Max Hirsch over at the Taipei Times alerted me to this great article by AP reporter Foster Klug on Taiwan’s lack of diplomatic recognition in the US.

Taiwan is a major U.S. trading partner and a like-minded liberal democracy. But its representatives are prevented from enjoying the diplomatic prestige accorded even U.S. adversaries — such as Syria and Sudan — that maintain embassies in Washington.

“It frustrates us sometimes, because even though we function like a real embassy and I function like a real ambassador, I’m subject to different kinds of restrictions,” Wu said in a recent interview.

The United States follows a “one China” policy that recognizes there is a single China and that self-ruled Taiwan is part of it. But Washington still encourages the sale of defensive weapons to Taiwan, and, in 2002, President Bush pledged to “help Taiwan defend itself if provoked.”

Taiwanese diplomats working in the U.S. capital are constrained by internal U.S. guidelines laid out in 1979, when Washington switched its diplomatic allegiance from Taipei to Beijing. These guidelines are meant to allow for continued U.S. support of Taiwan, while appeasing China.

Many in Congress champion a lifting of the restrictions. But the Bush administration is wary of offending China, a growing economic and military power and a veto-wielding member of the U.N. Security Council.

Observe what’s not here, the pro forma pro-Beijing formulas: “China and Taiwan split in 1949,” “the renegade province,” and so on. Just good clean facts, for the most part. I wonder how Klug came to understand that US policy is that Taiwan is part of China. That has never been stated by the US, and US policy is that the status of Taiwan is unresolved, although the State Department appears to think Taiwan should be ruled by Beijing. But that is the unofficial rendering of the One China policy it alone follows.

Meanwhile, Taiwan is urging our neighbors to the north to adopt a more liberal approach to visits by top Taiwanese leaders.

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) has urged Canada to re-examine and hopefully remove its restrictions on visits by Taiwan’s high-level officials.

Chen made the call while meeting a delegation of Canadian lawmakers at the Presidential Office yesterday morning.

As Taiwan is Canada’s seventh-largest source of tourists, Chen said he hoped Ottawa would consider offering visa-free privileges to Taiwanese visitors.

Canada also ranks fourth on the list of favorite countries for advanced study for Taiwanese students. There are about 15,000 Taiwanese studying in Canada, a number that has increased by about 2,500 per year.

A breakthrough on high-level visits with a major nation like Canada would be wonderful. And it would offer the basis for an alternative foreign policy, one not based on recognition, but based on whether or not a particular nation permits Taiwan’s democratic leaders to pay it a visit.