In a democratic society, voters must understand politicians’ personal, economic and political background so that their speeches and deeds can be correctly understood and interpreted. Unfortunately, today’s politicians tend to make double talks and take hypocritical actions motivated by self-interests or special lobbyists’ interest rather than genuine public interest. After nearly two and half century’s democracy in the U.S., there seem to be more young people desiring to be a career politician. Some may be motivated by a pure desire to serve the people or the country but more are motivated by the financial return, medical and retirement benefits and social status. (For example, Congressman can receive a big pension at age of 62 after only five years of service and they pay very little for medical insurance (with federal subsidy) and have access to nearly free medical services at Washington DC ( military facilities). Many young politicians are descendants of political families where they get more chances to get involved in political campaigns, to serve as interns in Congressional or government offices and likely to get scholarships to pursue political studies. Therefore, to safeguard our democracy, it is necessary to have a free media which can allow citizens to analyze and discuss politicians’ background and their true believes. This article is one such discussion about the ambitious rising star Senator Marco Rubio.
Why is Rubio picked for discussion? The answer is that Senator Rubio has earned himself the reputation as the most anti-China Senator through his zealous Congressional hearings bashing China. Since the U.S. - China relation is the most important and delicate relationship, it is important for us to understand why a Cuban descendant cares more about Taiwan (a sensitive China issue) than Cuba and whether he has a legitimate reason to be so anti-China. Rubio was born in Miami in 1971 in a Cuban family. His parents legally immigrated to the U.S. (Florida) in 1956 but his father and grandpa returned to Cuba in 1959 (Cuban Revolution 1953-59, Castro took power in 1959) then returned illegally back to Florida in 1962 and obtained legal immigrant status in 1975. This background may have planted the anti-communism ideology in young Rubio’s mind. However, the world of communism has changed for decades. As a politician, Rubio should have learned the Cuban history, Cuban Missile Crisis and U.S.-Soviet Union face down (1962), Vietnam War (1955-1975), U.S. formal recognition of China (1979), Fall of Berlin Wall (1989) and Soviet collapse (1991), Return of Hong Kong to China (1997) and restoration of U.S.-Cuba relation (July 20, 2015) in depth.
Rubio is a Republican but he worked well with his democratic colleagues in Florida. Understandably from his family background, Rubio would be against the Castro government, but it was not clear why he was so strongly against Obama’s restoration of U.S. - Cuba relation. One can not view that as his pure Republican Party position, since in all his political life prior to becoming a U.S. Senator, he was known in Florida as a ‘isle-crossing’ legislator. He became a successful Florida State Senate Speaker at a young age largely because he was often ready and easy for bipartisan compromise on many issues, even at the expense of alienating Republicans, for example, Jeff Bush, the Republican Governor of Florida. Rubio did not have powerful political mentors but he did work in the Bob Dole presidential campaign (1996) which may have influenced his political actions later related to the Taiwan issue. The retired Senator Bob Dole at age of 93 became a lobbyist for Taiwan and was instrumental in causing President-Elect (2016) Donald Trump to receive a ‘congratulatory’ phone call from Taiwan’s President Ms. Tsai. It is well known that the Taiwan governments (both anti-Mainland China and pro-independence Progressive Democratic Party and pro-Peaceful reunification KMT) have been spending significant amount of money hiring lobbyists to influence U.S. politicians, especially in the Congress, to support Taiwan’s wishes, for example on purchasing military weapons.
The U.S. has always recognized only one China (in 1979 switched from the KMT government (Republic of China) to the CCP government (PRC)) thus has preferred maintaining a status quo situation across the Taiwan Strait. The U.S. had viewed any pro-Independence party in Taiwan as trouble maker. However, the Trump Administration has in many ways deviated from traditional U.S. foreign policies and State Department guided diplomacy. The current U.S. China policy has taken an obvious shift from engagement to targeting her as a competitor. This has emboldened the Taiwan DPP to strengthen its US lobbying effort, resulting in U.S. Congressional legislation such as the Taiwan Travel Act (2016-2018 introduced to the U.S. Congress by Representative Steve Chabot and Senator Marco Rubio) and Taiwan Assurance Act (2019 H.R. 2002 introduced by Representative Michael McGaul (R TX) and S. 878 introduced by Senator Tom Cotton (R AR)). While these legislations do not bind the Administration for taking any specific action, they do seem to provide some comfort to the current pro-independence Taiwan government (DPP) which is trying to disengage in political ties and to reduce its economic dependency with Mainland China in trades and tourism. Ironically, while we oppose foreign intervention in our election system (Russian Gate) and engaging foreign entity to influence our election (Trump Impeachment), our Congress seem to openly accept foreign lobbying effort to produce legislation (not initiated by our own Administration) influencing foreign elections.
In the U.S. Senate, Marco Rubio chairs the Commerce Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard, as well as the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights and Global Women's Issues. As a Cuban descendant, Rubio has opposed normalization of US - Cuba relations. He cares about Human Rights issues in China (and Hong Kong) more than in Cuba, which is a curious question in many Chinese Americans’ minds. While without investigative proof, one cannot tie his previous relation with former Senator Bob Dole and Dole’s lobbying effort (paid by Taiwan) to his sponsored bills supporting Taiwan. However, tracking his job performance in his Senate tenure does suggest that his interest in foreign relations, especially China, has a strong correlation with his ambition to run for the U.S. Presidency. Rubio won his U.S. Senate seat from Florida with the help of Teaparty. As a young rising star in the Republican Party, he was speculated as a potential presidential candidate. Rubio was chosen to give the response speech to Obama’s 2013 State of Union Address. Rubio is a good speaker. Obama’s success in becoming the U.S. President during his first term in the Senate was to a large extent owing to his oratorical ability. This must have inspired Rubio to consider his own chance to run for the U.S. Presidency.
Rubio revealed his intention of running for the U.S. Presidency in 2014, consequently enhancing his activities in foreign affairs, for example his attention to Iran and Hong Kong. However, he failed in his 2016 presidential campaign, even lost miserably to Donald Trump in his own home State, Florida. Clearly, his oratory skill is not sufficient to fulfill his ambition. In an objective analysis, we may say that his limited global view, knowledge and experience had failed him. Rubio may have understood his weakness thus working very hard in the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee; however, his choice of making TV time through bashing China on Human Rights issues and sponsoring anti-China bills forbidding China to buy or invest in US tech companies simply glossed over and missed the point that China’s effort and success in lifting poverty and improvements in human rights and China’s rapid advances in technology and would not gain him more knowledge and understanding of China’s history, political and economic system and the delicate U.S. - China mutual dependency. Therefore, Rubio has earned his reputation as the No. One China hater but with not a single ounce of deep and subtle knowledge of China. In contrast, President Trump has demonstrated his cunning tactics (with far better understanding of China than Rubio) towards China in his trade war.
The Taiwan issue is a seven decade long domestic problem in China. The overwhelming majority of people in Taiwan has the same blood, culture, language and customs as the majority of mainland Chinese. There is no use to twist the history of Taiwan on aborigines, Dutch occupation or Japanese occupation to try to separate Taiwan from China. It would be as absurd as one would claim that the American Indians should take back half of the U.S. and declare Independence or that Hawaii, California or Texas should declare independence from the U.S. If Rubio truly interested in becoming a President of the U.S., he would have to enrich himself with deeper knowledge of world affairs than just seeking TV limelight or oratory opportunities. In contrast, Trump is not a career politician as Rubio, but he has a sharp perception of his own and fast learning ability on his feet while serving as the U.S. Presidency despite of being a poor speaker and a compulsory twitter making plenty of mistakes.
The title of this article perhaps should have been entitled as, A Bit of Advice to Voters on Judging Career Politicians. Our world is very complex, especially in foreign relations. Voters must examine politicians carefully whether they have a solid understanding of world affairs or just give sensational speeches hugging activists on TV.