willing to send their children into harm's way for anything? That is the most ridiculous question in itself. It is beside the point. Do you want to send your children to Iraq to die?
If you support Taiwan as an independent country, you will not support the Obama/Biden ticket.

2001's comment from Biden is clear. What is a little blurry but in Obama-esque style is the most recent information.

"John McCain’s campaign sent reporters a statement today calling on President Bush to add additional items to its sale of military goods to Taiwan, and Barack Obama’s campaign sent out no such statement."