On July 29, 2022, House Speaker, Ms. Nancy Pelosi, was about to make a controversial Asia trip which might trigger a Taiwan Strait Crisis if she would include the island in her itinerary. I was annoyed by many politicians (both Democrats and Republicans) and mass media urging her to visit Taiwan knowing it might cause a crisis. I decided to write the subject article after I read David Sachs’ essay published on Foreign Affairs (July 29, 2022), entitled, How to Survive the Next Taiwan Strait Crisis - Washington Must Be Ready for a Showdown with or without a Pelosi Trip. David Sachs is a research fellow at the Council for Foreign Affairs; he has written many articles about Taiwan, some with other political analysts including the Council’s Director Ryan Haas. David’s present article appearing on Pelosi’s departure day signified an urgency for presenting his analyses and suggestions to Pelosi, the Biden Administration and the general public who would be concerned with her trip and the potential Taiwan Strait crisis the trip might stir up. I felt the same urgency to write my opinions because I disagreed with many of Mr. Sachs’ analyses and suggestions on Taiwan policy though he recognized that Pelosi’s trip was ill-advised, better not to make the trip if possible. Sachs failed to point out that the bipartisan Washington establishment had been dysfunctional. Both parties had made the wrong assumptions about China and Taiwan; their anti-China stand were more driven by the dogfight between parties for selfish political interest than for the interest of the U.S. Many politicians found that it was easy to blame everything on China than admitting our failures in policies and execution and fixing them. Americans need to recognize the real problems the U.S. is facing and deal with them. No one can make the U.S. strong again simply by blaming others or stopping others to compete with the U.S.
Mr. Sachs did not question whether or not the Mainland China under the CCP government had ever changed its approach or tactics on the Taiwan issue (In time, it actually evolved from forceful to peaceful unification) although its position on ultimate unification never wavered. History showed that the two parties CCP and KMT had a love-hate relation in cycles through their century long struggle in seeking governance power and fighting the foreign invaders or interferers. At the end of WW II, KMT although backed by the U.S. lost control of the Mainland and finally retreated to Taiwan resulting in the cross-straight division but a peaceful one. For the past 70 years, both political parties had transformed significantly, with CCP abandoning the Stalin style communism, gradually embracing capitalism and following U.N. based rules to develop the mainland and with KMT (the dominating party in Taiwan till year 2000) splitting to several parties eventually facing a strong rivalry DPP party. The DPP, which is more strongly linked with Japan than to the U.S., is pushing Taiwan for independence. When Chen Shui Bien won the Presidential election in 2000, his push for independence had earned him the “trouble maker” name from President Bush Jr. If governance rotation by two parties were considered as the only success evidence for democracy, then Taiwan had learned and earned its democracy in the past two decades. Taiwan citizens gained and got used to the voting experience but unfortunately were unhappy with their election outcomes as evidenced by a traitor (Lee), a corrupt (Chen), a weak (Ma) and a liar (Tsai) as presidents. This might be a common phenomenon among Democratic systems. A well-run democracy may be a good system for allowing the citizens to regularly vote out bad governments but it is also regularly voting in incompetent political leaders who were good at using speeches as their deliverables. In contrast, the CCP party system requires (or mandates) government servants to work hard and long and rise by merits to the top leadership. With ideology constantly being transformed to meet society needs (evolving socialism), the CCP system has shown its efficiency and efficacy in nation building. Hence, only in a few decades, China has risen on par with the mighty U.S. in economy, industry, military, and various technologies including space exploration.
Sachs acknowledged that it was not a good idea for Pelosi to visit Taiwan at this time and served no useful purpose, but he still felt that the U.S. should interfere with Taiwan issue under the one China policy. (Basically a hypocrisy in U.S. one China policy) Sachs, like many hawkish Congressmen, think if Pelosi would cancel the Taiwan trip, it would embolden China to coerce Taiwan (The actual fact is that Taiwan has become economically more dependent on Mainland China than the other way around), China’s strategy had been kind to Taiwan people for the purpose of achieving a peaceful and long lasting unification. Sachs speculates that China is more willing to escalate than before when confronted and it is unwise to think Pelosi trip as a showdown. Sachs made a review of the previous Taiwan Strait crises and advised that the U.S. should only send officials to Taiwan for useful purposes not for antagonizing Mainland China. Sachs' suggestions were on the tactical level (no pondering on basic assumptions) trying to ‘interact with’ or ‘help’ Taiwan based on accepting the 'ambiguous' One China Policy. Sachs even suggested that the U.S. should continue to sell weapons to Taiwan as well as send military personnel to help train Taiwan soldiers but doing it not publicly. In this author's opinion, many of Sachs’ analyses and suggestions were illogical. His suggestion to Biden to reconsider diplomacy amounts to using more hypocritical and ambiguous interpretations of the one China policy and continuing to interfere with Taiwan’s defense affairs, to create adversary Mainland-Taiwan relations by selling arms to Taiwan, to push Taiwan to increase defense spending to improve combat capability, to help civilians to prepare for potential attack and to grow U.S. - Taiwan bilateral security cooperation.
The deterioration of U.S. - China relations of course is triggered by the rise of China. China is a strong competitor world-wide, but China is an inspiring competitor not a threatening one judging from her five thousand years of history. Whether Taiwan has become a 'perfect democracy' or not is Taiwan’s credit. Taiwan’s success will not make the U.S. great again. Whether China’s authoritarian one-party system will continue to transform to do better (perfecting one country two systems) or not is China’s own destiny. China’s success will not hinder the development of the U.S. or make her weak unless she can not face an honest challenge or fair competition. The U.S. should recognize that her past ambiguous and hypocritical Taiwan policy was only tolerated by Mainland China because she was too weak and too busy to develop herself. Now China has risen, understandably becoming more intolerant. Treating Taiwan like Ukraine and leading Taiwan to have a war with Mainland China is a cynical plot too obvious to be ignored by China. If Taiwan Strait would be engulfed in war, people killed and properties destroyed, would that make Americans live better and feel prouder? Luring Taiwan's crown jewel company, TSMC, to the U.S. would not necessarily make the U.S. semiconductor manufacturing great again but it sure would hurt Taiwan’s economy and employment. The recent semiconductor chip shortage and surplus cycle world-wide and the current hiccups in automobile production and sales have confirmed again some of the principles of world economy: The supply chain from raw materials to manufactured parts to finished final products have a natural dependency and correlation with different sectors of human resources, geographical markets, transportation systems and consumer populations. The world needs to learn how to collaborate and cooperate to gain efficiency instead of creating unhealthy competitions.
Sachs did make a correct suggestion to Biden, “to make a comprehensive review on the China and Taiwan Strait policy”, though did not comment on abandoning the hypocritical and ambiguous notion pointed out above. The U.S. must be honest in accepting competition and treating competition as inspiring energy. God had blessed America with far better resources than elsewhere, if Americans could not compete with others less privileged in this world, only themselves to blame. As the founding member of the United Nations, the U.S. has been largely the rule maker in banking, commerce, finance, trade, technologies, .... and many areas., she must accept the same rules that the rest of the world follows. The U.S. sure can survive the Pelosi (Taiwan Strait) crisis, but Washington must show real unity towards a sensible China Policy.