President Bush Makes it Clear?

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Tuesday August 05, by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.

Lest one think that Ma Ying-jeou is the only problem Taiwan has in getting respect in the international community, examine the recent words of the United States President George Bush. Some have conjectured that a meeting with this man might be enough to convince the leaders of the People's Republic of China (PRC) or any totalitarian state that they would not want to risk the leadership of their country to the potential pitfalls of the results of a democratic election; regardless of that, the United States has continually and ambivalently sat on the fence as regards the status of Taiwan. Yes despite it being more than sixty years after World War II, the United States still does not know how it wants Taiwan to fit into its script. The US official position on Taiwan's status is that it is undetermined.

Bush is scheduled to attend the Olympic Games in Beijing and so his thoughts on China etc. have been sought. As you read on, remember that for the past eight years we have constantly heard the fears expressed that former Taiwan president, Chen Shui-bian, would supposedly blow the lid on the status quo of the Taiwan Strait by confirming the de facto independence of Taiwan. In eight years Chen never did so. However, in those eight years, China deployed over 800 missiles against Taiwan and constantly did all it could to belittle Taiwan internationally, but that was not considered altering the status quo. Chen was the only one branded as the "trouble maker" in this scenario.

So Bush was asked about the Chinese leadership and responded. "It's just been interesting to watch, and interesting to participate with people. I mean the Taiwan issue was a very touchy issue for a while, causing me to say in the Oval Office - that which is now well chronicled - that the United States does not support a unilateral declaration of independence. Because I wanted to make sure that our message was clear, but also that the relationship was in a way not our relationship, but other's relationship with China was in a way that it could evolve peacefully and constructively."

Later, Bush dragged in the Taiwan issue again even though he was not asked about it. "My only point to you is that - or that the Taiwan-Chinese relationship and that issue. It's a very sensitive issue for the Chinese government. And people who study this very closely will see that the issue is in a better place. And I made it abundantly clear that there was some red lines for the United States on this issue, that there would be no unilateral declaration of independence, that our policy was still the same. It's very important for the president to be very consistent."

Clear? Consistent? Am I missing something? It is vintage Bush; don't even bother to try to make it square with past history. I am sure that members of the State Department, (themselves known masters of obfuscation) must nevertheless cringe when George Bush freelances it this way. Further, when the President speaks in such a way, one has to wonder, who is he trying to convince? Why is he even doing such? Why is he off track? More important issues that he should be addressing are how he as the leader of the leading democracy in the world justifies traipsing off to the Olympics despite China's abysmal record on human rights and the Olympics being classified among other things as the Genocide Olympics. But we must remember; Chen Shui-bian is the only trouble-maker in the region.