U.S. ROADBLOCKS TO THE UNIFICATION OF TAIWAN

Paper Presented at the Global Summit for China's Peaceful Reunification
November 18, 2007 in Washington, D.C.
Tze-chung Li
Professor and Dean Emeritus, Dominican University &
President, One China Committee

Taiwan is an integral part of China. Taiwan and China separated as a result of civil war in 1949, and since then have been governed separately. They are two political entities in China, but not two Chinas.

Unification of Taiwan is a domestic issue and should be decided by Taiwan and China themselves. Since the United States is involved, unification becomes complicated and extremely difficult to achieve. Four positions taken in the United States on the unification issue may be mentioned.

1.The official position.

The United States official position is constructively ambiguity. It is constructive that the United States abides by the three Communiques and supports one China and Taiwan a part of China. It is ambiguous in that the United States continues sale of military equipment to Taiwan to make Taiwan capable of defending against China's attack, insists to maintain the ill-defined status quo to exercise restraints on both Taiwan and China to avoid war, and makes it uncertain for military involvement in defending Taiwan. Though clarity of ambiguity had been made in favor of China or Taiwan in the past from President Clinton's three nos 1 to President Bush's explicit statement of defending Taiwan, 2 the U.S. strategy remains ambiguous. The ambiguous strategy is considered safer, smarter, as well as more realistic. It allows the United States if, when, and how might protect Taiwan.3 Having said that, China may also take the position of constructive ambiguity by dropping "peaceful" in her unification process.� Deletion of "peaceful" will also comply with the provisions of the Anti-Secession Law.

The United States opposes any move contrary to the status quo. Deputy Secretary of State Robert B. Zoellick has summarized the U.S. position on Taiwan in six points. The United States should (1) maintain "one China policy"; (2) abide by three Communiqués and Taiwan Relations Act; (3) assist Taiwan's accession to APEC and WTO as an economy; (4) make defensive articles available to Taiwan; (5) insist no unilateral change in the status quo by either side of the Taiwan Strait; and (6) support direct dialogue, including with elected leaders of Taiwan. 5 In responding to Rep. Diane Watson's complaints about how Taiwan's president was treated during his visit to Latin America, he said "we want to be supportive of Taiwan, while we're not encouraging those that try to move toward independence. Because let me be very clear: independence means war." 6

The United States clearly rejects independence for Taiwan and even change of the name of Taiwan.7 Deputy Secretary Richard L. Armitage considers that the Taiwan Relations Act requires the United States to keep sufficient force in the Pacific to be able to deter attack, but the United States has no obligation to defend Taiwan.8 On the Taiwan government's attempt to change their official name of ROC to Taiwan, Adam Ereli, State Department Deputy Spokesman said: "there are reports of a number of sort of impending name changes. . . frankly, we're not supportive of them. As you know, the United States has an interest in maintaining stability in the Taiwan Strait. That's what we want to see, and we are therefore opposed to any unilateral steps that would change the status quo."9

After the Hu-Bush meeting April 20, 2006, President Bush remarked at the Oval Office regarding Taiwan: "We spent time talking about Taiwan, and I assured the President my position has not changed. I do not support independence for Taiwan."10

Deputy Secretary John D. Negroponte in his speech at the National Committee of U.S.-China Relations dinner October 24, reiterated U.S. policy on Taiwan, saying "the policy of the United States on crossStrait relations is firmly rooted in the Three Joint Communiques and the Taiwan Relations Act. Our policy has been durable and consistent over the course of more than three decades and seven administrations. It will not change now." 11 �But, he is concerned about the growing arsenal of missiles and other Chinese military systems arrayed against Taiwan and Beijing's refusal to renounce the use of force against Taiwan. 12

2. The position to defend Taiwan.

Others hold the view that the United States must defend Taiwan because American interest is at stake. As pointed out in the Annual Report by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission to Congress, China's economic integration with its neighbors in East Asia raises the prospects of an Asian economic area dominated or significantly influenced by China. The U.S. has an interest in China's integration in Asia if it gives all parties a stake in avoiding hostilities. Nonetheless, U.S. influence in the area could wane to a degree.13 To defend Taiwan, the Commission recommends that the Department of Defense continues its substantive military dialogue with Taiwan and conducts exchanges on issues ranging from threat analysis, doctrine, and force planning. 14

In contrast to Armitage's position noted above, former Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asia and Pacific Affairs Randall G. Schriver who claims himself as pro-Taiwan, but not anti-China says: "[t]he Taiwan Relations Act not only talks about providing weapons for sufficient self-defense. . . we have an obligation to maintain the capacity to resist force if asked to do so. . . That's not a defense treaty, but there are some very important obligations there."15 Schriver also suggested revision of� President Reagon's Six Assurances, replacing the phrase [Taiwan sovereignty was one to be decided peacefully] "by the Chinese themselves" to "the sovereignty of Taiwan are for the people of the PRC and the people of Taiwan to decide peacefully themselves."16

According to U.S.-Taiwan defense doctrine, the Taiwanese military would have to fight an invasion alone for at least four days until American naval forces arrive. But China could also go with a so-called decapitation strategy -- coordinated commando attacks and pinpoint bombing of the island's leaders and key institutions to paralyze the island before American reinforcements can arrive. 17

The United States is concerned with the loss of influence in the Far East, if Taiwan is unified with China.� An Independent Task Force on U.S.-China Relations, established by the Council on Foreign Relations, reports that one drive for Chinese military modernization is to have the ability to fight and win a war in Taiwan in the absence of U.S. intervention and recommends that the U.S. make its stance on Taiwan more explicit, that is United States does not rule out using force to deter Chinese attempt to compel unification through force. 18

A RAND report points out that the most likely conflict between the United States and China would be over Taiwan. 19 China could potentially defeat the United States in a future military conflict over Taiwan by using "antiaccess" strategies designed to limit U.S. military access to the combat zone.� The net result of these strategies is that China could actually defeat the United States in a conflict -- not in the traditional sense of destroying the U.S. military, but in the sense of China accomplishing its military and political objectives while preventing America from achieving some or all of its objectives.20 Another RAND report outlines three key security challenges to the United States, its interests, and its allies: terrorist and insurgent groups; regional powers with nuclear weapons; and increasing security competition in Asia, which could result in a military confrontation with China over Taiwan. RAND suggests measures to overcome modern anti-access weapons and methods, particularly theater ballistic missiles and cruise missiles.21

Jed Babbin and Edward Timperlake consider China's military growth poses a threat to American security. 22 There is possible certainty of war with China. With respect to Taiwan, they state: "President Bush and his successors must take a 'tough force' approach with the Taiwanese. If the Taiwanese are unwilling to spend the necessary money to defend themselves they should be told in unmistakable terms that we will not spend blood and treasure in their defense. The Taiwanese need a big dose of reality."23

The Hudson Institute reports China's rising high technology and military power pose a challenge to the United States. In China-Taiwan conflict, China may� (1) seize the initiative early by forcing an adversary to react to China's move; (2) pursue limited strategic aims, by winning and securing Taiwan with a fait accompli to avoid harming any of the United States main interest; (3) strike five "key points", namely command systems, information system, weapon systems, logistics systems, and the linkage among these; and (4) avoid direct confrontation, by defeating a handful of critical defenses; and (5) utilize high technology war and prepare against the military intervention. It is a seven-day war (blitzkrieg operation) to occupy Taiwan. The U.S. must be prepared to fight the twenty-first century version of war. 24

At his confirmation hearing before the Senate armed services committee March 8. U.S. Navy Adm. Timothy Keating warned that as China increases its military spending, the United States needs to keep a watchful eye over Taiwan. The admiral emphasized that the United States should be prepared to step in to protect Taiwan should the need occur, even though some members of Congress have warned that Taiwan has sometimes gone out of its way to provoke a hostile confrontation with China in an attempt to declare independence from the Communist state. 25Adm. Keating also said April 15 in Guam that tensions over Taiwan are a factor in the military buildup of Guam but the U.S. was working with China and Taiwan to avert any conflict over the island.26

In a report to Congress on China's military� power, the Department of Defense points out China is now building capacity for conventional precision strike. Beijing has strengthened position relative to Taipei by increasing the mainland's economic leverage over Taiwan, fostering Taiwan's diplomatic isolation, and shifting the cross-Strait military balance in the mainland's favor. But the U.S. Department of Defense, through the transformation of U.S. Armed Forces and global force posture realignments, is maintaining the capacity to resist any effort by Beijing to resort to force to dictate the terms of Taiwan's future status.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Institute for International Economics consider that military conflict between China and Taiwan is not inevitable. When it to occur, however, it would very likely lead to serious political, and potentially military, conflict between the United States and China. U.S. policy toward the Taiwan impasse has been primarily concerned with process; the United States urges that any resolution be peaceful and non-coercive (thus pursuing a declared policy of "peaceful resolution" rather than Beijing's "peaceful reunification"). Washington also has declared its opposition to unilateral actions by either side to change the status quo. But, the ball of unifying China is in China's hand to display more creativity in its approach to Taiwan to truly win the hearts and minds of the island's people in order to ensure the peaceful achievement of unification.28

3. The hands-off position.

James McGregor considers that U.S. and China have manageable differences and complimentary interests. The United States could help China and itself at the same time. He suggests that domestic politics should stop at the U.S. border and stop preaching instant democracy. 29

The issue of Taiwan could lead to a disastrous war between the United States and China, says Ted Galen Carpenter. The United States, China, and Taiwan are on a collision course, and unless something dramatically changes, an armed conflict is virtually inevitable within a decade. Carpenter explains what the United States must do quickly to avoid being dragged into war. The United States should make it clear and firm that the United States will not become involved in any armed struggle between Taiwan and China if a conflict between Taiwan and China occurs.30

Again, Carpenter repeated his argument. Justin Logan and Ted Galen Carpenter suggest that "America should promptly terminate any implied defense commitment to Taiwan."� According to the authors, Taiwan spends far too little on its own defense, in large part because the Taiwanese believe the United States is their ultimate protector. The People's Republic of China has already deployed nearly 1,000 ballistic missiles across the strait from Taiwan, and Beijing's military modernization program appears to be oriented toward credibly threatening military action if Taipei's moves toward independence continue. It would be dubious enough for the United States to risk war with an emerging great power like China to defend a small client state, even if that state were making a serious effort to provide for its own defense. It would be even worse to incur that risk on behalf of a client state that is not willing to make a robust defense effort. To minimize the risk of a disastrous conflict, America should promptly terminate any implied defense commitment to Taiwan.31

Richard C. Bush points out three aggravating factors on the relations: (1) the impact of domestic politics in each country, as in Taiwan, there is a strong Taiwanese identity and significant fear of outsiders; (2) decision-making on each side on the cross-Strait issue is centralized and personalized; and (3) the zero-sum leverage game, that is there is little that Taiwan can do to influence Chinese politics. Bush cautions the danger that both sides consider that time favors its adversary. For some forces in Taiwan to conclude that the only way to secure the future is to go for independence while China is relatively weak and constrained by the Olympics, whereas to China, preemptive military action is needed to keep the door to unification from closing. The danger is to invite unnecessary conflict. Both sides should take option of shaping the current situation to maximize their shared interests and minimize the risk of a foolish conflict. 32

4.The pro-independence position.

Lawrence B. Wilkerson, the U.S. Army Colonel who was Collin Powell's chief of staff through two administrations, points out that "neocons" in the top of the administration quietly encouraged Taiwanese politicians to move toward a declaration of independence from mainland China. They included such key architects of the Iraq War as Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, Douglas Feith, the undersecretary for policy, and Steven Cambone, Rumsfeld's intelligence chief, and President Bush's controversial envoy to the United Nations, John Bolton. The Defense Department� was dispatching a person to Taiwan every week, essentially to tell the Taiwanese that the alliance was back on. 33 Bolton in a recent speech on "US global democracy strategy and cooperation with Taiwan" at the Grand Formosa Regent hotel in Taipei August 14 at the invitation of the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy suggested U.S. should restore diplomatic relations with Taiwan and the UN 2758 Resolution should be repealed.34 And he implied that Beijing is a paper tiger who would not act if Washington officially recognized Taiwan as a country.. 35

Reports James Fallows, former senator Gary Hart, who served as co-chair of the "U.S. Commission on National Security in the 21st Century," the Hart-Rudman Commission, mentioned Mrs. Lynne Cheney on the commission opined that the overwhelming threat was from China. Sooner or later the U.S. would end up in a military showdown with the Chinese Communists. There was no avoiding it, and we would only make ourselves weaker by waiting. No one else spoke up in support. The same argument happened at the second meeting. Finally, in frustration, she left the commission.� Hart added. "I am convinced that if it had not been for 9/11, we would be in a military showdown with China today." Not because of what China was doing, threatening, or intending, he made clear, but because of the assumptions the Administration brought with it when taking office .36

Another key character in the hawkish group was Therese Shaheen, wife of Rumsfield's spokesman, DiRita, the former chief of the U.S. office of the American Institute in Taiwan.� She openly championed the independence movement, at one point even publicly reinterpreting President Bush's reiteration of the "one China" policy, saying that the administration "had never said it opposed Taiwan independence."� Colin Powell asked for her resignation. 37 Ms Shaheed is now chairperson of the Taiwan supported �U.S. Asia Economic Foundation created on October 20, 2007.� The Foundation supports Taiwan for independence.

On February 16, 2007, Representative Thomas G. Tancredo introduced Bipartisan Resolution that would call for the United States to resume normal diplomatic relations with Taiwan.38 He recently declared that he would not seek for another term. Taiwan will lose a strong supporter in Congress. U.S. lawmakers introduced a resolution June 26, 2007 for an end to restrictions on visits to the United States by high-level Taiwanese officials. The resolution was unanimously adopted by a voice vote on July 30, 2007. The resolution's sponsor in the House, Republican Steve Chabot, says it is time to send a clear message to Beijing over Taiwan, which the United States is legally bound to defend in any military conflict.39 Rep. Steve Chabot is another strong supporter of Taiwan. In his letter to Examiner a year ago, Rep. Chabot considers that "there is a lot more at stake for the U.S. than who controls power in Taipei. Should Taiwan decide to move in the direction of accommodation with the PRC, U.S. interests in Asia would steadily be eroded.40 On November 8, nineteenth U.S. law makers led by New Jersey Republican Representative Scott Garrett introduced a bill in the House of Representatives backing UN membership for Taiwan.41

Bruce Herschensohn, another staunch supporter of Taiwan, states that the first Shanghai Communiqué was intentionally misinterpreted as a basis for the other two Communiqués.42 He produced President Nixon's letter to President Carter in which President Nixon expressed concern about President Carter's recognition of China with no adequate guarantees against the use of force to resolve the Taiwan issue. 43 The letter appears to be contrary to the declassified President Nixon's assurance noted earlier. Herschensohn urges the United States to defend Taiwan as a democratic nation.

The U.S. Congress is incredibly supportive of Taiwan. Congressional support takes a number of bipartisan initiatives to focus more U.S. attention on Taiwan and to raise its international status which include House establishment of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus in 2002, Senate establishment of the Senate Taiwan Caucus in 2003,44 and fairly recently House resolutions in support of Taiwan noted earlier. While opposing Taiwan's move for independence, Senator Dianne Feinstein gave scary remarks: there is a "mind-set in Congress" and "China is destined to become an enemy of the U.S." 45

American public, however, tends to support one China and Taiwan a part of China. In 2003, the Foreign Policy Association released its National Opinion Ballot Report which highlights its findings on Taiwan: (1) 26 percent yes and 74 percent no to the question, should the U.S. make an explicit pledge to defend Taiwan against an invasion from the mainland; (2) 35 percent yes and 65 percent no to the question, should the U.S. encourage Taiwan's quest for independence.46 But, public opinion is volatile.

To pursue peaceful unification, though not an up-hill fight, has roadblocks in the way that has to be removed. The roadblocks are referred to: (1) U.S. has never openly expressed opposition to Taiwan for independence; (2) U.S. has insisted to maintain the status quo, that is in fact two nations across the Strait; (3) U.S. has never recognized China's sovereignty over Taiwan since President Reagan's Six Assurances; (4) U.S. continues sale of armament to Taiwan; and (5) U.S. ambiguous stance to defend Taiwan. The Taiwan government is pushing by all means to independence, such as planned referendum to bid for UN membership using the name of Taiwan, instead of the Republic of China, short of formal declaration. The U.S. roadblocks and the U.S. Congress's support of Taiwan may give Taiwan a signal or wrong impression for independence

Most Chinese in the United States are supporting and upholding with passion and tenacity the one China principle. They have formed organizations to advocate, advance, and promote unification of Taiwan, such as Hetonghui (Peaceful Unification of China Association), Cutonghui (Advocating Unification Association), One China Committee, New York Association for Peaceful Unification of China, Taiwan Alliance for One China Action,� and others. Both Hetonghui and Cutonghui have a number of chapters in the States, with slightly different names. Hetonghui is holding its Global Summit for China's Peaceful Unification in Washington, D.C., today. The New York Association and the Taiwan Alliance are organized by Chinese Americans born in Taiwan. The One China Committee was formed by a group of Americans and Americans of Chinese descent.

Their mission and efforts are in unison. It is their challenge to campaign vigorously to the American public and private sectors on one China and Taiwan is a part of China. Efforts are to be devoted to (1) inform and update members of Congress on unification of Taiwan; (2) try to change the mind-set of Congress in favor of unification; (3) provide the media, scholars and the general public with information on the cause of unification; (4) start a grassroots campaign for one China; (5) suggest the United States to diminish or abandon involvement in Taiwan; and (6) reiterate no legal obligation on the United States to defend Taiwan.It is a monumental, difficult job. But, the goal of unification of Taiwan will be eventually achieved.

NOTES

1. Three nos policy by Clinton: (1) no support for an independent Taiwan; (2) no recognition of "two Chinas" or one China and a separate Taiwan; and (3) no support for Taiwan's admission to any international organization that requires statehood as a condition for membership

2. President Bush stated on the ABC Good Morning America April 25, 2001 that the United States would do whatever it takes to help Taiwan to defend itself. In April 2001, the President also approved a substantial sale of U.S. weapons to Taiwan, including Kidd-class destroyers, anti-submarine P-3 "Orion" aircraft, and diesel submarines. The White House also was more accommodating to visits from Taiwan officials than previous U.S. Administrations.

3. Nancy Bernkopf Tucker, "Strategic Ambiguity or Strategic Clarity?" in Tucker, ed. Dangerous Strait: The U.S. - Taiwan - China Crisis (Columbia University Press, 2005), pp. 205-210.

4. Article 8: ". . . possibilities for a peaceful reunification should be completed exhausted, the state shall employ non-peaceful means and other necessary measures to protect China's sovereignty and territorial integrity."

5. In his presentation on U.S.-China relations before the Committee on International Relations, U.S. House of Representatives on May 10, 2006.

6. Ibid.

7. Sean McCormack, U.S. Department of State Spokesman at daily briefing on March 4, 2007, stated "as is well established, the United States does not support independence for Taiwan. President Bush has repeatedly underscored his opposition to unilateral changes to the status quo by either Taipei or Beijing because these threaten regional peace and stability, U.S. national interest and Taiwan's own welfare."

8. U.S. Department of State released December 20, 2004 the transcript of an interview of Charlie Rose with Deputy Secretary Richard L. Armitage on PBS on December 10. Mr. Armitage also repeated the U.S. official position that "[w]e all agree that there is but one China, and Taiwan is part of China. We are guided in our own relationship with China by three communiqués, which have been negotiated by successive Administrations, and the Taiwan Relations Act. And successive Administrations since the time of normalization in 1979 have been able to carry forth, develop relations with China and maintain good relations with the people of Taiwan."

9. At the daily press briefing of the State Department on December 6, 2006 in Washington, D.C.

10. Whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/04.

11. Speech at the National Committee on U.S.China Relations in New York,October 24, 2007; released by the U.S. State Department on October 27.

12 .Ibid.

 13. U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC) released its 2006 annual report on November 16, 2006. The Commission is a bipartisan organization established by Congress in 2000 to investigate, analyze and provide recommendations to Congress on the economic and national security implications of the U.S.-China relationship

14. Ibid.

15. Testimony in Congress on February 7, 2004.

16. Randall Schriver, "Taiwan needs `six new assurances'," Taipei Times, August 22, 2007.

17. Peter Enav, San Francisco Chronicle, August 12, 2006.

18. Council on Foreign Relations, U.S.-China Relations: An Affirmative Agenda, a Responsible Course (2007), pp. 47-54, 86-87.

19. Released on March 29, 2007.

20. Ibid.

21. A New Division of Labor: Meeting America's Security Challenges Beyond Iraq, prepared by RAND Project AIR FORCE, the U.S. Air Force's federally funded research and development center for studies and analyses.

22. Showdown: Why China Wants War With the United States (Regnery, 2006). an essay and a fiction, presenting hawkish and provocative view on China's fast growing military strength.

23. Ibid., p. 150.

24. China's New Great Leap Forward: High Technology and Military Power in the Next Half-Century (2005).

25.Shihoko Goto, United Press International, Mach 10, 2007

26. Audrey Mcavoy, Terrorism Research Center, Apr 16, 2007

27. U.S. Department of Defense released May 25 a report to Congress on China's military power pursuant to the National Defense Authorization Act Fiscal Year 2000. Precision capacity includes Short-Range Ballistic Missiles (SRBMs), Medium-Range Ballistic Missiles (MRBMs) (1000-3000 km). Land-Attack Cruise Missiles (LACMs), Air-to-Surface Missiles (ASMs). And Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles (ASCMs).

28. Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Institute for International Economics, China: The Balance Sheet (Public Affairs, 2006).

29. James McGregor, "Advantage, China. In This Match, They Play Us Better Than We Play Them," Washington Post, July 31, 2005.

30. Ted Galen Carpenter, America's Coming War with China: A Collision Course over Taiwan (Palgrave Macmillan , 2006). Dr. Carpenter is Vice President for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies, Cato Institute.

31. "Taiwan's Defense Budget: How Taipei's Free Riding Risks War," released in Policy Analysis, September 13, 2007.

32. Richard C. Bush, Untying the Knot: Making Peace in the Taiwan Strait. (Brookings Institution Press, 2005). Mr. Bush is former chairman and managing director of the American Institute in Taiwan, based in Washington, D.C.

33. Reported by Jeff Stein, CQ, June 1, 2007.

34. Taipei Times, August 14, 2007.

35. Taipei Times, August 15, 2007.

36. Hart's conversation with James Fallows in an article, The AtlanticOnline, July 5, 2007.�� The Philippine LaRouche Society gave the article an alarming title: "The Cheney Gang Planned War on China."

37. Ibid.

38. H. Cong Res 73.

39. Yahoo!News, June 26, 2007. The resolution was passed unanimously by a voice vote on July 30, 2007.� A similar resolution which was introduced by Rep. Chabot in 2004 and again in 2006 went nowhere. Washington Post, August 1, 2007.

40. Letter to Examiner, June 30, 2006.

41. Channelnewsasia.com, November 10, 2007.

42. Bruce Herschensohn, Taiwan: The Threatened Democracy (World Aheard, 2006), p. 26.

43. Ibid., pp. 32-33.

44. In an update report in March 2006, "Taiwan: Recent Developments and U.S. Policy Choices," by Kerry B. Dumbaugh.

45. In a question-and-answer session, Feinstein said after her speech at the annual meeting of the Committee 100 in San Francisco on April 21, 2006. Reported David Armstrong, San Francisco Chronicle, April 21, 2006

46. Foreign Policy Association 2003 annual Great Decisions which includes the National Opinion Ballot Report. The national opinion ballot survey has conducted since 1955.