ROBERT E. ANDREWS: One can make a compelling moral case
for the proposition that the democratic and freedom-loving people
of Taiwan should determine for themselves the shape of their
future. It is a moral case that I accept and support, but I'm here
this morning to make the case that a policy that recognizes in the
first instance the right of self-determination for the people of
Taiwan is critical to the strategic interests of the United States
a radical democrat with a small d. I believe that history teaches
us that the security of the American people, the prosperity of the
American people, and the welfare of the American people are best
served when as many states in as many places as possible practice
hard-pressed to cite any example in modern history--and, in fact, I
can think of none--where one democratic state attacked or invaded
another democratic state. Democracies don't attack each other
because democracies use violence as a last resort, not as a first
resort. It is in the best interests of the United States to promote
democracy, whether it is in the Middle East, South Africa, Europe,
the former Soviet states, or, most especially, in Asia with respect
to Taiwan and the People's Republic of China (PRC).
Thirty years from now, whoever is
President, whoever is in the Congress of the United States of
America, will no doubt face a world in which there is one other
dominant country that will vie for influence and power in the
economic, diplomatic, and most probably military spheres. That
other nation will be the People's Republic of China. The PRC by
that time will likely have 1.3 billion people. It will be able to
call to arms as many as five times more men and women than the
United States can call to arms.
the economy of the PRC grows for the next 25 years at the pace at
which it has grown for the past 25 years, China will enjoy in real
terms an economy that is capable of producing a military budget
that is almost twice the size of the U.S. military budget today,
without spending a greater share of its GDP on the military. The
leaders of that nation will not have to choose between guns and
butter to produce a military force that will be nearly twice the
size of America's military force as it exists today.
Influencing the Future
have a chance in the next 25 years not to determine that future,
but to influence it; to create an environment and create conditions
under which the PRC will either evolve toward being a democratic
trading partner and ally of the United States or careen toward
being a military rival of the United States. The lives our children
and grandchildren will live 30 years from now will be darker and
more ominous if the second path occurs. In the next two-and-a-half
decades, we will have the opportunity to try to influence the
evolution of the People's Republic of China toward the first
future of the people of Taiwan is the future of the people of the
United States. It's the same issue. The people of Taiwan are
confronting that issue today. If we understand what we are doing,
we ought to be confronting that issue as well. But whether we
understand it or not, over the course of the next two or three
decades, we will certainly confront that choice; and that choice is
whether we respond in the face of an oligarchic government by
compromising our principles or by adhering to them.
core principle of American democracy in foreign policy should
always be the promotion of democracy--not in all ways, not at all
times, and not in the same manner in every country, but the core
goal and core value should be the propagation of democratic states
around the world. Such is the right policy toward the issue of
Taiwan in this decade.
There are those who would argue that this
would represent a reversal of American policy, most especially
since 1979. I would submit that they are wrong in their
interpretation of history. More important, they are wrong in their
prescription for America's future.
think that a more studied analysis of the history of our relations
in Asia since 1951 would show that the United States has never
recognized the idea or the legal claim that the sovereignty of
Taiwan is a matter for determination in Beijing. To the contrary,
we have always recognized the legal claim that questions about the
sovereignty of Taiwan are a matter of negotiation, a matter of
mutual assent between the people of Taiwan and their freely and
democratically elected government and the government that rules in
the People's Republic of China.
Defining "One China"
seminar, I understand, was organized around the idea of a
"one-China" policy. I think we do have a one-China policy. I think
we should have a one-China policy. But the definition of that
policy should be a matter of mutual assent.
does that mean? It means to me that if the democratically elected
government of Taiwan one day reaches an agreement, which it feels
is appropriate for its citizens, that results in Taiwan being part
of an integrated China, we should recognize that agreement;
however, if such an agreement is not possible, which today it is
not, or if it is rejected by the democratic leadership of Taiwan,
then we should recognize Taiwan as a free and independent
There are those who will say that this is
unduly provocative, that it will disrupt the relations between the
United States and the PRC and lead us toward that dreaded second
path of superpower military competition in the next two to three
decades. I respectfully submit that I can't think of an analysis
that's more wrong than that, and I believe there's historical
precedent for this.
Ronald Reagan and the "Evil Empire"
years, the policy of the United States toward the Soviet Union
after the Second World War was recognition of the inevitability of
Soviet rule after Yalta and a policy of mutual coexistence.
Mutually assured destruction was the more ominous articulation of
that policy. Détente was the more hopeful articulation of
that policy under President Richard Nixon.
1981 and 1982, President Ronald Reagan dramatically changed our
orientation toward that policy. In a speech to the British House of
Commons that was rather mockingly referred to as the "Evil Empire"
speech, President Reagan announced a whole new orientation for U.S.
policy toward the Soviet Union. Parenthetically, I must say that
those who mock the Evil Empire speech probably have never read it.
I would commend it to you.
this speech, President Reagan said that force is always a last
option for the United States and that, in a case of confrontation
between nuclear superpowers, force is not even an option at all.
But he also said unequivocally that the goal of the United States'
policy toward the Soviet Union was the promotion of democracy and
human rights within the Soviet Union. This was regarded as a wildly
radical proposition in 1982.
can quarrel about how we got to the events of 1989, 1990, and 1991.
There are those who claim that President Reagan's rhetorical
leadership was unrelated to those events. There are those who claim
that it was pivotal to those events. I'm more of the view that it
was pivotal to those events, but the point is that the events
occurred. The authoritarian regime within the Soviet Union and its
client states collapsed.
There have been many problems since then,
but I don't know a Member of Congress or a serious commentator on
the world stage who would trade the situation we have today for the
one that we had in 1978 when it comes to our relations with what
used to be the Soviet Union.
A Policy of Radical Democracy
did this happen? I believe it happened because the United States
practiced a policy of radical democracy when it came to the Soviet
Union, and I believe we should practice the same policy when it
comes to the People's Republic of China. Our goal with respect to
the PRC should be to create conditions under which the PRC can
evolve toward a democratic state. It is in our own national
interest to do so.
Taiwan is pivotal to that policy. If we
are ambiguous about Taiwan's status, then we are ambiguous about
Taiwan's moral standing, and we are ambiguous about our own
strategic goals. I do not believe we can afford that ambiguity.
advocate military confrontation with the PRC? Of course not. Do I
advocate any sort of bellicose policy toward the PRC? Of course
not. But I would suggest that any trade decision, any diplomatic
decision, any decision that has global scope should be made with
the objective of promoting the conditions that would lead to the
evolution of a democratic state in that area of the world.
There are two specific signals I think the
United States should send with respect to Taiwan and its role in
first is the vigorous advocacy for Taiwan to be represented in the
World Health Organization (WHO). There is a very practical reason
for this that did not exist even a year ago: It is called SARS. How
much more limited would the effect of SARS have been if Taiwan's
government had been fully engaged in the work of the World Health
Organization? As a practical matter, it was foolish to maintain
that exclusion. As a matter of principle, it was morally bankrupt
to maintain that exclusion. I believe the United States should
advocate for Taiwan's inclusion in the WHO and other international
Second, I think that our half-a-loaf
policy toward the sale of defensive weaponry to Taiwan is a
mistake. I commend the Bush Administration for its decision--made
about 18 months ago--to transfer some radar defensive technology to
the Taiwanese. I believe it did not go far enough. I believe that
the Aegis radar technology, which is a defensive technology and
quite relevant given the military situation in that area of the
world, is the appropriate technology that should be transferred to
the government of Taiwan.
These will be provocative acts. They
represent a very different approach to this problem than we've
heard for the past 24 years in this country.
President Reagan's speech in the House of Commons represented a
very different approach to what we had heard about the Soviet
Union, and today there is no Soviet Union. There are many problems
in that area of the world, but there is much promise and much
potential because we stood as radical democrats. That's what we
need to do again.
The Choice Before Us
people of Taiwan stand every day as radical democrats in their
lives, in their work, in the conduct of their diplomacy and their
governance. I believe we should follow their lead, not simply
because it's the right thing to do to support the moral standing of
these fine people but because it is in our strategic interest.
America is more secure when we are surrounded by democracies.
Given the certainty of the evolution of
the People's Republic of China as a major force in world affairs,
we have a choice. We can be ambiguous and watch that evolution take
place, perhaps toward a bellicose adversary that will recreate the
Cold War of the 1950s and 1960s or something worse, or we can
create conditions under which that evolution takes place in a very
different way toward a democratic, capitalist trading partner of
the United States.
choice that we will face in the next 25 years is the choice that
the people of Taiwan face every single day. We should cast our lot
with those who practice democracy, with those who don't simply
acknowledge American values but who live them. And we should take a
lesson from our own values and our own friends and live them in our
policy with respect to Taiwan.
The Honorable Robert E.
Andrews (D-NJ) is a member of the House Select Committee on
Homeland Security, its Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Science, and
Research and Development, and its Subcommittee on Intelligence and
Counterterrorism. He is also a member of the House Committee on
Education and the Workforce, a member of its Subcommittee on 21st
Century Competitiveness, and ranking minority member of its
Subcommittee on Employer-Employee Relations.
STEVE CHABOT: Just 10 days ago, on September 6, 150,000
people marched in the streets of Taipei--in the largest
demonstration Taipei has ever seen--to demand that government
agencies, companies, and private institutions which use "China" in
their names replace it with "Taiwan." I don't want to prejudice the
issue one way or the other, but I personally see nothing wrong with
those sentiments. In fact, I think they are a healthy reminder of
what's at stake in Taiwan.
First, let me say that America's interests
are my uppermost concern--not just our strategic and economic
interests, but, even more important, our interests in protecting
and promoting our values as a nation. Those values include
democracy, representative government, the rule of law, free
markets, and a people's sovereignty over their own nation. These
are values that Taiwan's people share with Americans, and it does
America no good to avert its eyes when totalitarian states threaten
democracies that share our values.
Erosion of American Interests in
the past several years, I'm afraid I have seen America's interests
in Taiwan eroded by a thoughtless reverence for the shibboleth of
"one China." Too many Americans--even high government
officials--seem to think that one China somehow means that the
United States accepts that democratic Taiwan is a part of communist
hit home with me last year, in July of 2002, when I was in China
with the House Asia Subcommittee and we had a chance to visit
China's National Defense University, which is the major training
academy for China's military strategists and thinkers. During our
visit, we had pretty frank discussions with Chinese army generals,
in which Taiwan came up repeatedly.
thrust of their position was that Taiwan's separation from China in
1949 was somehow akin to the American Civil War. They pointed to
the Chinese Civil War, and they tried to justify Beijing's claim to
sovereignty over Taiwan and declared China had a right to use force
to bring Taiwan under Beijing's control. They were convinced of the
legitimacy of the use of force against Taiwan, a legitimacy that
was based on their sovereignty over the island. And they
thought--because the United States had a one-China policy--that we
agreed with their argument.
explained that Beijing's differences with Taipei should be resolved
through diplomacy and through discussions rather than any sort of
military action or threat of any type of hostility. I emphasized
over and over again that the United States Congress, in particular,
had a strong commitment to stand with Taiwan, and I tried to send a
clear message to China that--as President Bush has said very
clearly--we will "do whatever it takes" to help Taiwan defend
course, I said I fervently hoped it wouldn't come to that. Our
delegation also hoped that, by making it clear to China that we
will stand with Taiwan, that day will never come.
in the year since then, China's military buildup continues. If the
annual reports our committee gets from the Pentagon are
accurate--and I have every confidence that they are--the Chinese
People's Liberation Army is amassing an armed force that will be
able to launch operations against Taiwan in a matter of years.
Already China has deployed a force of 450 short-range ballistic
missiles targeted against Taiwan, and that number is increasing at
a rate of 75 missiles a year.
Does "One China" Encourage China's War
others, I hope the Chinese military expansion is just intimidation
and bluster, but I fear that it is not. And I am coming to a
horrifying realization that Washington's one-China policy may
actually be encouraging China in its threats of war.
"How?" you ask. Because Chinese leaders
think America already agrees that Taiwan is part of China, and they
think that America opposes Taiwan's independence.
the Chinese, that is half the battle. If the United States
considers Taiwan as part of China, if the United States opposes
Taiwan independence, then the United States must, ipso facto,
recognize the sovereign right of China to use force to effect the
unification of Taiwan with China.
me spell this out a bit more. In October of 1976, Secretary of
State Henry Kissinger asked his top China hands, "If Taiwan is
recognized by us as part of China, then it may become irresistible
to them. Our saying we want a peaceful solution has no force: it is
Chinese territory. What are we going to do about it?" Indeed, that
is the conundrum today.
Arthur Hummel, at the time the State
Department's senior China hand (and later ambassador to Beijing),
responded very logically to Kissinger's anxieties. "Down the road,"
Hummel said, "perhaps the only solution would be an independent
Taiwan." Hummel and Kissinger both understood the nuance of one
China and why it is dangerous to grant formal recognition of
the time--October 1976--everyone in the State Department understood
what America's position on the Taiwan issue was: The United States
did not, and does not, recognize China's claim to Taiwan. This was
clear at the time of our normalization with China in 1979, when we
"acknowledged the Chinese position that Taiwan is part of China."
But immediately after that, then-Deputy Secretary of State Warren
Christopher assured the U.S. Senate, "That is not our position."
And in 1982, President Ronald Reagan gave the so-called Six
Assurances to Taiwan's president. The Fifth Assurance was that "the
United States has not changed its long-standing position on the
matter of sovereignty over Taiwan."
what was that "long-standing" position? As the State Department
wrote in a letter to Senator John East in September of 1982, "The
United States takes no position on the question of Taiwan's
sovereignty." That being the case, it is clear to me--and it should
be clear to the Administration--that while America might recognize
one China, one China does not include Taiwan.
Taiwan Independence: Fact or Fiction?
is an incontrovertible fact that the United States treats Taiwan as
an independent country. We deal with Taiwan economically,
militarily, strategically, politically, diplomatically,
commercially, and in every other way as separate from China.
isn't odd. There is no country on Earth that treats Taiwan as
though it were a part of China. Not even China treats Taiwan as if
it were part of China--for the obvious reason that there is no
People's Republic of China governmental, military, economic, or
commercial presence in Taiwan and never has been.
may be impolite to say so, but "one China" is a fiction--and a
dangerous fiction--that most of the international community has
bought into in order to mollify China. But ask yourself what sort
of a country, much less a major world power, threatens war--even
nuclear war--over a fiction?
February of 2000, when China again threatened Taiwan with armed
invasion, President Bill Clinton responded by stating firmly that
the United States "will continue to reject the use of force as a
means to resolve the Taiwan question. We will also continue to make
absolutely clear that the issues between Beijing and Taiwan must be
resolved peacefully and with the assent of the people of
seems to me that if "Taiwan independence" has the assent of the
people of Taiwan, then it's not a fiction. And if Taiwan's
president says, "Taiwan is an independent, sovereign state, with
the `Republic of China' on this side and the `People's Republic of
China' on that side--one side, one country," that's also no
tell you what it is: It's an inconvenient truth. Woe betide the
political leaders of the United States if they willfully reject the
truth simply because it's inconvenient.
I hear rumors that President George W. Bush is opposed to Taiwan
independence, I dismiss them because I know the President doesn't
have any philosophical problem with an independent Taiwan. The
President and his top foreign policy aides constantly refer to
Taiwan as a "country" and sometimes even make the mistake of
calling it "the Republic of Taiwan."
is understandable because Taiwan is not a fiction. Moreover,
according to the United States Code--by statute--Taiwan is
considered an independent country for the purposes of U.S. law. There is no
metaphysical problem anywhere in the U.S. government with an
there is opposition to Taiwan independence in the Administration or
in the Congress, it is solely because China threatens to go to war
with Taiwan if Taiwan declares independence, and American leaders
know that if there is a war, the United States will help defend
Taiwan and that war will be a costly one.
Does "One China" Make War Less
does our one-China policy make war less likely? I can't see that it
does. In 1938, Britain and France had a virtual "one-Germany"
policy which recognized Hitler's claims to the Sudetenland, and
Franco-British appeasement on the issue led to Hitler's occupation
of Czechoslovakia and ultimately to World War II in Europe.
recently, in 1990, the U.S. seemed to follow a "one-Arab" policy.
On July 25, the American ambassador in Baghdad told Saddam Hussein,
"We take no position in territorial disputes between Arabs, like
your border disagreement with Kuwait; our only interest is that
they be resolved peacefully." As you all know, the "border
disagreement with Kuwait" was that Saddam Hussein claimed Kuwait as
Iraq's 19th province. The American ambassador's assurance that the
United States didn't take any position on the issue only encouraged
Saddam to believe that America wouldn't intervene in Iraq's armed
invasion of Kuwait.
do we have a one-China policy that gives Beijing's leaders the same
impression that Saddam had in 1990? The simple answer is that,
during the Cold War, the United States saw China as an invaluable
ally against the expansion of the Soviet Union, and for two
decades, China was a useful partner. China, for its part, set aside
its complaints about Taiwan in order to stabilize ties with
the Soviet Union is long gone, and with it, the grand organizing
principle of the strategic partnership between the U.S. and China
has also disappeared. Now the rising hegemonic power in Asia is
China. Let's face it: China is a militarily powerful dictatorship.
It has an expanding economy, which, by the way, relies on free
access to America's markets in order to grow.
there is no reason, either strategically or economically or
morally, why the United States should be timid in the face of
China's threats to go to war over Taiwan. China relies on the
United States, not the other way around, and as the world's
preeminent power, we must not tolerate China's threats.
Would the United States tolerate China's
threats of war if Korea did not unify with China? Taiwan is an even
bigger market for U.S. exports than South Korea, yet we would never
put up with a Chinese demand for suzerainty over Korea. And what
about Japan or Southeast Asia? In the 1960s, Chinese revolutionary
movements flourished in the region, but we always sided with the
independent democracies of Asia against the Chinese
dictatorship--except in the case of Taiwan.
the Cold War over, the Soviet Union extinct, and post-Tiananmen
China tightening, not relaxing, its grip on the political, civil,
and religious rights of its people, I do not see that humoring
China on the Taiwan issue serves America's interests any longer.
China is no longer a valued ally against the expansionary,
totalitarian Soviet empire. In fact, China itself is a totalitarian
state, and by threatening war against a prosperous, dynamic, and
militarily potent democracy, China certainly gives the impression
of being expansionistic.
may ask, "What do you do if China goes to war over Taiwan?" I would
answer: "whatever it takes" to defend a democracy against tyranny.
I would do it for Korea, for Japan, for the Philippines. It cannot
be in America's interests to cede Taiwan, rhetorically or
otherwise, to dictatorial China.
want to abandon the one-China policy? I answer that so long as one
China is not understood to mean that Taiwan is part of China, then
I have no problem with it. But if carelessness or inattention to
nuance or force of habit leads America's political leaders to the
mistaken conclusion that Taiwan is part of China, then "one China"
must be done away with.
United States must declare that, while we do not support Taiwan
independence, neither do we have any philosophical problem with it.
If that is what the people of Taiwan want, they have every right to
have it. After all, the sovereignty over Taiwan doesn't rest in
Beijing or in Taipei, but with Taiwan's people.
The Honorable Steve Chabot (R-OH) is member of
the House Committee on the Judiciary; a member of its Subcommittee
on Commercial and Administrative Law and Subcommittee on Crime,
Terrorism, and Homeland Security; and chairman of its Subcommittee
on the Constitution. He is also a member of the House Committee on
International Relations and its Subcommittee on Asia and the
Pacific and Subcommittee on the Middle East and Central