OPINION: No Surprise as US Opposes Referendum on Taiwanese Independence

The recent debate among US policy thinkers has barely bothered to mention what Taiwanese people want.

The News Lens
Date: 2019/02/19
By: Brian Hioe, 破土 New Bloom

Credit: Depositphotos

Republican U.S. Senators Cory Gardner, Marco Rubio, Tom Cotton, John Cornyn, and Ted Cruz recently called on Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to invite Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to speak at a session of the U.S. Congress. This would serve as a sign of U.S. support for Taiwan in spite of an officially vague American stance on Taiwan. It remains to be seen how Pelosi will respond to this call, if at all.

Yet while many in Taiwan would welcome Tsai addressing the U.S. Congress as a sign of American support in the face of Chinese threats, concerns have been raised by former American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) director Richard C. Bush, among others, regarding the possible implications of such a move. Bush argued against inviting Tsai in an article published on the Brookings Institute website,where Bush currently is a senior fellow of foreign policy and director of the Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies.

As argued by Bush and others, Tsai addressing the U.S. Congress could prove dangerously provocative of China in a manner that ultimately does not benefit Taiwan. Likewise, Bush suggests because the move to have Tsai speak in front of Congress comes from civilian Congress members, this may actually step on the toes of allies of Taiwan in the State Department and elsewhere. Moreover, according to Bush, as the push for Tsai to speak in front of Congress only comes from Republicans, it does not enjoy bipartisan support as other legislature recently supportive of Taiwan as the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act did, and so could be a risky move. Tsai speaking in front of Congress only at the behest of Republicans could alienate the Democrats whose support would also be needed for America to take stronger action in support of Taiwan in the future, then.

Bush’s article had been preceded by articles in support of a Tsai speech by former China Director for the Secretary of Defense, Joseph Bosco, former Dutch diplomat Gerrit van der Wees, and followed by articles critical of the idea from analyst J. Michael Cole, and political science professor Dennis V. Hickey. Yet as a former AIT head, Bush’s article has received the most attention, and it is clear that it has been the most influential article in terms of divided assessments on the notion of a Tsai invite to Congress; before Bush’s article, one primarily saw arguments in favor of a Tsai invite and afterward, one has primarily seen arguments against a Tsai invite.    [FULL  STORY]

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