December 3, 2003

Kudos To Kristol and Rosett

Claudia Rosett in today's

Taiwan, home to the first Chinese democracy, has entered a stretch in which the National Security Council is preparing to outdo even the usually pro-Beijing State Department by savaging Taipei during Mr. Wen's visit next week. Taiwan has been considering a referendum next year on independence. This is objectionable to Beijing's regime, which in its entire 54-year history has never allowed a genuine national election, or referendum, on anything whatever. Word in Washington is that the NSC, eager to placate China, is now considering a shift from stated U.S. policy in which we "do not support" independence for Taiwan to a stance in which we "oppose" independence, and would condition arms sales to Taipei on the democratic government there not provoking Beijing.

These may sound like minor nuances; but in the delicate realm of diplomatic ambiguities that have allowed Taiwan's democracy to flourish, such changes would be a savage blow to Taiwan's democrats, and a sop not only to Beijing, but to dictators everywhere. The absurd hope in Washington seems to be that Beijing might reward a U.S. betrayal of Taiwan by yanking its support from North Korea and becoming a regime of slightly more tractable despots--at least for a few minutes. Don't hold your breath. The real result of offering up Taiwan to please China would be to encourage aggression against the U.S. and its allies, not just from Beijing, but from dictators worldwide who would doubtless take note.

Bill Kristol agrees that a change in our Taiwan policy would make a confrontation more, not less likely. I'm all in favor of good relations with China as a way to encourage a transition to democracy on the mainland, but not if it means caving in to the demands of dictators, to the peril of Taiwan's freedom and democracy.

Posted by dan at December 3, 2003 8:49 AM