美國國會參眾兩院將在9月份開始審議一項決定台美關係大躍進的重要法案「2022台灣政策法」（The Taiwan Policy Act of 2022）。這是由參議院外交委員會主席梅南德茲（Robert Menendez）和共和黨議員格雷厄姆（Lindsey Graham）聯名提出的。這項法案若經審查通過並交付總統拜登簽署執行，不僅是一項跨黨派、重磅級的挺台法案，更是台美重建一種「沒有官方之名的官方關係」的重大起步，台美之間將逼近1979年（美中建交）之前「全政府形式」的官方關係。法案共分三大篇、九大主題、107頁，立足於結構性增補《臺灣關係法》的基礎，納入《六項保證》的精神與規定，以「包裹立法」（a package of legislation）的方式，展現美國全面支持臺灣民主政體的立場。儘管法案聲明以不與台灣恢復外交關係為前提，但法案開宗明義指出，法案的目的在「促進台灣安全」、「確保區域穩定」、「遏制中國對台侵略」，以及採取嚴厲制裁中國對台灣的「敵對行動」（hostile action）。這是一項設計完備、包羅萬象、具體可行的護台法案，一旦付諸執行，將是40多年來美國對台政策最清晰的法律表達，最重要的是，法案的施行將徹底支解並淘空中共的「一中原則」，以極限逼近「軍事同盟」的軌道，促使美台關係朝向「高階/準官方」的模式邁進。
I am not as optimistic as Dr. Song – if the Taiwan Policy Act of 2022 passes without major revisions, and if it is signed by President Biden, the executive branch has many tools to slow-walk and water down the measures (see also, legislation re: the Chinese communist genocide in East Turkestan.)
What these major legislative push shows are three main things. First, decades of mediocre American presidents have long delayed much-needed reevaluations of US-Taiwan policies. Such reviews started way back during the Clinton administration, and for one or another reason, expectations were never matched by results. Bureaucratic inertia, foreign entanglements, domestic scandals, “the blob” being its blobby selves, etc etc. Therefore, it is good to see sustained pressure coming from both political parties in Congress.
The second context is this. DC policy circles are mostly stuck in the imperious idea that they are “managing” or “creating” the world as we experience it, overestimating their roles and underestimating factors out of American control. Whether DC chooses to adjust to the dynamic, changing meaning of the “status quo,” Taiwan Republic, communist China, and even the US in 2022 are vastly different than 1972, or 1978. Rather than seeing this legislative effort as “changing the status quo,” it is a belated updating of formal policies to catch up with geopolitical reality.
Finally, this reminds me of the no-we-are-not-maybe-we-will Ross and Rachel dance between the US and the PRC from 1949 to 1978. While the US embassy to China remained in Taipei, and while the official statements kept asserting that US policy remained unchanged, salami slicing continued unabated, with changes in world conditions, the nature of contact between DC and Beijing changed, substantially, and rapidly. Given the dismal performance of the Biden White House on the Pelosi episode, I am not holding out high hopes for this. A wise and creative executive would minimize fighting against Congress on this issue, and use this as an opportunity to “internationalize” America’s policies on Taiwan – i.e., exporting the Taiwan Relations Act+ model to fellow democracies of Japan and EU. Using this approach as one of many other policy tools to prevent a Chinese communist war of annexation against Taiwan from ever starting. If we learn nothing else from the democratic west’s failure in Ukraine, it ought to be that porcupine or not, finding credible ways to prevent an authoritarian belligerent from starting an invasion is key for all of our interests. 7.9.2022
Additional report: 重構美對台政策 美國會9月將審理《2022年台灣政策法》
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