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(Opinion) Washington's Obsolete Taiwan Policy

2015-01-19 08:44:58       source:The Diplomat

By Michael A. Turton


January 18, 2015


"The ballots were barely stored for the 2014 local election in Taiwan when a raft of articles appeared in the U.S. media arguing that the shattering victory of the opposition pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) over the pro-China Kuomintang (KMT) presaged another round of "tensions" across the Taiwan Strait. Rising zombie-like from its grave, this line revived an old criticism of the administration of DPP President Chen Shui-bian. From 2000 to 2008, when he was in power, Chen was accused of "provoking" China and causing "tension" in the Taiwan Strait. Indeed, in many media presentations, China was often depicted as the helpless victim of DPP provocations, without any agency of its own. Poor China!


Since the military, bureaucracy, police, and legislature remained under KMT control, there was never any possibility that Chen could roll out of bed one morning and declare independence, as all knew. Instead, these unreal but constant accusations of "tension" served Beijing's desire to suppress and discredit Chen and the DPP, both on its own behalf and to help its ally, the KMT. For a variety of reasons, commentators began repeating the KMT and Beijing line that Chen Shui-bian was "provocative," especially after Chen won a second term. The U.S. government also eventually followed suit. Since one of Beijing's major strategic goals is to transfer tension from the Washington-Beijing relationship to the Washington-Taipei relationship, every official U.S. hack on Chen Shui-bian and subsequent DPP leaders since has been a strategic victory for Beijing."


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