Monday, October 13, 2008

CSIS, Carnegie Endowment: Taiwan should offer itself on platter to China

It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John. On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased."

Wow. Taiwan hosted a forum on Ma's foreign policies to which it invited speakers who seem to be wildly Beijing-centric in their thinking. The redoubtable Jenny Hsu of the Taipei Times reports:
The "diplomatic truce" strategy proposed by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is "constructive" and long overdue but Beijing must reciprocate fast before the small window of opportunity closes on improved cross-strait relations, a panel of academics said yesterday, touting Taiwan’s democracy as its most effective leverage over China.
Reality check: there has been a steady flow of news articles and commentaries in recent weeks pointing out that Beijing hasn't given Taiwan any international space. For example, just last month the American Enterprise Institute, very pro-Taiwan, pointed this out:
Ma's recent failure to secure Taiwan's participation in sixteen of the United Nations' specialized agencies indicates that his overtures to China have been unsuccessful. Bolton argued that in order to "have an obvious, profound impact on Taiwan's space in the world," Taiwan should focus its diplomatic efforts on securing "unambiguous support from the United States." He believes it to be "in the interest of the United States to extend full diplomatic recognition to Taiwan."

In addition to "continuing to pressure China," Randall Schriver of Armitage International argued that the United States should "build an international coalition . . . to start to reframe the debate for China," in order to show China that "it is pragmatic and in their interests to start to help Taiwan increase its international space." While advocating greater U.S. support for Taiwan, Bolton and Schriver both recognized that such support is unlikely in the near term.
Bonnie Glaser, one of the participants, had even recognized the possibility of failure in Ma's policy and the reality of PRC policy earlier this month...
At a conference on cross-strait confidence-building measures at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington Sept. 16, cross-strait relations expert Bonnie Glaser expressed concern that the gap between Taiwan's need for international space and what mainland China is willing to concede might setback relations. Urging the mainland to do more in the interest of the people of Taiwan, she voiced hope that Taipei and Beijing might find a way to resolve the issue of Taiwan's international space.
But Paal et al weren't really there to represent a reality-based position or recognize the failure of Ma's policy to do anything for Taiwan. They were there to inform everyone that the US political establishment had examined its boy, Ma, And Were Well-Pleased.
Ma’s approach to China, often lambasted by the green camp as denigrating Taiwan’s sovereignty, was highly praised by the panelists, describing the tactic as “strategic, smart and appropriate,” which not only promotes the pressing interests of Taiwan such as augmentation of international space, but also serves the interests of the US and China.

“There is a consensus of support [in Washington] of what Ma is doing,” said Derek Mitchell, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), adding that Taiwan lost the political tug-of-war against China 30 years ago when Washington and Tokyo cut relations with Taipei.
I think there are two things to take from this: (1), the political establishment has a consensus on the Taiwan issue: they want Taiwan to disappear into China (repeat mantra: "economic integration will lead to political integration") and (2) they are well aware of what Ma is doing. The irony of this crowd identifying democracy as a key Taiwan leverage over China, even as the Ma government takes action against state media organs, is painful.

Hence, the appearance of former AIT head and former JP Morgan Vice President Douglas Paal, widely known for his anti-Taiwan views, is yet another signal that what US foreign policy establishment wants is for Taiwan to stop struggling and lie still. Indeed, further down Paal warns those of us who love this island and want to keep it free and democratic that we should think about what we're doing. Paal is palpably anti-Green. What a shame he was appointed to head up AIT during the crucial first Administration of Chen Shui-bian. And what a shame that Taiwan's main support in Washington comes from the Right, a group likely to have little influence on policy if Obama is elected. Once again I must lament the lack of progressive identification with Taiwan....
So far China has not made any significant moves to indicate whether it would accept Ma’s invitation to enter into a truce, but the fact that Ascuncion had not switched sides as its president had threatened to do during his campaign was evident that China had agreed "tacitly," said Douglas Paal, vice president of the Carnegie Endowment Foundation.
Note the concession to reality here -- oh yeah, China hasn't agreed to anything, nor has it provided tangible positive responses. The best he can do is point to the fact that Paraguay is still an "ally," though he leaves out Taiwan's alleged $71 million aid package to Asuncion. Paal then goes on to slam the Greens:
Paal, also a former American Institute in Taiwan director, supports the possible controversial visit of Beijing’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) to Taiwan later this month or early next month, and said the visit should not be postponed as many pro-Taiwan academics have suggested.

“It has already been postponed for 60 years,” he said.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) supporters who plan to protest against Chen’s visit, he said, should ponder how the Chinese would view such a protest.

Such a display could be seen as merely a rally for more pro-green support in Taiwan.

What DPP supporters should think about, Paal said, is what is best for Taiwan’s national interests.
Its venomous anti-Taiwan view aside, Paal's position is remarkable for its frankness on how the US political establishment views China: people who wish to be openly critical should see what China thinks first. It is easy to see how China has acquired such a moral ascendancy over US policy thinking. It's also instructive to compare how the Nobel Peace people view "peace" -- whatever you may say about them, the Nobel crowd recognizes dissent and democratic activism as peacemaking. From the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, however, the Island of Dissenters gets the surly, unseemly, message that they should shut up.

We next find out that they refused to give answers on the problem of the China threat....
The panelists, however, all evaded the question on whether there were any drawbacks or danger to Taiwan’s democracy in Ma’s “diplomatic truce” when the question was raised by Taipei Times.
....because nothing makes 1,300 missiles disappear faster than a desire for "peace".....
Paal also chalked up the recent China-originated toxic milk powder as “growing pains” that many developed nations, such as the US, have had to experience, citing the corrupt US meat industry in the late 19th century.
Corruption is not "growing pains" but a business strategy. What does integration with China produce? Businessweek recently reported on the increasing presence of fake microchips, routers, and other bogus electronic equipment from China in US weapons, the latest in a long string of fake parts and poisoned food to come out of China. This isn't the result of growth, but of longtime practices that won't change until sustained pressure is put on China. Doesn't seem much chance of that, given the current US weakness in virtually every area of its national life.

The forum closed with a discussion of economic relations between China and Taiwan. Hope the next forum organized on this topic offers a more balanced view of Taiwan-China relations than this Beijing-centered train wreck.


Anonymous said...

It is no secret that Paal hates the idea of an independent Taiwan and went out of his way to sew discord between Taipei and Washington during the Chen administration.

Dixteel said...

Hmm...they seem to be influential figures in the US but I hope they don't represent the popular opinion in the US.

Yea, one is free to express his/her opinion...but when they talk about things this way it sounds almost like they are discussing how to convince a group of people to lay down their weapon and be sold as slaves and prostitutes...well, maybe not that bad, but it definitely doesn't sound right in my ears.

I can't say what's the best road for Taiwan and the US to take...but I am convinced that what Ma is doing could be a disaster for Taiwan. And seriously...I can't see the US benefiting from Ma's those people have heavy interests in China or am I missing something?

Anonymous said...

"...what US foreign policy establishment wants is for Taiwan to stop struggling and lie still."

Very well put.

J. Michael Cole 寇謐將 said...

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP) opened a center in Beijing in September 2004. As it wrote in its vision statement, CEIP enjoys "an unparalleled set of partnerships with seven leading Chinese institutions..."

One can imagine that (a) permission to keep the center in Beijing must be contingent on self-censorship on the CEIP's part and (b) the relationships with the seven "leading" institutions must have ramifications for the institution's views on Taiwan and China's role in the world.

The CEIP's strategy of having centers in various parts of the world (it has others in Moscow, Beirut and Brussels) is not a bad idea, but when an otherwise liberal organization chooses to deal with undemocratic regimes such as Beijing, it is bound to tie their hands - in other words, as I am a sure happened in the case of the Beijing center, concessions had to be made. And those concessions could very well come in the form of individuals like Mr. Paal arguing in favor of Taiwanese capitulation.

Anonymous said...

1. I'd question the validity of Derek Mitchell's comment about a "consensus" in Wash DC regarding Ma's cross-Strait policies. Such an assertion assumes that policymakers in the Bush administration, at least above the office director level, even think about Taiwan. Main reason the notifications went through is because Congress was causing trouble (with no trace of Ma administration-sponsored lobbying, BTW).

2. Strategists who advise senior policymakers often demonstrate a fatalistic attitude - certainly not supporting Ma's policies and not necessarily active in opposition. Just in effect saying that Taiwan's days as a defacto independent entity are numbered.

3. Interesting that Taiwan-hosted conferences rarely encourage a diversity of views when they invite U.S.-based observers. Would be great to see a conference that had a better mix of people.