Taiwan: a Pawn Yet to Pass the Use-By Date

Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen is nervous about the upcoming Trump’s visit to Mainland China. She’s concerned that Trump might sell Taiwan down the river in some sort of bargain between the two superpowers.

For all her long years as a crusader of Taiwan independence, Tsai is a babe in the woods in geopolitics. She fails to see what Taiwan really means to America : Not an ally or even a protectorate, but a mere tool to contain China. And America is prepared to abandon that tool if the cost of keeping it becomes unbearably high.

America forsook Taiwan in 1979 when Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to Mainland China. The empire did so out of the geopolitical imperative of winning China over to its side in the Cold War. The Taiwan Relations Act was America’s way of having the best of both worlds : Getting Mainland China on board to counter the Soviets, while continuing to keep China divided.

The level of American military commitment to Taiwan’s defence in the abrogated Sino-America Mutual Defence Act was lowered by several notches in the Taiwan Relations Act. The Taiwan Relations Act potentially requires the U.S. to intervene militarily if the PRC attacks or invades Taiwan. The act states that “the United States will make available to Taiwan such defense articles and defense services in such quantity as may be necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capabilities”.

However, the decision about the nature and quantity of defense services that America will provide to Taiwan is to be determined by the President and Congress. America’s policy has been called “strategic ambiguity” and it is designed to dissuade Taiwan from a unilateral declaration of independence, and to dissuade the PRC from unilaterally unifying Taiwan with Mainland China.

Two key aspects of the Taiwan Relations Act are worth noting : Strategic ambiguity, and America’s desire to maintain the status quo. As typical of a master-servant relationship, Uncle Sam will come to Taiwan’s defence only when it suits the master. Hence the strategic ambiguity. Thus, in the 1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis, America sent two carrier groups and numerous warships into the Taiwan Strait and adjacent area to intimidate China. The Yankees were swaggering in the strait, knowing full well that China then had no missiles powerful enough to hit cripple the carrier battle groups.

Will America do the same again if another crisis erupts? One thing is certain, American carriers and warships won’t enter the Taiwan Strait again. They will be sunk by China’s new, powerful anti-carrier missiles, faster than the Yankee sailors can swear WTF!

On its part, China has countered America’s Taiwan Relations Act with its own anti-secession law which draws clear, unequivocal Red Lines against Taiwan independence. America knows the score : China means what it says. McArthur learnt it the hard way by ignoring China’s warning not to cross the 38th parallel in the Korean War.

That’s the reason every Taiwan politician aspiring to the highest office must pass the litmus test set by America : Keeping the status quo. As in the Korean peninsula, Taiwan is most useful to the empire when the status quo is maintained : No reunification, and no declaration of Taiwan independence. Truth is America has no desire nor stomach to come to Taiwan’s defence if a Taiwanese leader crosses the Red Line and provokes an attack by Mainland China.

Whatever bargain Trump and Xi may reach in Trump’s forthcoming visit to China, Tsai can rest assured that America won’t throw Taiwan under the bus, YET. Taiwan has yet to pass the Use-by-Date to America. In the same vein, Trump can be expected to mouth adherence to the One China policy for the umpteenth time, without an iota of meaning and sincerity. If Tsai expects Trump to persuade China to abandon the Red Line on Taiwan Independence or go soft on her party DPP’s crusade to break away from China, she’ll be sorely disappointed.

More articles by:
September 24, 2018
Jonathan Cook
Hiding in Plain Sight: Why We Cannot See the System Destroying Us
Gary Leupp
All the Good News (Ignored by the Trump-Obsessed Media)
Robert Fisk
I Don’t See How a Palestinian State Can Ever Happen
Barry Brown
Pot as Political Speech
Lara Merling
Puerto Rico’s Colonial Legacy and Its Continuing Economic Troubles
Patrick Cockburn
Iraq’s Prime Ministers Come and Go, But the Stalemate Remains
William Blum
The New Iraq WMD: Russian Interference in US Elections
Julian Vigo
The UK’s Snoopers’ Charter Has Been Dealt a Serious Blow
Joseph Matten
Why Did Global Economic Performance Deteriorate in the 1970s?
Zhivko Illeieff
The Millennial Label: Distinguishing Facts from Fiction
Thomas Hon Wing Polin – Gerry Brown
Xinjiang : The New Great Game
Binoy Kampmark
Casting Kavanaugh: The Trump Supreme Court Drama
Max Wilbert
Blue Angels: the Naked Face of Empire
Weekend Edition
September 21, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Hurricane Florence and 9.7 Million Pigs
Andrew Levine
Israel’s Anti-Semitism Smear Campaign
Paul Street
Laquan McDonald is Being Tried for His Own Racist Murder
Brad Evans
What Does It Mean to Celebrate International Peace Day?
Nick Pemberton
With or Without Kavanaugh, The United States Is Anti-Choice
Jim Kavanagh
“Taxpayer Money” Threatens Medicare-for-All (And Every Other Social Program)
Jonathan Cook
Palestine: The Testbed for Trump’s Plan to Tear up the Rules-Based International Order
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Chickenhawks Have Finally Come Back Home to Roost!
David Rosen
As the Capitalist World Turns: From Empire to Imperialism to Globalization?
Jonah Raskin
Green Capitalism Rears Its Head at Global Climate Action Summit
James Munson
On Climate, the Centrists are the Deplorables
Robert Hunziker
Is Paris 2015 Already Underwater?
Arshad Khan
Will Their Ever be Justice for Rohingya Muslims?
Jill Richardson
Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Assault
Dave Clennon
A Victory for Historical Accuracy and the Peace Movement: Not One Emmy for Ken Burns and “The Vietnam War”
W. T. Whitney
US Harasses Cuba Amid Mysterious Circumstances
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
Things That Make Sports Fans Uncomfortable
George Capaccio
Iran: “Snapping Back” Sanctions and the Threat of War
Kenneth Surin
Brexit is Coming, But Which Will It Be?
Louis Proyect
Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9”: Entertaining Film, Crappy Politics
Ramzy Baroud
Why Israel Demolishes: Khan Al-Ahmar as Representation of Greater Genocide
Ben Dangl
The Zapatistas’ Dignified Rage: Revolutionary Theories and Anticapitalist Dreams of Subcommandante Marcos
Ron Jacobs
Faith, Madness, or Death
Bill Glahn
Crime Comes Knocking
Terry Heaton
Pat Robertson’s Hurricane “Miracle”
Dave Lindorff
In Montgomery County PA, It’s Often a Jury of White People
Louis Yako
From Citizens to Customers: the Corporate Customer Service Culture in America 
William Boardman
The Shame of Dianne Feinstein, the Courage of Christine Blasey Ford 
Ernie Niemi
Logging and Climate Change: Oregon is Appalachia and Timber is Our Coal
Jessicah Pierre
Nike Says “Believe in Something,” But Can It Sacrifice Something, Too?
Paul Fitzgerald - Elizabeth Gould
Weaponized Dreams? The Curious Case of Robert Moss
Olivia Alperstein
An Environmental 9/11: the EPA’s Gutting of Methane Regulations