Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Foreign Policy Talk-talk Rises With Xi in US

Driving out to work in the fields.

This year is the 29th anniversary of the founding of the DPP, and Presidential Candidate and Chairman Tsai Ing-wen made a speech in front of numerous foreign dignitaries. It's in Anglais here. All those dignitaries were a positive sign for Tsai: clearly they expect her to win. A few excerpts:
As we closely monitor international events, including the Syrian refugee crisis, we believe there is a clear need to establish a domestic legal mechanism that will enable Taiwan to join international efforts to assist refugees.

Furthermore, we plan to expand operations at our rescue training center in central Taiwan, where we will share Taiwan’s valuable experiences in responding to natural disasters at a regional level. We will also actively work to reduce tensions in regional flashpoints, such as the South China Sea, where confrontation is threatening to roll-back decades of peaceful relations in the region.

While being mindful of our strategic interests in the area, we are ready to engage in dialogue with different parties with the purpose of finding a diplomatic solution.


To achieve this, a future DPP administration will be committed to following both international law, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and respecting the freedom of navigation. We also see great potential for Taiwan to play a more valuable role globally.


Another one of our international priorities is to build up our relations with our neighbors in Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent. I am pleased to announce that a future DPP administration will pursue a ‘New Southbound Policy’ in the years ahead.
The New Southbound Policy is old DPP wine in new bottles; the DPP has long advocated southward investment. Hung Hsiu-chu, the KMT Presidential candidate, immediately complained that Tsai should be affirming ROC sovereignty over the South China Sea, a position that no doubt pleased her bitter-end nationalist supporter base, but which placed her far outside the mainstream. As usual...

Note that Tsai's comments on Freedom of Navigation -- a term she actually used, not implied, and one beloved of US policymakers -- align her squarely with the US. A southbound turn would be great -- the Ma Administration has done its best to ensure relations with SE Asia and India are not good, yet those are areas where Taiwan will be investing and conducting diplomacy in the future, natural allies against Chinese expansion. Good work, DPP -- I've said for years that Taiwan needs to deepen its relations with India. If China peeves India, a good move might be a state visit by Tsai to India.

Speaking of foreign policy, Peter Enav, once the chief reporter here for AP, now living retirement outside Taiwan, responded to Richard Bush III's blogpost at Brookings. Bush is a longtime Taiwan expert for the US government. Enav lambastes Bush's reticence and misconceptions:
Unfortunately, however, Bush’s article goes rapidly south from there — far south in fact — creating the impression that the “blame” for what might happen in cross-strait relations after Tsai’s election is a direct result of her personal shortcomings and those of the DPP in general. In the main he does this through the deliberate use of misleading and distorted language. Thus, for example, he says, Tsai has made only a “modest effort” to reassure China and the U.S. about her cross-strait policies when in fact she has gone out of her way to proclaim her fealty to maintaining the “status quo” in the area. Similarly, he says “the policies of a DPP government might cause a reversal in cross-strait relations,” rather than “the policies of the PRC [People’s Republic of China] might cause a reversal in cross-strait relations,” which given the fact that it is China that is making all the running on cross-strait pressure seems to be a far more accurate characterization of the facts on the ground.

And that is only the start. Also included in Bush’s article is his unfounded description of the Sunflower Movement as a radical fringe, when in fact it enjoyed widespread popular support and help set the stage for the devastating Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) defeat in last year’s nine-in-one local elections. Beyond that it also features his identification of the Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) candidacy as the main reason from Ma’s low approval rating (actually this began in 2012) and his signal failure to point out that support for Taiwan’s eventual unification with the mainland has traditionally been so low as to hardly bear mentioning. For someone of Bush’s deep-seated knowledge, this is a perplexing lapse.
Enav is right in many ways, and these are all things I've said. Yet...

One thing Bush didn't mention was the 1992 Consensus. This is interesting. Although Bush's essay is carefully positioned to align it self with the Establishment interpretive framework that the DPP disrupts China-Taiwan-Washington relations, he refrains from ordering the DPP into the 1992 Consensus cage. Kudos for that. Also, much of the essay is devoted to telling China what it should be doing, very gently. I'd like to read this as a hopeful sign that Washington is beginning to rethink the script on Taiwan...

Finally, William Stanton, former AIT director, has an outstanding piece at Thinking Taiwan on US China policy... read it all, but here's a chunk:
This strengthening Sino-Russian military cooperation is a deeply ironic refutation of the traditional U.S. geostrategic justification for improved Sino-U.S. relations. It is even more ironic when we consider that it was during the Administration of arguably America’s staunchest anti-Communist President — Ronald Reagan — that the United States decided on June 12, 1984 to allow China to make government-to-government purchases of U.S. military equipment, subsequently including avionics for the Chinese F-8 fighter jet and Sikorsky transport helicopters. In 1985 the United States even agreed to renovate Chinese ships to counter the growing Soviet fleet. In January 1989 the United States went further and decided to sell four of its then-most current anti-submarine torpedoes to China. It was only events in and around Tiananmen Square some five months later that halted all of these plans.
Yup. US China policy is heading in the wrong direction, and has been for years.

WantWant reports that Xi's policy towards the pre-1949 population is changing. Don't miss this article, which also has a good bit of interesting history. Years too late, and misled by the KMT, told nonsense by its own spies. and misled by Taiwanese businessmen in China -- probably on purpose to keep Xi on his current course, and to save their own skins -- China's Taiwan policy is seriously out of whack with the island's own popular identities.
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