Congressional Quarterly reports Neocons in the Administration pushed Taiwan to declare independence….

The same top Bush administration neoconservatives who leap-frogged Washington’s foreign policy establishment to topple Saddam Hussein nearly pulled off a similar coup in U.S.-China relations—creating the potential of a nuclear war over Taiwan, a top aide to former Secretary of State Colin Powell says.

Lawrence B. Wilkerson, the U.S. Army colonel who was Powell’s chief of staff through two administrations, said in little-noted remarks early last month that “neocons” in the top rungs of the administration quietly encouraged Taiwanese politicians to move toward a declaration of independence from mainland China — an act that the communist regime has repeatedly warned would provoke a military strike.

The top U.S. diplomat in Taiwan at the time, Douglas Paal, backs up Wilkerson’s account, which is being hotly disputed by key former defense officials.

Read the whole article — it is long, chimes with what little I know, and makes sense on many levels. US China policy is a mess — the State Department is busily serving Beijing, while the Neocons are lost on some anti-Communist crusade and view Taiwan largely in those terms — whether or not you believe the article. And people wonder why Chen Shui-bian so often ignores US wishes. How can he tell what they are?

While Bush publicly continued the one-China policy of his five White House predecessors, Wilkerson said, the Pentagon “neocons” took a different tack, quietly encouraging Taiwan’s pro-independence president, Chen Shui-bian.

“The Defense Department, with Feith, Cambone, Wolfowitz [and] Rumsfeld, was dispatching a person to Taiwan every week, essentially to tell the Taiwanese that the alliance was back on,” Wilkerson said, referring to pre-1970s military and diplomatic relations, “essentially to tell Chen Shui-bian, whose entire power in Taiwan rested on the independence movement, that independence was a good thing.”

Wilkerson said Powell would then dispatch his own envoy “right behind that guy, every time they sent somebody, to disabuse the entire Taiwanese national security apparatus of what they’d been told by the Defense Department.”

“This went on,” he said of the pro-independence efforts, “until George Bush weighed in and told Rumsfeld to cease and desist [and] told him multiple times to re-establish military-to-military relations with China.”

It’s a pro-forma China claim that Taiwan independence is just an artificial tool of the US and Japan to split China. If Wilkerson’s claims are even close to true — great move, Neocons — ya played right into their propaganda line. Does the air inside the Beltway have no oxygen, or what?

I’m too pissed at the stupidity and incompetence in Washington to write any more at the moment.

UPDATE: The CQ article is overblown, to say the least. See the third comment below, from someone I know to have serious Taiwan experience and expertise.