A new report out from the Taiwan Policy Working Group, a joint project of the right-wing American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and Armitage International, argues that the US needs upgrade and expand its ties with Taiwan and stop enabling Beijing’s suppression of Taipei. Taiwan News describes:

The report argues that the issue is urgent now that U.S.-Taiwan relations are “dangerously drifting, ” with Beijing using diplomatic isolation and the threat of military force to pressure Taiwan into an unfavorable settlement and Taiwan reacting by forcing intractable disputes to the front of the debate.

Describing Taiwan’s democracy as a beacon to other societies seeking peaceful political liberalization, the report warns that if Taiwan is coerced by China into a settlement against the wishes of the Taiwanese people, the United States will lose a valuable international partner and suffer a severe blow to its interests and regional position.

In case readers were afflicted with doubt about whether the Bush Administration really does intend to sell Taiwan out to Beijing, the Taiwan News report summarizes:

While admitting that it will be difficult for China to accept a Taiwan with a higher international profile, the report says Washington should nevertheless end Beijing’s expectations that it can “deliver” Taiwan.

“Beijing should talk directly to Taipei about its disagreements and not pressure Washington to pressure the Taiwanese government,” the report says. “America should make clear to Beijing that it has interests in the continued freedom of the Taiwanese people to decide their own fate and the peaceful resolution of cross-strait differences.”

Reuters’ Paul Eckert observes in a short article on the issue:

The study said Communist China’s growing military power and efforts to isolate Taiwan internationally, combined with efforts by frustrated Taipei leaders to counter this isolation, have created a dangerous cycle.

The United States has responded increasingly by criticizing or pressuring Taiwan at China’s behest, but will endanger its interests in Asia if it fails to change course, warned the group

“This dynamic is not sustainable,” said the group of analysts and former U.S. government officials, led by Asia security experts Dan Blumenthal of the American Enterprise Institute and Randall Schriver of Armitage International.

“Taiwan will either cave in to pressure in ways that harm long-term U.S. interests or embark on a more dangerous course. Beijing will continue to pressure both Washington and Taipei and miscalculate that the United States has abandoned Taiwan,” said the report.

As the Taipei Times describes the report’s view, these guys could be writing my blog, calling for greater defense cooperation, more US arms sales, and enhanced ties:

They also call for more US arms sales to Taiwan and greater interoperability between the US and Taiwanese militaries to help combat a Chinese military action against Taiwan.

Citing the US refusal to sell advanced F-16 fighters to Taiwan, the report says: “Washington has thus become culpable in an eroding military balance across the Strait, sacrificing long-term interests to short-term emotion.”

Other recommendations include a free trade agreement between the two, more US arms sales to Taiwan focusing on better homeland defense cooperation, anti-submarine warfare, air and missile defense and disaster and humanitarian aid coordination.

The report urges Taiwan to boost defense spending, implement economic reforms including the opening of investment opportunities for Chinese and other foreign firms, promote Taiwanese industries’ technological and market advances in international economic relationships, export its democratic model to the rest of the world and use its public health expertise more effectively on the global scene.

Taiwan should also improve the quality of its official congressional relations staff in Washington, in view of ebbing US congressional support for Taiwan in recent years because of changes to new congressional leaders and staffers with “diminished knowledge” about Taiwan and China.

I was just blogging yesterday on the coming disaster that is Bush Administration Taiwan policy + a Ma Ying-jeou victory in the elections, and here AEI makes my exact point. It’s not too late for the Bush Administration to back the actual US ally here in the Taiwan elections, and make choices that will result in a stable East Asia whose overall strategic situation favors the US. The entire report is available in English and wisely, in Chinese as well. Good work, guys.

MEDIA NOTE: Reuters’ Paul Eckert summarizes in his article on the issue:

The United States switched diplomatic relations to the communist government in China in 1978 after decades of recognizing Taiwan. Taiwan has been ruled separately since the Nationalists fled there after losing a civil war in 1949.

China claims Taiwan as a renegade province that needs to be reunified eventually, by force if necessary. U.S. law requires Washington to provide Taiwan with armaments needed for its defense, but direct official contacts are circumscribed — often in ways seen by democratic Taiwan as demeaning.

The second paragraph is quite interesting. First, it contains an error: US law does not require Washington to provide Taiwan with armaments. That is a common but erroneous interpretation of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA). Note the first sentence of that paragraph: China claims Taiwan as a renegade province….a huge improvement over the usual China sees Taiwan…. claims is an accurate description of China’s drive to annex the island. sees, by contrast, imputes more reality to the Chinese position and a kind of reasonableness to the Chinese side. The paragraph also mentions that Taiwan is democratic, and hints that the US position sucks. Nice work….now if we could only get rid of the Taiwan has been ruled separately formula, which falsely implies that priorly Taiwan was part of China. Unfortunately Taiwan’s sovereignty issue is too complex for neat little media formulas. Readers want to suggest one?