Su Chi, former Secretary-General of the National Security Council of Taiwan, believes cross-Strait relations should be valued more. On the contrary, Qiu Zhaolin, a researcher with the Institute of European and American studies, the Academia Sinica, argued that Taiwan should prove its value to the United States. She highlighted the view of US Secretary of State Kissinger during his China visit in 1969, that it would be a big mistake to give the “crown jewel” to the Chinese mainland. She emphasized that when the question of if Taiwan should be given up creates heated debate, Taiwan must do something about it.
Qiu said the “abandoning Taiwan theory” first emerged between 2009 and 2011 when President Obama just took office. At the time, some officials echoed the theory, like former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski. They expected to improve relations with China but found out later the softer they become, the weaker China would perceive them to be. She believes that the US is now thinking differently. Back in 1979 when the US first established diplomatic ties with the Chinese mainland, it was intending to contain the former Soviet Union, while now, the mainland has replaced Russia to become its top threat.
Trump’s remarks about imposing higher duties on Chinese imports during the election campaign had drawn widespread attention. Qiu argued the reason Trump asked for more military spending by Japan and South Korea is because he thinks they are rich. Despite that, no presidential candidate has ever threatened American allies to withdraw armies. Now, he is just asking sharing military expenses.
Regarding the pivot to Asia policy during the Obama administration, Qiu said that the United States has come a long way to establish cooperation with the Philippines, and has provided the country more aid. If the new president becomes reluctant to step in, the Chinese mainland would avail itself the opportunity to get in and weaken its alliance. Recently, relations between the US and the Philippines have changed. The new president in the Philippines has announced to end presence of foreign troops. That is to say, if Trump failed to get along well with the Philippines, it would affect all US allies’ confidence. So, even if the US wants to reverse its Asian pivot policy, it would think twice.
Trump’s win has stunned the world. According to Qiu, the stock markets of Japan, South Korea and the US all took a hit. Japan, South Korea and Taiwan had convened national security conferences for the reason. So, she suggests waiting and seeing if Japan and South Korea would raise military spending and if the nature of US military alliance with the two countries would change. She pointed out if Trump would put emphasis on his own country to deal with huge debt, then NATO and Saudi Arabia would have to shoulder more military expenses too.
Qiu mentioned that Trump had proposed to increase taxes and employment in the US. She warned that Trump should be careful that as the US president, any single word may be misinterpreted and thus cause turmoil in the international markets. Campaign rhetoric is different from practical action.
So, if the US would abandon Taiwan, Qiu suggested Taiwan to highlight its own value. “The point is not what Chinese mainland would do, but what we would do,” she said. There are political debates about cross-Strait policies. She called on the Taiwan administration to listen to the voice of common people. She called on the administration to not focus on the 1992 Consensus, and instead abide by the Constitution and Cross-Strait Relations Act to push for resumption of talks.
On one hand, Qiu endorsed the Tsai Ing-wen administration, saying if there was no TPP, Taiwan should put all of its efforts on the new Southbound Policy, reiterating that “only if Taiwan is in a balanced position can cross-Strait talks resume.” On the other hand, she believes that the US would value Taiwan’s strategic value.
The article is translated and edited by Rebecca Lin.
(Opinions expressed in the article don't represent those of the Sino-US.com)