Mike Pompeo on Taiwan’s Relation to China

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Monday November 23, by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.

In a recent interview with commentator Hugh Hewitt, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo dropped a bomb. It was simple, direct, and succinct, and it was one that has been long overdue.

When Hewitt asked Pompeo about Taiwan, Pompeo wasted no words.

He stressed how important it was “to get the language right.”

Then with no further comment, he went on to say, “Taiwan has not been a part of China.”

In that one brief statement, Pompeo blew the US’s longstanding, official, 75 year old “undecided” position on Taiwan out of the water and definitely put the US on a new track.

There was more. In doing this, Pompeo accomplished two other things.

First, he helped other nations resolve a different long-standing dilemma that they faced: the dilemma of the “one China” policy that Beijing requires if a nation does not buy into and accept the “one China” principle?

The US, like many nations, has always had a “one China” policy—it still does—but few can really spell out what that means in a practical sense.

Pompeo’s remarks cleared the air and demonstrated that there is no conflict between having such a policy and admitting that Taiwan is not part of China.

Having a “one China” policy simply means that a nation accepts that what China says is included in “one China,” is only what China believes, but their acceptance does not necessarily mean that the nations believe.

Thus, China might believe that the moon is part of “one China” and belongs to it. Other nations would agree that this is China’s belief on “one China” but it is not what they believe.

Pompeo settled that dilemma once and for all. He could easily admit the US has had a long-standing “one China” policy and that under that policy the US admits that China thinks Taiwan belongs to it.

However, since Pompeo purposely continued with: “Taiwan has not been a part of China,” other nations can follow suit and openly state the same if they choose.

What points followed? Pompeo finally pushed down the road the issue of the ambiguity of the 1952 San Francisco Peace Treaty.

To sum up, that ambiguity, the treaty states that Japan would give up Taiwan as its colony, but never states to whom it would give that colony. That question was never resolved or answered.

Of course, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) claimed Taiwan as did the Republic of China (ROC) but neither were signatories to the treaty.

The US as the chief military victor in the war with Japan governed all and has maintained its “undecided” position on Taiwan ever since.

As Pompeo’s remarks state that Taiwan is not part of China, the question of who Taiwan belongs to is still left open.

The third possibility—on that has always been there but that few mention—is that Japan could give Taiwan up to the people of Taiwan under the principle of self-determination as held by the UN and applied to most colonies after the end of World War II.

Additional conclusions would come from this. As Taiwanese in the ROC finally threw off the one-party state imposed on them by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and they democratically elected their own president and legislature in 1996, a democratic Taiwan could be named the recipient.

However, Pompeo’s remarks also indicate a necessary further step or direction on the part of Taiwan. Taiwanese cannot claim to be “China” and they certainly would need to redraw the ROC Constitution that was brought here by the KMT although amended several times, it is the one that they now operate under.

They would also need to change their nation’s official name.

The need for a new constitution is something that the Taiwanese have long considered and dealt with in a haphazard way through numerous amendments.

As for the name change, many already use the name Taiwan and that, of course, the name that the US uses in all its dealings with Taipei. The US does not use the name “ROC,” instead it has its American Institute in Taiwan, the Taiwan Relations Act, the Taiwan Travel Act, etc.

This all flows from Pompeo’s remark that for the US, “Taiwan is not part of China.”

What else can be drawn from Pompeo’s remarks? Was there more that he was suggesting or pointing to where he stated that it is important to “get the language right”?

Pompeo knows that Taiwan is a democracy and he was clearly supporting that democracy. It is a democracy that is “not part of China.”