Tag Archives: geostrategery

New change at the Pentagon waters down focus on Taiwan, critics say “Anything that dilutes America’s focus on helping Taiwan to defend itself is a really bad idea,” Sen. Dan Sullivan said, Politico: Geostrategery, politics, and Taiwan Republic classrooms

The Pentagon has made administrative changes in how it handles Taiwan policy, a shift that lawmakers and former officials say sends the wrong signal to Beijing as the Chinese military steps up drills around the self-ruled island. The move — which involves placing the Taiwan portfolio under the office responsible for China policy — could provide a new line of attack among President Joe Biden’s opponents who claim he is weak on China. The changes come as officials are increasingly worried about Beijing’s aggression toward Taiwan, particularly after a crisis erupted in the Taiwan Strait in August after China launched unprecedented military exercises, including sending missiles over the island, in response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei. “Anything that dilutes America’s focus on helping Taiwan to defend itself is a really bad idea,” Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) told POLITICO. “Pulling Taiwan back into a portfolio dominated by China sends the wrong signal to Beijing — that they can dictate our relationship with the island democracy. Or worse, it will facilitate consultation with Beijing on our approach to Taiwan’s security needs.” “The Chinese will not interpret this as a coincidence,” said Heino Klinck, who served as the deputy assistant secretary of Defense for East Asia in the Trump administration. “I think unintentionally or perhaps naively, we are signaling that our relationship with Taiwan is a subset of our relationship with mainland China.”

I have confidence in President Biden and most of his national security liberal hawks. Unlike the corporate media and DC chattering class, I don’t think President Biden repeatedly committed Taiwan “gaffes” – any more than I believe he committed Ukraine “gaffes.” And most of the Biden national security officials are professional, competent, and for a Democratic administration, perhaps the most Taiwan conscious since 1979. And of all of the bureaucratic institutions in DC, the Pentagon is the one I worry the least about when it comes to what the Taiwan Republic means to American national interest.

This move, however, does fall into a worrisome pattern of Biden administration’s unforced errors re: the Chinese communists. Cutting through the useless and misleading constructs of hawks versus doves, provocation versus conciliation for the moment – this is not the first time where the Biden team has taken a status quo/reality and walked themselves back and twisted themselves in knots with little gained. A routine visit to the Taiwan Republic by the Speaker of the House turned, in large parts by the Biden White House and the DC chattering class, into an unnecessary international incident. The Biden State Department needlessly edited, multiple times, its Taiwan Policy webpage. And now, this superfluous – and easily misinterpreted by the Chinese communists – move by the Pentagon to place Taiwan underneath the China portfolio – whatever bureaucratic efficiency and “right-sizing” that may come from this move, it is difficult to argue that the damage to Taiwan and America is justified.

And this is where the establishment US-western – academia, media, think tanks, and officialdom – dealing with the Chinese communists remain blissfully, stubbornly detached from reality. To the Chinese communists and their struggle against the US and global democracies, the war is in all realms, in all ways – commerce, technology, higher ed, information, public, private, NGOs …. Name the realm, and for Beijing, it is just another battlespace. And so, for whatever reason and whatever purpose the Pentagon saw fit to make this change, the most disheartening part is that leading US national security officials remain ignorant of the type of struggle the Chinese communists are waging against the US and other democracies. To use a phrase favored by the Biden team – the Chinese communists are waging an “all of government/all of nation” war against the US and democracies. We cannot afford to not perceive this and adjust how we conceptualize the global geostrategic environment. The two key elements to deter a Chinese communist war of annexation against Taiwan. First, dictator Xi and the Chinese communists must be made to understand that a war of their own choosing will end their dictatorship. Second, the US, Japan and other democracies must internationalize Taiwan – separate it from China. This Pentagon move does the opposite of these two key prime directives. 19.9.2022

Additional reporting: Taiwan portfolio change in US prompts concern
WRONG MESSAGE? A regulatory change putting Washington’s Taiwan oversight into its ‘China’ office waters down focus on Taipei and is inappropriate, critics said

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Taiwan and the global maritime empire: World history and geostrategery classrooms

Signal and noise, forest and trees. Many over-the-top reports about Chinese communist blockades and missiles and jet fighters around Taiwan Republic. Related to my earlier post about the nature of Taiwanese democratization and its resilience, compared to the 1996 Chinese communist crisis, this time Taiwan Republic is far more democratic, diverse, and less reliant on a centralized party-state. This is the same as the unruly democracy in Ukraine that confounded and surprised the invading Soviet Red Army and western experts. Imperialists, western or not, are always confounded when peasants have their own ideas – and are willing to fight for them.

Rather than being led by the western press and think tanks passing on Chinese communist scary talking points, and staring only at Speaker Pelosi’s visit or these Chinese communist military intimidations, none of what’s been happening makes any sense without understanding the nature of global shipping. It is not that Taiwan is unique or important per se, but that Taiwan is one of many, many global maritime chokepoints in the Chinese communist world war against the maritime global order imposed by the US Navy. From 1300 AD to now we have lived in an era of global maritime empires. Each leading maritime imperial power has had unique takes on how this empire building ought to proceed. But they ALL share a core principle – a ‘rules-based’ world order and a ‘free and open maritime environment’ that is to serve the global movements of goods, services, and labor. Anything, ANYTHING (and anyone) that interferes with this principle is pummeled.

The revival of the Chinese communist economy from 1980 to 2022 owes largely to this global maritime imperial order imposed by the US Navy. But as the Chinese communists ascend, and the US stalled or declined, this Globalization 1.0 world order frayed. This is why while it is important to study the Taiwan case, not connecting Taiwan to many many other global cases misses the central point – the Chinese communist navy bases in East Africa, Mideast, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. Chinese communists claimed the entirety of the South and East Seas. Chinese communists recently declared the Taiwan Strait as Chinese territorial water, functionally choking off critical supplies for Japan and Korea. Chinese communist military expansions into the south Pacific. Chinese communist “corporations” buying major global shipping harbors – and shares of the Panama and Suez canals. The main point is that this present Chinese communist crisis over Taiwan Republic is not occurring in isolation – and all of them are related to a long-standing effort by the Chinese communists to subvert the maritime empire created and led by the US Navy.

Once we understand the historical and global context, then it is easier to guess what the US Navy, Japanese Navy, and NATO navies will do if the Chinese communists come anywhere near a blockade of the Taiwan Republic. And no of course this is not about friendship. It is not even about democracy though it really doesn’t hurt. It’s actually not even about dollars and cents per se. A global maritime imperial order requires steadfast enforcement of precedence. The two ‘recent’ historical precedents I can think of are the Libyan attempt to claim the tiny, far less economically important than the Taiwan Strait Gulf of Sidra, as their own – the US Navy showed up in less than a day and pummeled the Libyan military. And the Iranian attempt to blockade the opening to the Pershing Gulf – US and allied navies showed up immediately and annihilated the Iranian navy. 3.8.2022

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Deterring a Chinese war of annexation with the Taiwan Policy Act of 2022: Geostrategery and Taiwan Republic 台灣国 classrooms

When you install an alarm system for your home are you “provoking” and “escalating” against your neighbor? Only if one believes your neighbors have the right to access your home. The simple but clearest way to think about Taiwan Republic and Ukraine.

Global studies-information warfare pro tip: think of the narratives generated by Moscow and its echo chambers in western academia, media, think tanks, and officialdom against democratic Ukraine (It’s about NATO, the pandemic made Putin crazy, we need offramps and golden bridges for Moscow, de-escalation but only by Ukrainians conceding land and democratic sovereignty …. Nuclear war!); and the propaganda generated by the Chinese communists, their amen corners in western academia, media, think tanks against Speaker Pelosi’s routine visit to Taiwan Republic (The Fourth Taiwan Strait Crisis, dictator Xi’s fragile ego and coronation as dictator for life, apparently someone in the White House has a Chinese Communist farmer’s almanac and it shows American officials may not visit Taiwan on “PLA Day,” don’t forget “face”!) as global information warfare dress rehearsals. Then understand the “Taiwan Policy Act of 2022 will raise tension/anger the snowflakey Chinese/nucular war etc etc” hot takes coming from western experts in this context.

I have written about the Taiwan Policy Act so will not repeat here This should have been done during the 1990s. Think of the TPA as a decades late updating of the Taiwan Relations Act, TRA 2.0. As to angering the Chinese — wake me up when they are not hysterical about something, that would be the real news/moment to notice. The fallacy held by many in the west is also the key lesson that remains unlearned from the west’s deadly mistakes in Ukraine. While we should never purposely provoke a dictatorship, we should also remain clear-eyed that a dictatorship’s choices are often not tied to actions chosen by global democracies. Did the west ‘provoke’ the Chinese communist genocide against Tibet? Or the genocide against East Turkestan? Was the Putin invasion of Ukraine provoked by anyone in DC or Kyiv (I know, to some in the west, by Ukrainians and Taiwanese merely daring to democratically elect their leaders and have an opinion about their own future they are ‘provocations’ ….) So we return to the key issue for all frontline democracies – not lofty jargon and theories which did nothing to prevent the loss of lives and suffering in Ukraine and elsewhere – How do democracies prevent-deter war launched by dictators without capitulation and surrendering one’s democratic sovereignty? Taiwan Policy Act of 2022 is an important step in clarifying to Beijing that an invasion to annex Taiwan will be treated by the global democracies as an international incident, not a domestic affair. It should raise the price for war for Beijing, hopefully, high enough cost to prevent a war of annexation.

台灣政策法案出委員會 美國務院感謝國會力挺台 https://news.ltn.com.tw/news/world/breakingnews/4059671

Taiwan Policy Act would help Taiwan boost defense more swiftly: Scholars https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202209150018

US’ Taiwan bill adds new arms spending https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2022/09/16/2003785398

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Internationalizing Taiwan to deter a Chinese war of annexation – “Lithuanian office opens in Taipei,” Taipei Times: Geostrategery and Taiwan Republic 台灣国 classrooms

Lithuania’s first representative to Taiwan, Paulius Lukauskas, on Monday applied to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for diplomatic documentation, marking the official opening of the Lithuanian Trade Representative Office in Taipei, the ministry said yesterday …. After Taiwan established the Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania in Vilnius in November last year, the Lithuanian government said it would also establish an office in Taiwan, Department of European Affairs Director-General Remus Chen (陳立國) said …. Lukauskas arrived in Taiwan earlier this month and on Monday requested that the ministry issue documentation recognizing him as a foreign dignitary, Chen said.

Recent breakthroughs in Taiwan Republic’s foreign relations, Baltics and Eastern Europe, Somaliland, and the South Pacific are vital to deter a Chinese communist war of annexation. This is why the arguments over “symbolic” versus “substantive” are, much like other recurring arguments over hawks or doves, realists or unrealistic, beside the point. Will Lithuania ever play a dominant role in Taiwan’s GDP? Probably not. Yet Lithuania represents a sea change in American, Japanese, and European attitudes toward the threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party upon the world. Lithuania and Somaliland also represent creative re-thinking on how best to recognize Taiwan’s democratic sovereignty, without full breaks with the Chinese communists. To edge towards internationalizing Taiwan as much as possible, so as to prevent Beijing and its allies in Taiwan and the west from claiming that an invasion is a “domestic issue.” This is why it is important for the US and Japan to think more broadly about the threats posed by Beijing, and how best to prevent a war. Integrating Taiwan into the US-Japan-EU-led global economic, cultural, educational, and technological systems will go a long way in doing so. A more proactive approach by the US to export its Taiwan Relations Act+ model to like-minded allies will also undercut any efforts by the Chinese communists, its allies in Taiwan, and the west, from sabotaging international efforts to prevent a Chinese invasion of annexation.

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Deterring a Chinese communist war of annexation against Taiwan – “U.S. considers China sanctions to deter Taiwan action; Taiwan presses EU” CNBC: Geoeconomics and Taiwan Republic 台灣国 classrooms

The United States is considering options for a sanctions package against China to deter it from invading Taiwan, with the European Union coming under diplomatic pressure from Taipei to do the same, according to sources familiar with the discussions. The sources said the deliberations in Washington and Taipei’s separate lobbying of EU envoys were both at an early stage — a response to fears of a Chinese invasion which have grown as military tensions escalate in the Taiwan Strait. In both cases, the idea is to take sanctions beyond measures already taken in the West to restrict some trade and investment with China in sensitive technologies like computer chips and telecoms equipment. The sources did not provide any details of what is being considered but the notion of sanctions on the world’s second-largest economy and one of the global supply chain’s biggest links raises questions of feasibility.

The most reassuring part of this report is the indication that the US and Taiwan Republic are collaborating. Remarkable progress in that the US is allowing the Taiwanese ambassador to the US to do this, in public – what a difference a few decades make. Would be even better if Japan co-lead this effort. The Chinese Communist Party ‘war’ against the world is all domain, multidimensional – and so seeing geoeconomic tools as a part of the efforts to deter a war of annexation against Taiwan makes sense. The main lesson from the Russian invasion and war of annexation against Ukraine is that a dictatorship like Russia and China will have very different ways of calculating “acceptable economic sacrifices.” And so I suspect the two main tools for the US, Japan, EU, and Taiwan to dissuade dictator Xi from launching a war of annexation remain convincing dictator Xi that such a move would lead to the end of his dictatorship. A parallel to the Ukraine case is the dictatorship’s information bubble – somehow Putin either convinced himself or selectively only listened to those inside Russia and Ukraine that assured him that Kyiv would fold and that most Ukrainians would welcome an invasion. One suspects Xi has created a similar information bubble, wherein he has selectively listened only to the most extreme anti-democracy anti-Taiwan voices inside Taiwan – assured, falsely, that Taipei would melt the way Chiang Kai-shek and his party-state did in 1949 and that the majority of Taiwanese would welcome a Chinese communist annexation. How the US, Japan, EU, and Taiwan find effective and convincing voices to change this perception in Beijing will go a long way to dissuade dictator Xi from resorting to an invasion.

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Deterring war with counterstrike capability for Taiwan and Japan: Geostrategery and world history classrooms

After an earlier post on Taiwanese and Japanese counterstrike capabilities, a student emailed with questions. Here are my explanations and clarifications. In this analysis let’s separate the strategic from the tactical. The strategic objective for any democracy – Taiwan Republic, Japan, Ukraine, Poland – is to avoid war without surrendering democratic sovereignty and independence. The strategic cost of a democracy not having counterstrike capacity is sadly being played out in Ukraine – where the invading belligerent can lob long-range missiles at any location inside Ukraine, yet residents of Moscow can go on their business as if they did not start a war of annexation. It has also forced the Ukrainians to tolerate the democratic West offering weapons with an eyedrop – in pace, in quantity, in quality since 2014. The democratic west is even able to impose the unreasonable and irrational rule that the Russians can hit Ukraine, but Ukraine may not strike targets inside Russia.

On the tactical. Japan’s current inability to strike at any targets in communist China means that when the Chinese communists hit at strategic Japanese installations, at best Japan could take defensive measures, but must rely on the US to prevent the sources of attack from perpetuating the violence. Meaning, that in any conflict where one side is artificially forced to not have counterstrike capabilities, the conflict always lasts longer – there is no incentive for the Russians to stop; there will not be an incentive for the Chinese communists to change course. Worse, it means convenient and comfortable Chinese military bases to strike Japan will all be available to Beijing – and Tokyo must rely on a US POTUS to not get weak at his knees and to act.

How many democratically elected leaders of any nation would voluntarily allow her nation’s national security to be contingent on the determination and courage of a foreign leader – even the President of the United States of America? This is also why the labels “hawks” and “doves” or even “peace” and “war” as used among western academia and officialdom and press are meaningless. Before February 24 not one soul in democratic Kyiv wanted war, hawkish or not. Ukraine did nothing to provoke, unless you, like some western enlightened believe, by merely breathing and existing Ukraine was provoking an attack. The unfortunate situation Ukraine found itself in was being forced by western powers to be under armed. Not coincidentally, the same western policymakers who ensured Ukraine was weak enough to look attractive to Moscow to attack are the same who have tried to sabotage Taiwan’s ability to counterstrike and be fully armed for decades. Japan is a great nation and a regional-multiregional power. It cannot and must not remain without the ability to strike at the sources of thousands of Chinese communist ballistic missiles aimed at Japan and its democratic allies. This is why I keep predicting, that not only will the Japanese double their military, we will see full-sized carriers, tactical and strategic nuclear-capable missiles, and Japanese officers returning to Taiwan Republic very soon. 5.8.2022

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It’s the democracy, stupid: World history and Taiwan Republic 台灣国 classrooms

A quasi-Taiwanese oligarch once contemptuously asked, “What’s democracy? Can you eat it?” An archaic, narrowminded summary of the contrast between what the Pelosi visit to Taiwan meant, versus the conventional wisdom pushed by Beijing, its allies inside Taiwan, and some in western media and academia.

Western conventional wisdom notwithstanding, the Chinese communist belligerence is not about Pelosi or The Speakership or PLA Day. At every public stop in Taiwan Republic and Japan Speaker Pelosi said the communist taboo words “democracy,” “human rights,” and “Taiwan is a democratic nation.” Taiwan’s democratically elected president Tsai said the communist taboo words “democratic sovereignty” repeatedly. Speaker Pelosi’s visit to the Taiwan Human Rights Park-Museum commemorating the victims of the invading China KMT, and meeting survivors of Chinese communists occupied Tibet, occupied East Turkestan, occupied Hong Kong, and the Tiananmen massacre was what the China Communists and their allies in Taiwan and the west feared the most. A visit mostly ignored or poorly covered by the western media is too cool for school for this democracy-human rights sappiness. Incidentally, one could make a similar observation of the western press corps’s inability to focus on democracy and the threats posed by domestic extremists, too. Ditto the coverage on the courageous Ukrainians defending their democracy, along with their genuine love of their beautiful nation.

This is the world history level irony-paradox: for decades the China KMT and China CCP conspired to domesticate the “Taiwan problem.” How can the functioning democracy be a “problem” while an ethno-nationalist, belligerent, militarist communist dictatorship is not? Yet by its barbarism and belligerence, Beijing has done as much to internationalize Taiwan — a global, oceanic, outward-facing democratic Taiwan, away from the Chinese authoritarian muck and mire — than any force inside Taiwan. If the Biden White House would buck up, instead of fussing about the Pelosi visit, they should coordinate a legislative delegation from democracies to visit Taipei every week from now until the end of the year. If the PLA copycat Russian jet engines are decent enough to sustain massive military barbarism weekly, well then I tip my cap to them. Then maybe we can ask the oppressed masses of communist China: How come you don’t have a democratically elected legislature for foreign delegations to visit? Are you really incapable of exercising your Buddha-given right to choose your own leaders? If “little/periphery” Taiwan can have a democracy that is prosperous and full functioning, why can’t China do the same? 5.8.2022

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Japan, Taiwan Republic, US Navy, preserving the Taiwan Strait ‘status quo’: Geostrategery and journalism classrooms.

Eight Japanese Coast Guard vessels recently sailed into the Taiwan Strait, ostensibly to avoid the typhoon. It’s a very Japanese gesture, refined and civilized — eight is a lot, typhoon gives the snow-flakey Chinese communists a facesaving excuse. Look at a map of the region and ask yourself: Does this make sense? Then connect these dots: the 2022 Chinese communist missile tantrum, their firing of communist missiles into the Japanese EEZ, their unreasonable claims of the entirety of the Taiwan Strait as Chinese communist territorial water, and the two US naval cruisers sailing in formation with Taiwanese naval and coast guard vessels, what should we surmise? I have a folder of reports of US, Taiwan, and Japan coast guard vessels in the South Pacific for the last 12 months — no way they are not coordinating their work in that region. 6.9.2022

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Engineering an inclusive Taiwanese national identity, saying good riddance to the One China prison: National identity, historical memory, and Taiwan Republic 台灣国 classrooms

One of President Tsai’s greatest accomplishments is to fashion a democratic and inclusive Taiwanese national identity – convincing her party to tolerate and even grudgingly embrace RoC iconographies, while opening a democracy-to-defend -Taiwan’s path for supporters of the China KMT and/or RoC. Taiwan is not immune from the dark forces of polarization and mindless populism/utopianism. Tsai’s formulation is a solid governing majority – no one’s entirely satisfied, but good enough for at least three-quarters of this diverse citizenry. And Tsai has managed to do so by leading, summarizing, channeling, and shaping, while listening, responding, understanding where her diverse nation’s citizens are at, and meeting them halfway. A good lesson for autocrats in Moscow and Beijing, and imperialists in DC and NY and beyond: with national identity, a soft touch is more effective than harsh, autocratic edicts. And threats of violence almost always create the opposite effect.

For authoritarian Leninist parties like the China KMT and Chinese Communist Party, and for some western imperialists, national identity and nationalism flow in one direction – top down. Autocrats in the CCP, China KMT, and America complain similarly about books and educators “brainwashing” wayward children reflecting this autocratic mindset. As a history teacher, I’ve always noticed this naivete – autocrats giving formal education, textbooks, and long-suffering teachers way too much credit.

In reality, national identity and nationalism are the results of complex, multidirectional, contradictory forces, often resulting from unintended consequences. When Taiwan became a colony of Japan in 1895 the Japanese did not intend to provoke modern Taiwanese identity – yet they did. When Taiwan was occupied by the China KMT in 1945 the Chinese autocrats did not intend for the Taiwanese to see themselves as different from the invaders – yet they did. Latter-day China KMT, Chinese Communist Party, or DC imperialists did not intend for citizens of Taiwan to see themselves as members of a national community – however defined – apart from the People’s Republic of China, yet this occurred. Far from a top-down model – the pattern is that the harder an autocratic power pushes, whether the Japanese, China KMT, or Chinese communists, the more likely the masses to resist and move in the opposite direction.

This is why even though I am an academic historian, schooled in international relations and world history, I have never agreed with the premise that Taiwan’s status must be history-based, or international law based. National identity and historical memory are not determined by anyone outside power, or authority, or premised on a top-down approach. Decades of Chinese communist genocide against Tibet and East Turkestan will not erase the national identity of those occupied nations. Decades of China KMT brainwashing against the Taiwanese have been equally ineffective. This, by the way, go a long way in explaining why the Soviet-sponsored government of Afghanistan or the US-sponsored governments of Vietnam and Afghanistan melted on contact with the enemy, whereas Ukraine’s democratic government held – a resilient nationalism is one that’s bottom-up, organic, native to the place and people.

Which gets us to this year’s RoC National Day logo. I have written previously about President Tsai’s 2021 National Day speech, and the domestic and international consensus she fashioned regarding what Taiwan’s “status quo” means now. This year’s logo is a deepening of this process. The color and design move farther away from the stodgy China KMT Leninist party-state conceptions. In Mandarin, “You and I together, let’s defend our soil and protect our nation.” A simple statement of democratic sovereignty. Some will fuss that the formal national name RoC did not appear, but that’s the point isn’t it – Tsai and Lee’s efforts have been to fashion a stable domestic compromise – Taiwan, Taiwan RoC, RoC Taiwan, RoC – a democratic, diverse nation where citizens may define “our nation” from that list, with “NOT PRC” as the boundary of this Taiwan status quo. And in English for a global audience, Taiwan’s slow rebranding of itself – ever so slowly disentangling itself from China/Chinese “renegade province/breakaway province ….” nonsense.

Leaders lead, and citizens often do not follow. In this President Tsai has an even deeper understanding than President Lee. So China KMT and other extremists complaining about brainwashing notwithstanding, I think President Tsai understands the complexities of Taiwanese national identities after the Pacific War. Those here before 1945, those who came 1945-1949, those who fled in 1949, and those who arrived later. Indigenous and Hakkas, different regions of Taiwan, social classes and professions, etc. To engineer an inclusive national narrative reflecting these groups and minimize their conflicting memories and share in their democratic present-future. To have this vision accepted by the great powers, the US, Japan, and the EU. Tsai needs to maneuver adroitly and with pragmatism coupled with simple, important principles. This contrasts with the self-inflicted dilemma of the China KMT, wherein its successive chairs are outflanked by loud extremists regarding surrendering to the PRC. Whereas Tsai has managed to pull her party into a remarkable embrace of RoC, its flag, its national day, and its military. And as a part of this process, Taiwanese citizens and their democratically elected national government are creating a national identity and historical memory based on democratic sovereignty. 9.9.2022

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The Taiwan Policy Act of 2022 and updating the Taiwan-US ‘status quo’ 宋國誠專欄:掏空一中原則的準軍事同盟──美國「台灣政策法」重點釋義 Up Media: Geostrategery and Taiwan Republic 台灣国 classrooms

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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