Sunday, August 03, 2008

Preventive Defense Project Goes to Taiwan/China

Harvard's Preventive Defense Project led a delegation to Taiwan and China in June and July. The results are up on its website. They are a good guide to how the US Establishment reads Taiwan-China relations....

From June 22 to July 1, 2008, PDP Co-Directors William J. Perry and Ashton B. Carter led a bipartisan civilian/military delegation to Taipei and Beijing to discuss Cross-Strait issues, regional security concerns, and the U.S.-China strategic relationship. The meetings were planned in coordination with the National Committee for U.S.-China Relations, the Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the China Foundation for International and Strategic Studies (CFISS).

The timing of the 2008 visit was particularly fortuitous, as the PDP delegation visited Asia just as Taiwan and mainland China ended their first formal talks in nearly a decade. Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou took office on May 20, after campaigning on pledges to bolster Taiwan's economy through stronger trade and transit ties with mainland China. Taiwan and Beijing held their first direct bilateral discussions just days before the PDP delegation arrived, in which both sides agreed to take important steps to improve relations across the Strait.

All parties acknowledged an historic - but limited - window of opportunity to make meaningful progress toward a more peaceful, stable, and lasting arrangement between Taipei and Beijing.

In its meetings with officials in Taipei and Beijing, the U.S. delegation encouraged leaders on both sides to seize this opportunity for progress. While many challenges remain, the American delegation worked with its counterparts on both sides of the Strait to identify additional steps all parties might take to further improve regional stability.

The group met with Taiwan's top leaders, including President Ma Ying-jeou, Vice President Vincent Siew, National Security Council Secretary General Su Chi, Defense Minister Chen Chao-min, Foreign Minister Francisco Ou, Chairperson of the Mainland Affairs Council Lai Shin-yuan, KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung, and DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen. They also met with key Chinese officials at the Central Military Commission, including General Xu Caihou, Major General Chen Xiaogong, and Lieutenant General Ma Xiaotian, as well as President of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) Mr. Chen Yunlin, and Lt. General Liu Chengjun at the Academy of Military Science (AMS).

The full report is online here. The complete Taiwan list of people me includes...

Dr. Chang King-yuh, Chairman, Foundation on International and Cross-Strait Studies (FICS) Mr. Chen Chao-min Minister of National Defense, Mr. Hau Po-Tsan. Premier 1990-1993 and was Defense Minister from 1989-1990, Mr. Jason Hu, Mayor, Taichung City Dr. Jiang Bo-wei Associate Professor, Kinmen Research Group at the Institute of Technology, Dr. Lai Shin-yuan Chairperson, Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), Executive Yuan Mr. Lee Chu-feng Magistrate, Kinmen County Ms. Stacey C.H. Lin Officer, Department of North American Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Lt. General Lu Sheau Jung Commanding General, Kinmen Defense Command Dr. Ma Ying-jeou President of Taiwan Mr. Tom McGowan Past Chairman, American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei; Partner, Russin & Vecchi Mr. Francisco H.K. Ou Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Don Shapiro Director of Publications and Editor in Chief, Taiwan Business Topics Hon. Vincent S. Siew Vice President of Taiwan Dr. Su Chi Secretary-General, National Security Council Mr. Tsai Chiang-Hwa Deputy Director, Department of North American Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dr. Tsai Ing-wen Chairperson, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Ms. Tung Tai-Chin Chairperson, American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei; Country Head, Fidelity International Ms. Andrea Wu Executive Director, American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei Mr. Wu Poh-hsiung Chairman, Kuomintang (KMT) Dr. Stephen Young Director of the Taipei Office, American Institute in Taiwan.
....aside from DPP Chair Tsai Ing-wen, the delegation met with no one from Taiwan who supports independence and democracy for the island -- it even met with Hau Po-tsun, the reactionary right-winger who fought Lee Teng-hui's democratization program, and Jason Hu, the happy-go-lucky mayor of Taichung whom no one would confuse with a competent public official with a powerful influence on foreign affairs. The delegation's findings were naturally shaped by the fact that they didn't talk with any local on the Taiwan side who gives a shit about the future of Taiwan -- for example, the thought that China's increasing ascendancy over the KMT might be bad for the island's democratic future isn't expressed anywhere herein....nor does anyone wonder out loud what happens to US security if Taiwan falls into the PRC's orbit (never mind Japan's security. What's Japan?). The Project also didn't seem to notice that the KMT has very little leverage in the "negotiations" and that if they are to proceed rapidly, then it will have even less leverage. (note: all emphasis is mine).

  1. All of our government interlocutors in Taiwan, from the President on down, indicated they wished to move forward, step by step (from economic, to international space, on to security issues) to achieve long-term stabilization of the Taiwan Strait. This three-part partition of the prospects for progress – in increasing order of difficulty and complexity – was echoed on the mainland.[MT: the report uses euphemisms. By "stabilization" the Ma and Beijing governments mean "throttling of the island's independent existence" and "suppressing its democratic development."]
  2. In various ways and with various words, all our interlocutors indicated there currently is a window of opportunity in cross-Strait relations that has not existed since the 1990s and probably not since 1949.[MT: sadly, the opportunity has always been there but China's desire to annex the island prevented the establishment of peaceful relations. Of course that thought will not appear in an Establishment document like this, where the barrier to progress is the crazed Chen Shui-bian and his insane desire to live in an independent, democratic state.]
  3. Because of both foreseeable and unforeseeable events (such as either diminished support for the Ma government as it makes hard decisions, or as the world economy deteriorates), this window of opportunity probably will not remain open indefinitely. There is a need for all parties to move positively and as rapidly as conditions permit.[MT: Why is there a need for rapid movement? The window of opportunity will always exist -- all that has to happen is for China to grow up on the Taiwan issue. Yes, I know... fat chance.]
  4. Our delegation heard clearly in Taipei that sound ties with Washington are central to Taiwan being confident enough to proceed boldly with the mainland. All Taiwan Government interlocutors stated unequivocally that they wished to see U.S. weapons sales notifications go to the Congress. They argued that Taiwan needed to be a “hard ROC,” difficult for the PRC to coerce, in order for Taiwan to move forward with the mainland from a position of confidence and strength.
  5. Both sides see the first basket – economic issues – as being the most straightforward. First there will be direct cross-Strait passenger (“charter”) flights (still going through Hong Kong airspace), then cargo, then sea lanes, etc. Restrictions on Taiwan investment on the mainland and PRC investment on Taiwan will also be eased over time. PRC tourism to Taiwan is growing rapidly.[MT: PRC tourism to Taiwan hasn't budged. Hopefully that's a temporary thing. Note that the DPP bundled cargo links, while the KMT has removed them -- as a commentator noted in the Taipei Times last week, the KMT removed them at Beijing's demand. The KMT has no leverage in these negotiations, especially if things are to proceed rapidly, a point missed by the fact-finding delegation.]
  6. In Taiwan, there was the expectation that economic relations would make rapid progress and that the next set of issues – political issues, especially “international space” for Taiwan – would constitute a litmus test for PRC sincerity. [MT: Note that after the CCP screwed Taiwan on the Olympic name affair, Ma hailed its goodwill. What does that tell you about the need for Beijing's sincerity?], The Ma government states quite clearly that it understands that its participation in international organizations must be functional and not of a character that connotes statehood. Taiwan is prepared to adopt different names in different organizations. We received the impression on the mainland that progress on the World Health Assembly (WHA) is likely. [MT: You know what will happen. In the end, this will not be permitted.] All the Taiwan leaders also called for a “diplomatic cease-fire,” whereby Taiwan would retain the 23 countries that currently recognize it, the mainland would retain the 171 that currently recognize it, and neither side would contest recognition of the other. Taiwan stresses that by agreeing to such a cease-fire, the mainland will positively affect Taiwan popular attitudes. But officials on the mainland were non-committal on this issue.[MT: See? China will betray the Establishments in both the US and Taiwan.]
  7. Ma Ying-jeou won the March election with 58 percent of the vote,1 but he is most worried about the 42 percent of voters who opposed him. His strategy for the future is to build a light blue/light green coalition (the middle of the Taiwan political spectrum). Therefore, he needs quick victories to consolidate his support in the center. It is in this context that responsiveness on issues like WHA from the mainland is key. If Ma loses the center of the Taiwan polity, the “window of opportunity” closes. PRC officials voice a concern that is also related to politics on Taiwan: what if the mainland gives ground on international space now, only to find that the Kuomintang (KMT) loses to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in a few years and the gains are exploited for the purpose of pursuing independence? [MT: Doesn't your heart bleed for the poor PRC expansionists who might get cheated of an island China has never owned?]
  8. Currently, Taiwan sees no reduction in the actual level of threat represented by the PRC military force posture in the Taiwan Strait area as a result of the KMT victory. However, President Ma was favorably “surprised” by President Hu Jintao’s initiative on a “peace agreement” in October 2007. Taiwan affirmatively wants the U.S. to move forward on arms sales, as noted above. Chinese officials continue to suggest that the PLA’s intermediate range missile deployments facing Taiwan are on the table in some unspecified manner for a deal involving the U.S., as stated by Jiang Zemin to President Bush in 2002 (though it must be borne in mind that Chinese missile deployments are significantly larger now than they were in 2002).
  9. In Taiwan, we authoritatively heard that Taiwan wishes to proceed in establishing “representative offices” of some sort (preferably Straits Exchange Foundation and ARATS) but there was understanding this might take some time. There was some confusion in last spring’s visit of Wu Poh-hsiung on this issue.
  10. On the mainland in our meetings with Chen Yunlin (chairman of ARATS) and Xu Caihou (Deputy Chair of the Central Military Commission), we heard understanding of the situation, moderation, an expression of intention to meaningfully respond, a sense that things would move rapidly on the economic front, and that progress would be more measured on the international space and security fronts. We were given to expect positive movement in the WHA in the not too distant future. Reading between the lines, these senior officials are still trying to interpret the wishes of Hu Jintao, who has made a number of forward-leaning statements on cross-Strait issues since Ma’s election. We heard a bit of anxiety from the PLA that the “1992 Consensus”, to the degree it emphasizes “respective interpretations” could become a slippery slope heading toward “two Chinas.”
Enjoy. Reading the findings, I'm cautiously optimistic that at some point Beijing is going to screw this up mightily. And observe that there was no mention of "democracy" either as a thing worth preserving in Taiwan, or as a political evolution that might occur in the PRC. There is no pretense that "Taiwan is going to change China" in documents like this.


Anonymous said...

nor does anyone wonder out loud what happens to US security if Taiwan falls into the PRC's orbit (never mind Japan's security. What's Japan?).--

well. i belive they think that Taiwan will be nice troyan horse wich wil bring "democracy" into mainland. so forget about own indepence, taiwanese self-identification and natives. forget about Union with Japan and South-Korea.

again.. there are Wolfowitz and Kissinger. its like Iraq and Vietnam wars together.. what does Taiwan need more? Charly Wilson ..

Anonymous said...

Taiwan's Ma to renew truce with China

"Taiwan and China are still technically at war and Kinmen is a constant reminder of the hostility." actualy only KMT and China are in a war. Taiwan is just a battleground..
China defense minister

I quest myself what will became when Taiwanese Natives start to send illigal chinese immgrants back to home and ask why is a chinese party (KMT) trying to "unite" them with China when they are not chiense but former japanese island? wich btw got indepence for Japan already.