More on the US position toward Taiwan’s sovereignty, from Bill Geertz at the Washington Times…

Inside the Ring
Bill Gertz
Thursday, June 26, 2008

Questioning one China

The Bush administration has backed away from China’s position on Taiwan by declaring in a diplomatic note to the United Nations that the issue of Taiwan’s sovereignty remains unsettled and effectively stating that the island is not under Chinese sovereignty, as Beijing insists.

A copy of the diplomatic note, from August, was obtained by the Heritage Foundation, and its disclosure is likely to upset China’s government, which regards U.S. support for Taiwan as the most sensitive issue in U.S.-China relations.

Administration diplomats and other U.S. officials who engage China are under constant pressure from Beijing to adhere to the so-called “one China policy” that in China’s view implies formal U.S. recognition that democratic Taiwan is in reality under the sovereignty of communist China, like former colonies Hong Kong and Macao.

The State Department, however, quietly challenged that policy in the summer of 2007 when it privately notified senior United Nations officials that “If the U.N. Secretariat insists on describing Taiwan as a part of the [Peoples Republic of China], or on using nomenclature for Taiwan that implies such status, the United States will be obliged to disassociate itself on a national basis from such position.”

Heritage China specialist John J. Tkacik, a former State Department official, said the diplomatic note was triggered by concerns that U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was undermining important U.S. trade and other relations with Taiwan by tilting toward Beijing’s view of Taiwan.

Mr. Ban stated in March 2007 that the world body considered Taiwan “an integral part” of China. It was the first time any U.N. secretary general had spoken of Taiwan’s status since 1971, when Taiwan was expelled and replaced by mainland officials.

Since 1971, the United States and many allies have withheld formal acceptance of China’s claims to own Taiwan. However, under Chinese pressure, U.S. diplomats delicately have sought to placate the Chinese by pledging support for “one China.” At Foggy Bottom, department officials even call it “our one China policy,” which even senior diplomats admit remains undefined but is clearly not Beijing’s version.

Mr. Tkacik says he thinks the belated clarification note may be too late. “For six years, the Bush Administration has given Taiwan’s voters the impression that America actually wants their democracy to submit to communist China’s demands,” he said.

While Taiwan, under newly elected President Ma Ying-jeou, is moving toward closer ties with the mainland, the Bush administration appears to be working at cross purposes internally on Taiwan.

“The Bush administration discourages Taiwan from relying on the U.S. to strengthen Taiwan’s defenses as it engages in negotiations with Beijing about the island’s future,” Mr. Tkacik said.

For example, the White House recently halted sales to Taiwan worth about $12 billion in new arms procurement, to avoid upsetting Beijing.

“How the United States defends democratic Taiwan’s international identity in the current environment will tell Asia and the world much about Washington’s willingness to stand against the broader challenge from China,” Mr. Tkacik said, noting, however, that Taiwan’s new president “will be left to bargain with Beijing with little material or moral support from the Bush administration.”

The Bush Administration’s policy of appeasement — and I use the word advisedly — has resulted in incalculable damage to both Taiwan and the US. AP offered us a lighter moment with a report that China said Japan would benefit from letting China annex Taiwan:

Beijing’s top official on Taiwanese issues was quoted as telling visiting Japanese member of parliament Otohiko Endo that unification with Taiwan would bring advantages to Tokyo.

The only benefit I can see to Japan would be having Beijing finally shut up about annexing Taiwan.