By: William A. Stanton, Taiwan News, Contributing Writer
THE TAIWAN RELATIONS ACT CHANGED U.S. POLICY TOWARD TAIWAN
The recent 40th Anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) was an important
reminder that foreign policy changes over time to reflect a country’s changing interests and perspectives. The TRA, signed into U.S. law on April 10, 1979, was in fact a unilateral revision of U.S. policy toward Taiwan as set forth in the first two Sino-U.S. communiqués of Feb. 28, 1972 and Jan. 1, 1979. The TRA reflected the recognition that the United States, in its eagerness to establish diplomatic relations with China, had not seriously addressed what to do about the significant multifaceted U.S. interests in, and relations with, Taiwan, or the needs of U.S. citizens in Taiwan, much less the interests of the people of Taiwan.
THE THREE COMMUNIQUÉS ARE COLD WAR RELICS
In retrospect, the eagerness of President Nixon and Henry Kissinger to establish relations with China in 1971-72 was nonsensical when we consider that the chaotic Cultural Revolution which devastated China was still continuing. While Kissinger and Nixon were negotiating the communiqués, China was disorganized, very poor, and very weak. But the Vietnam War was at the forefront of Nixon’s concerns and the collapse of the Soviet Union would not occur for another two decades and so Hanoi and Moscow preoccupied Washington, and the threats that China now presents to the United States were seemingly unimaginable. So it was that President Jimmy Carter, who ironically made human rights a centerpiece of his foreign policy, would sign the 2nd Communiqué establishing U.S. diplomatic relations with the PRC, but then turn around and also sign off on the TRA.