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Pan-blues seek to disrupt U.S. ties
Paul Lin
6/25/2004

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Republicans Dana Rohrabacher, co-chairman of the
Congressional Taiwan Caucus, and Jim Ryun, also a Taiwan Caucus member, introduced a joint resolution in the US Congress on May 20 calling for Taiwan to send marines to fight in Iraq. Surprisingly, this matter has drawn a strong reaction from the pan-blues, who are asking the government whether there have been any underhanded dealings. Some people have also protested in front of the offices of the American Institute in Taiwan, and even trampled the US flag.

If it hadn't been for the US Seventh Fleet patrolling the Taiwan Strait in 1950 to stop the Chinese Communist army [from attacking Taiwan], the signing of the US-Taiwan Mutual Defense Treaty in 1954 following the Korean War
and Congress passing the Taiwan Relations Act to take responsibility for Taiwan after China and the US established diplomatic relations in 1979, would Taiwan be what it is today? Would Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan and People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong have their current status? Still, this resolution has caused a storm of anti-US sentiment. Leaving aside the fact that such behavior ignores past
US assistance to Taiwan, what could be the purpose of such deliberate and calculated attempts at sowing discord between the US and Taiwan?

Some China "experts" in the US have lately behaved as if China's armed threats and attempts to aggravate cross-strait tension were new to them. They have been busy finding fault with Taiwan's legitimate resistance and democratic developments, which they say are provoking China. They have even accused Taiwan of involving the US and hinted that the US should renounce its role in protecting Taiwan.

If, therefore, Taiwan could send troops to Iraq, it would serve to strengthen the US-Taiwan military relationship and create a stronger deterrent to China, much like the relationships between the US and South Korea and between the US and Japan. While the US keeps South Korea and
Japan under its protective umbrella, South Korea and Japan help the US by sending troops to Iraq.

By sending troops to Iraq, Taiwan would manifest the sincerity of its stance on the anti-terrorism issue, placing itself in sharp contrast to China, whose idea of anti-terrorism is simply a matter of opposition to Xinjiang independence. China is constantly finding ways to obstruct the US' Iraq policy.

According to information obtained by Amnesty International, Chinese specialists sent to Guantanamo Bay to interrogate suspected Xinjiang separatists instructed the US in techniques for extracting confessions. The US imitated these methods without regard for human rights.

It will of course be difficult to have the resolution passed. Even if it were passed by Congress, it would be blocked by the White House, which would not want to anger China. This posturing, however, will still be a warning
to China not to take rash action. Who would have expected that the pan-blues would react even before China had offered a response?

Even if Rohrabacher and Ryun had never introduced the resolution, it would only be right for forward-looking experts in Taiwan to make preparations for such an eventuality. It was therefore necessary for the relevant
departments within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to arrange a symposium to solicit suggestions. Moreover, PFP Legislator Nelson Ku was also invited to present his ideas to the symposium, so it was no secret.

The politicians now doing the most to disrupt the US-Taiwan relationship are members of the PFP. With important members of the PFP sending their children to live and work in the US, this makes us wonder why, instead of wanting a closer US-Taiwan relationship, they feel that the more conflict there is, the better.

Understandably, there are of course those who start out with good intentions and an anti-war stance in the hope of sparing the sons and daughters of Taiwan from dying on the battlefield. But when compared to the losses Taiwan would sustain if it were to send troops to Iraq, there is no telling how many more lives would be lost and how much higher other losses would be if Taiwan lost US protection.

The Chinese scholar Xin Qi, with his past in the Chinese army, has said that China will "beat Taiwan to a pulp, and then rebuild her" and that missiles will mainly be aimed at the south of Taiwan, because that is where President Chen Shui-bian finds most of his support. We should remember Lien's campaign promise that conscription will be cut to three months, which aims to win over young voters. This is the same as telling China that Taiwan will be short of soldiers. What are these people thinking when it comes to the issue of preventing a Chinese invasion?

Unfortunately, it isn't even certain that the US would want Taiwanese troops in Iraq even if Taiwan were willing to send them. The US declined when Chiang Kai-shek wanted to send troops to South Korea during the Korean War. But as long as Taiwan shows its sincerity, it will have a positive effect on US-Taiwan relations. The US should be happy that Lien and Soong were not elected, because if they had been, the US would sooner or later stand to lose an ally.

Paul Lin is a commentator based in New York.

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