Prof. ST Hsieh
Director, US-China Energy Industry Forum
June 3, 2022
US-China relation is very complex indeed, a major challenge is cultural differences, specifically two nations use two completely different languages. While the “Three-Communiques” were inked 50 years ago some languages were intentionally vague such as “One China Principle vs One China Policy.” Fifty years later, the world has transformed, and geopolitics have evolved, for example the Ukraine war is entering 100th day with no end in sight.
China is now recognized by the US as the most serious threat and US policy is clearly a full-scale containment of China. Taiwan is an issue, the US has consistently declared that US maintains the one-China policy, US has never wavered from that position. US Administrations have been very precise that US-Taiwan relation is “unofficial.” It is true that US-Taiwan relation is guided by the Taiwan Relation Act (TRA,) which is merely a US domestic law passed by US congress. TRA is not a bilateral or international agreement, no other nation other than the USA recognizes TRA and abided by TRA.
The challenge to US administration then is how to deal with, or support, Taiwan: US is bound by the Three Communiques with China as well as TRA. Both US and China do not recognize “Taiwan as an independent nation,” what is Taiwan’s status?
China’s position is clear: Taiwan is part of China, but somehow through years of evolving US-China relation, US does not openly recognize that Taiwan is a part of China anymore. President Trump accepted a phone call from Ms. Tsai when he was elected, in addition US is selling billions of dollars of armament to Taiwan.
The mishap with State Department’s Fact Sheet on Taiwan, is an indication of how Taiwan issue is challenging US administration. Concern of military confrontations cross Taiwan strait is real, but no one should assume that China is destined to invade Taiwan unprovoked. China may be the greatest threat to US, but is China the greatest threat to Taiwan?
The Ukraine war is a good lesson for the world, preserving peace should be the top priority. The prospect of a two-front war is bone chilling.
US State Department struggles to get its fact sheet straight on Taiwan
Fri, June 3, 2022, 2:30 AM South China Morning Post
The US State Department has again updated its fact sheet on its relations with Taiwan, restoring a line to say it does not support independence for the self-ruled island, which Beijing regards as its territory.
The department changed its US relations with Taiwan fact sheet on May 5, deleting a declaration in place since 2018 that it “does not support Taiwan independence”.
But the line was reinstated in a new version dated May 28, in a change first reported by the Taiwanese Central News Agency on Friday.
“We oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo from either side; we do not support Taiwan independence; and we expect cross-strait differences to be resolved by peaceful means,” the latest version says.
The earlier update – which also removed a section recognising the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal government of China – triggered an angry response from Beijing, which regards the island as a breakaway province to be returned, by force if necessary.
The Chinese foreign ministry accused the US of using a “petty trick” with the amendment, to hollow out the one-China principle.
The fact sheet changes follow confusing signals from Washington regarding its policies towards Taiwan, after US President Joe Biden answered “yes” to the question of whether the US would back up the island militarily if it was attacked from the mainland.
His remarks sparked concerns last month over whether Washington is still following its long-standing policy of strategic ambiguity, which is deliberately unclear about US intentions in the event of a PLA attack on Taiwan.
Biden and other US officials later appeared to walk back the comment, saying US policy on Taiwan had not changed.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price said in May that the US does not support Taiwan independence and “we have repeatedly made this clear both in public and in private”.
Analysts said Beijing and Taipei should not read too much into Biden’s remarks. In their assessment, Washington does not want to see a cross-strait conflict.
Ties between Washington and Taipei have become closer in recent years – to the dismay of Beijing which fiercely opposes other countries forming official relations with the island.
On Wednesday, the US launched an economic cooperation initiative with Taipei, which Beijing denounced as a move that would endanger China-US relations.
US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin told Nikkei Asia in a written interview published on Wednesday that “the United States will make available to Taiwan defence articles and services necessary to enable it to maintain a sufficient self-defence capability commensurate with the Chinese threat“.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters on Thursday that Beijing had always firmly opposed US arms sales to Taiwan, “which seriously infringe on China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and seriously interfere in China’s internal affairs”.