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Taiwan is not a Colony or Protectorate of the United States
Bevin Chu
April 17, 2004

Executive Summary: "Taiwan... is not a colony or protectorate of the United States. The United States should... restrain itself from overly interfering in Taiwan's internal affairs." Who said that? PRC President Hu Jintao? Former ROC Vice-president Lien Chan? Would you believe Koo Kuan-min, Taiwan independence elder and National Policy Advisor to Chen Shui-bian? The giveaway was the wording. A reunificationist would have said "China's internal affairs," not "Taiwan's internal affairs." Either way, the principle remains the same. The United States should not interfere in other nations' internal affairs.

Taiwan Independence Hardliners to US: Don't Interfere in Taiwan's Affairs

Koo Kuan-min

Taiwan independence elder Koo Kuan-min

Koo's full statement, issued to the media on Taiwan after meeting with Chen Shui-bian on April 13, was:

"The United States ought to review and revise the policy that has remained unchanged for more than 30 years despite much change in the political situation in Taiwan. Let us remind the United States that Taiwan is an independent, sovereign state and that it is not a colony or protectorate of the United States. The United States should exercise self-restraint and restrain itself from overly interfering in Taiwan's internal affairs."

In case you think Koo was an isolated case, think again.

Fellow Taiwan independence hardliner Wang To-far, chairman of the radical Taiwan Association of University Professors declared:

"Taiwan is not a state of the US, and the US can't prescribe what Taiwan should do. Taiwan should take care of its own national interests."

Chang Cheng-hsiu, fellow hardliner and member of the Examination Yuan, agreed:

"As Taiwan is not a state of the US or a province of China, Chen should craft his address with a view to affirming the country's sovereignty."

Chairman of World United Formosans for Independence Ng Chiau-tong, presidential advisor Chen Lung-chu, and DPP legislator Trong Chai, known as "Cai Gong Tou" or "Referendum Cai" for his decades long push for a referendum on Taiwan independence, all demanded that the US government change its One China policy and not "excessively interfere" with Taiwan's internal affairs.

So What's the Catch?

So what's the catch? Since when has the Taiwan independence leadership not wanted the US to "interfere" on behalf of Taiwan independence?

After all, isn't persuading Uncle Sammy to "interfere" on behalf of Taiwan independence the sole justification for the Taiwan Lobby? Isn't that the reason the Taiwan Lobby squanders a fortune in ROC taxpayer money? To bribe congress to pressure the White House to use American GIs as the Taiwan independence movement's mercenary army?

Of course it is.

Doesn't the Taiwan independence leadership still expect the US Seventh Fleet to steam to the Taiwan Straits?

Of course it does.

Don't Taiwan independence hardliners still expect American GIs to do the fighting and dying in their place?

Of course they do.

So what changed?

What Changed

What changed was Taiwan independence leaders' estimate of their bargaining position. Taiwan independence leaders have arrived at the conclusion they can ignore the US government when it forbids them to take the final, fateful steps toward Taiwan independence. Taiwan independence leaders have decided they can "shine them on."

What caused them to arrive at such a surprising conclusion?

Taiwan independence leaders believe they have the US government's number, in particular the Bush administration's number, therefore they can jerk the World's Only Remaining Superpower around like a puppet.

The string by which the Taiwan independence leadership reckons it can jerk the US Hegemon around like a puppet is Sinophobia, an innocuous sounding term for primitive, irrational animosity against China and the Chinese people, generally passed off as rational ideological opposition.

Chen Shui-bian and his fellow Taiwan independence hardliners have concluded that the Bush administration's Sinophobia makes it a "slave to its animosity." They have concluded they can deliberately provoke a shooting war with Beijing, and no matter how furious the US government might be with them, it will have no choice but to intervene militarily on behalf of Taiwan independence because it is obsessed wth containing the "China Threat," slaying the Chinese dragon, stemming the "Yellow Peril."

It doesn't matter that Taiwan is small and America is big. It doesn't matter that Taiwan is weak and America is mighty. It doesn't matter that Taiwan is the tail, and America is the dog. What matters is the Taiwan tail can wag the American dog.

"Interfering" vs. "Overly Interfering"

Koo Kuan-min used the term "overly interfering." Ng Chiau-tong, Chen Lung-chu, and Trong Chai used the term "excessively interfering."

What's the difference between "interfering" and "overly interfering" or "excessively interfering?"

"Interfering" means the US will intervene militarily on behalf of Taiwan independence when mainland China attempts to prevent Taiwan's illegal and unconstitutional secession from China. "Interfering" means the US Seventh Fleet will pull the Taiwan independence hardliners' chesnuts out of the fire. "Interfering" is acceptable to Taiwan independence hardliners. "Interfering" is welcome. "Interfering" is expected. "Interfering" is a US duty.

"Overly interfering" or "excessively interfering" on the other hand, means the US government demanding veto power over when and how Taiwan moves toward independence because American fighting men, not "Taiwanese," would return home in flag-draped aluminum caskets. "Overly interfering" is unacceptable to Taiwan independence leaders. "Overly interfering," as Taiwan independence leaders have made clear, is unwelcome and gauche presumption on the part of the US. Their attitude? US leaders should not embarrass themselves by forcing Taiwan independence leaders to remind them a second time.

Paying the Piper, Calling the Tune

"Taipei... is both playing with fire and becoming dangerously distant from its sole protector, the United States... The Bush Administration... has spoken out ever more bluntly in an effort to instill realism into Taipei... Mr. Chen has not only brushed these warnings aside, he has ensured that his partisan press ignores and distorts the Administration's message so that it is never heard or read by his followers. It is becoming clear that words alone may not be enough to convince the Taiwan authorities not to jeopardize the island's future and our own."
-- Former US Ambassador Charles W. Freeman, Jr.

The Taiwan independence leadership wants to be politically independent from China, yet militarily dependent on the US Department of Defense. It wants to be independent and dependent at the same time. It wants wants to have its cake and eat it too.

The Taiwan independence leadership despises the Chinese mainland's former credo of communism, or says it does. In fact, the Taiwan independence leadership believes in free lunches. In fact the Taiwan independence leadership fails to appreciate the Chinese mainland's current credo of capitalism. If it did, it would realize that "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch" and that "He who pays the piper, calls the tune."

The US government conversely, needs to understand the full implications of that same truism. The flipside of "He who pays the piper, calls the tune" is "He who calls the tune, pays the piper." The US government insisted on calling the tune in Iraq. Now it is paying the piper, in blood.

Does the US government really want to pay the piper in Taiwan, the way it paid the piper in Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon, Somalia, and Iraq?

Take the Taiwan Independence Leadership at Its Word

How should the US government respond to the Taiwan independence leadership's newfound assertiveness and defiance?

The US government should take Taiwan independence leaders at their word. It should take Taiwan independence leaders' statements at face value. It should review and revise its three decade old China policy. It should cease treating Taiwan as a "colony or protectorate of the United States" or "a state of the US."

It should, in Koo Kuan-min's words, "exercise self-restraint and restrain itself from overly interfering in Taiwan's internal affairs."

It should, in Wang To-far's words, admit that the US government "can't prescribe what Taiwan should do" and acknowledge that "Taiwan should take care of its own national interests."

It should, in Chang Cheng-hsiu's words, begin "affirming the country's sovereignty."

The US government should, in CATO Institute Vice-president Ted Galen Carpenter's words,

"make it clear that Taiwan must incur all of the risks entailed in whatever policies it adopts. Specifically, Washington should inform Taipei that it will not become involved if an armed conflict erupts between Taiwan and the mainland over the issue of Taiwan's de facto independence."

After all, what is the flipside of "Taiwan is not a protectorate of the United States?"

Isn't it "The United States is not the protector or Taiwan?"