Chris Nelson’s latest missive straight from the Beijing-dominated heart of the Washington Establishment (my comments in brackets):

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TAIWAN…we’ve noted in many Reports that while the US has tried for years to encourage a more productive Cross-Strait dialogue, in hopes of reducing tensions between China and Taiwan, there is a built-in potential contradiction.

That is, as much as the US supports the people of Taiwan and their right to international space, as a practicing democracy, the US recognizes that the bedrock of its relations with China requires agreement with the “one China” principle as it regards “Taiwan independence”. [MT -- the US position is actually that Taiwan's status is undetermined. It weasels its way between that position and kowtowing to China.]

Veritable East China Seas’ of ink have been spilled parsing the fine points of legal, diplomatic and alternative universe definitions which allow Washington, Taipei and Beijing to…if not keep the peace, exactly…avoid the disaster of war.

Now, after eight years of sometimes high tension because the US supported Taiwan’s democracy, but not always the independence-minded goals and actions of Taiwan’s democratically elected DPP government, the newly-elected KMT government is moving rapidly to consolidate a more cooperative working relationship with Beijing.[MT -- this paragraph is just plain silly, and it is silly in a terrifying way. In the first sentence note that the "tension" is cause by -- yes! -- US support for a democracy. The Washington Establishment has now completely absorbed Beijing's point of view, under which "democracy" creates tension. The reality is, as everyone knows, is that the Straits are tense because China has threatened to maim and murder Taiwanese in order to annex their island, and to kill anyone who gets in its way. Tension is caused by threats to democracy, not support of it. Yet Nelson here identifies the US with the cause of the problem!]

There are observers from the DPP side of the debate who don’t like much of what they think is going on, either openly, or behind the curtain…and you have to ask how much of their concerns will start to be echoed by some US supporters of Taiwan, either now, or next year:

The basic problem is seen as Hu and Ma’s priorities now being reversed, with Ma under far more pressure to deliver on his campaign promises because he lives in a democracy…people do “throw the bums” out when they don’t deliver, especially on economic issues.[MT -- maybe somewhere else, but not here -- we are in our 60th year of KMT control of the legislature, and so far the public has given two previous presidents both their terms. It is fascinating how often people repeat the mantra of "Taiwanese will change their leaders!" without ever looking to see if they have actually done that before.]

Per the “one China, two governments’ idea, one key to viewing all this is the Ma Administration’s willingness to fudge the meaning of the so-called “1992 consensus.” Su Chi and Ma’s formulation has always been “One china with different interpretations.”

The Chinese never say “different interpretations” because, fundamentally, this means two Chinas - one PRC and one ROC. Both Hu and Ma talk about “shelving differences” in order to go forward, and there is much support for that view in Washington.

Perhaps, DPP advocates argue. It has meant that negotiations have gone forward swiftly and, apparently, smoothly. But friends in the DPP worry that the Chinese hold on their one China principle - that sovereignty is not possible to divide up- means that the Ma folks are involved in a game of Go in which Taiwan is already surrounded even if they don’t see it yet. [MT -- this is too charitable a view of KMT plans, though I suppose Chris cannot -- yet -- openly suggest that the KMT plans to sell out Taiwan.]

One obvious area of conflict…right now…between the traditional Taiwan lobby here and both the new KMT government, and the Bush Administration, is arms sales.

If the whole goal of the Bush Administration has been to lower tensions and hope for improved dialogue Cross Strait, and if those goals are now being actively pursued by both sides…why is the US-Taiwan Business Council, led by former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, loudly demanding that a large US arms sale package be announced for the island?[MT -- duh! Because we need new weapons here. Not selling weapons to Taiwan will only serve China's interests, not ours.]

Either McCain or Obama will likely face an increasingly complex, possibly very contradictory “Taiwan lobby” next year.

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In reality, the “area of conflict” is not between the “Taiwan lobby” and the KMT government, but lies deep within US policy, which seeks to be all things to all men. The various pro- and anti-Taiwan positions simply reflect the fundamental contradictions in US policy. No doubt, though, when things get screwed up as they inevitably will, the “Taiwan Lobby” will take the blame. Because the realpoliticians who craft US policy save admissions of error for their memoirs……