In the recent Pentagon report about China’s military Taiwan is shown as not part of China. What does it mean? You tell me!

Therese Shaheen has an excellent commentary in the Wall Street Journal on Taiwan, the Bush Administration and Burma.

The Bush Administration prefers to believe that the problem lies with President Chen, an outspoken advocate for Taiwanese self-determination. But reality is more complex than the U.S. wants to acknowledge. There is growing consensus across the political spectrum in Taiwan the U.S. no longer views Taiwan’s democracy as a sine qua non in the three-way relationship between the U.S., Taiwan and China.

Even Taiwan’s opposition parties are taking up the banner for U.N. membership. The Kuomintang party’s referendum would permit the public to vote on “the Republic of China” entering the U.N. Presumably, between the two “opposing” referenda, a vast majority of the Taiwan people will have the chance to express their desire to join the U.N. — precisely what the U.S. believes it cannot support.

The Bush Administration seems to believe that Mr. Chen’s departure from office next year will lead to some settling back into the status quo that existed for the first two decades after Washington switched its recognition of China from Taipei to Beijing. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Thomas Christensen told an audience in Maryland last month that President Chen’s decision to frame the issue as a matter for “Taiwan” and not “the Republic of China,” “appears to [the U.S.] to be a step intended to change the status quo.”

But what has the status quo accomplished? Current U.S. policy is to oppose Taiwan’s membership in organizations intended for so-called “state parties.” Since the U.N. does not recognize Taiwan as a “state party” and the legitimate representative of China, by definition Taiwan cannot hold membership in the U.N., according to the current policy. But stiff-arming Taipei hasn’t served to keep Taiwan’s democratic ambitions muffled. Instead, it is hampering the U.S.’s ability to serve as a beacon for emerging democracies elsewhere.

There is obvious irony in Washington’s reliance upon Beijing to press Burma’s junta to respect self-expression and political freedom even as the U.S. appears to stand side-by-side with Beijing to prevent the same outcomes from flourishing further in Taiwan. The yearning for self-expression by 23 million Taiwan citizens springs from the same human source that brought Buddhist monks flooding into the streets of Rangoon.

The Burma thing also plays up the problem with the Left and Taiwan — once again, while the Right is out there hijacking words like “democracy,” there are no commentaries like this from the Left and Dems in the US, whereas Burma has long engaged the Left’s attention. Just another negative legacy of the Chiang Kai-shek years, where Taiwan was scorned by the Left as the fake Free China. There is also still a trace of China The Socialist Utopian out there among a few nutters as well.

The Burma-Taiwan contrast is a problem for the US, but our torture-murder spree in Iraq is what makes the Bush Administration’s claims on democracy seem so totally hollow. Nor is Burma the only place where the Administration’s Taiwan stance seems a bit conflicted — see the recent developments in Kosovo, which the US has made independent over the objections of Russia, or longstanding US support for the independence of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithunia. At UPI analyst William Walker argues in an interesting piece that Burma is a problem for China too…

Taiwan is thumbing its nose, preparing to display its military might (including cruise missiles that can hit Chinese targets) with its first military parade in 16 years to celebrate next week’s national day. There are threats of military action if Taiwan acts on the suggestion by President Chen Shui-bian that Taipei should apply to join the United Nations under the name of Taiwan, a direct challenge to Beijing’s insistence on “one China.” Western military observers note with alarm China’s new chief of the general staff has just been promoted from his last job as general commanding the region facing Taiwan.

China’s investors are blithely ignoring official warnings to curtail the floods of savings going into the Shanghai stock market, and an ominous bubble is building, along with inflation spurred on to 8 percent by the surge in pork and other food prices.

And now a campaign is under way by human-rights groups and Western politicians to organize a boycott of next year’s Olympic Games in Beijing, in protest of China’s support for deeply unsavory regimes in Sudan and Myanmar. The Internet reports and grim images of the brutal clampdown of Myanmar’s Buddhist monks may have been stopped, but the horror lingers on. China is paying an increasingly high price for its client states.

A boycott of the Olympics will probably backfire — but note that human rights groups are NOT boycotting Beijing for pointing missiles at Taiwan and threatening to murder dissenters on The Island Of Dissidents in order to possess their land. Nope — it’s Sudan and Myanmar that for some reason have the right cachet. UPDATE: this last line generated some heat in the comments below. I left my apologies for it.