Mixed Signals on Taiwan

By Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - CommentaryJust a week ago I spoke with my good friend Russ who has lived in Taiwan for almost 33 years. We spoke at a Zoom meeting. He is now retired and his wife has a tea farm in the mountains near the town of Puli. He is fluent in Mandarin and Taiwanese languages. During our conversation, he spoke about his frustration with what can only be mixed signals coming from the U.S. news media. On the one hand, he has read that the United States said it would defend Taiwan, and at the same time would adhere to the “One China policy.” This is inconsistent in his view because it means that the U.S. government recognizes the People’s Republic of China’s sovereignty over Taiwan, which it has no control over and never did.

Taiwan has been independent from China since 1949, and more important it is a bastion of democratic rule which China most certainly is not. So the question in Russ’s mind is why doesn’t the United States officially recognize Taiwan and open an embassy in Taiwan? This is a good question, and one that the U.S. government has never fully answered. In my view, the United States should ditch the One China policy as it does NOT serve America and it most certainly does not serve Taiwan. Sadly, the U.S. government’s policy in regards to Taiwan remains vague—making the Chinese government guess whether the United States will come to the aid of Taiwan if China attacks it as stated in America’s Taiwan Relations Act. Just as equally sad is that it is an internal American law and not a defense treaty because the United States does not have official diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

It seems to be America’s policy to keep China guessing whether it will do anything or not. Problem is, what if China calls America’s bluff? This is what Russia did with Ukraine. We now see what is happening there. It was in my view one of America’s biggest diplomatic blunders and in too many ways gave Russia the green light to invade Ukraine. I think the only reason why China has not invaded Taiwan is because the Russian invasion of Ukraine has been going bad for Russia. If America wishes to truly protect Taiwan and prevent a major war in Asia, it should provide full diplomatic recognition of Taiwan, massive U.S. military aid, and even a base or two for the U.S. military to be stationed on Taiwan. This way, China will get the idea that attacking Taiwan would be folly. Under current U.S. President Joe Biden, I will not hold my breath.

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