Striving for Appropriate US-China-Taiwan Relations

We have to accurately understand how the triangular strategic relationship between the U.S., China and Taiwan concerns Taiwan’s security and development. Underanalyzing or overanalyzing it will endanger Taiwan’s equilibrium and stability. As Taiwan’s presidential campaign becomes increasingly heated, differences among the candidates on the question of boundaries between Taiwan and the U.S. and China have become increasingly apparent. The incumbent party has criticized the opposition party, the Kuomintang, for being suspicious of the U.S. and friendly toward China, while the opposition party has criticized the other of overflattering the U.S. and endangering Taiwan’s stability with anti-China ideas of Taiwanese independence.

Recently, KMT presidential candidate Hou Yu-ih visited the U.S., where he revealed his stance on American diplomacy and cross-strait policy. He also brought to the public’s attention how Taiwan appropriately controls the triangular relationship between the U.S., itself and China.

The U.S. is Taiwan’s most important strategic partner. While Taiwan must inevitably rely on the U.S. for security, the two have differing national interests, and the risks they can assume in matters of war and peace are different. Therefore, Taiwan must maintain be appropriately cautious with respect to the U.S. and not be too friendly nor flatter America. The correct line should be to be friendly but not overly fawning.

Being pro-American is an indispensable direction for Taiwan’s policy. However, while being pro-American, Taiwan must be appropriately vigilant about whether the U.S. is putting another country’s interests above the Republic of China’s. Moreover, Taiwan cannot follow the U.S. too closely and lose its subjectivity. With its own interests in mind, Taiwan must examine whether U.S. policy toward China and Taiwan is in line with Taiwan’s interests. We must care whether the U.S. government’s apparent support for Taiwan is real.

On the other hand, regarding Taiwan’s relationship with China, being pro-Chinese is definitely not allowed, but being strongly against China might lead to security concerns. Taiwan must maintain two kinds of balance: striving for balance in its close and distant relationships on the one hand, and keeping a certain degree of balance between the U.S. and China on the other. Taiwan cannot become a strategic pawn used to control China.

Hou Yu-ih’s words about the U.S.-China relationship during his trip to the U.S. are worth noting. He said that he would not have unrealistic expectations about Beijing’s intentions in cross-strait relations. At the same time, he told Americans that Taiwan’s peace and security concerns U.S. national interests. Of course we must strive for cross-strait peace, but it must be founded on the principle of strength. If an unfortunate conflict occurs in the Taiwan Strait, America’s national interests will also be damaged. Therefore, the U.S. government has a certain degree of political responsibility to maintain stability in the Taiwan Strait.

Resuming cross-strait dialogue and opposing Taiwan’s independence in order to maintain peace is absolutely necessary and will deeply influence stability in the Straits of Taiwan. However, we must continually strengthen Taiwan’s own power. So as not to neglect building national strength during exchanges with other countries, Taiwan must promote cross-strait dialogue and peace, yet also strengthen national security. This is the proper path for cross-strait relations.

If Taiwan is too pro-American and becomes a U.S. pawn for controlling China, cross-strait relations will be damaged. Similarly, if Taiwan relies on the U.S. and seeks independence, Taiwan will be plunged into a dangerous war. Taiwan’s incumbent and opposition parties should both be friendly to the U.S. and consolidate bilateral interests with the U.S. However, they cannot flatter the U.S. and damage Taiwan’s position and interests. At the same time, they should make peace with China while maintaining Taiwan’s security capabilities. After all, it’s difficult to be optimistic about the situation in the Straits of Taiwan, which cannot be neglected or addressed with a weak response. Whether in dealing with the U.S. or cross-strait relations, Taiwan must be pragmatic and steady and not veer to extremes.

We endorse the 1992 Consensus of the Constitution of the Republic of China and acknowledge that both sides of the strait belong to China — only our “China” is the Republic of China. We oppose Taiwan independence and also oppose “One Country, Two Systems.” We are with China but do not bend before it. As Hou proposed in his “theory of tackling tough issues,” before we negotiate with others, we must first prepare our bargaining chips and increase our strength. At the same time, we must learn a lesson from Ukraine. We must pragmatically deal with U.S.-Taiwan relations firmly in a position that prioritizes our long-term development and security. We must not let the U.S. use us, but instead, we must use the U.S.

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