The next U.S. president needs to reset policy toward Taiwan by allowing high-level Taiwanese officials to visit Washington, D.C., supporting a presence for Taiwan at the United Nations and including it in regional military exercises, a senior member of the U.S. House of Representatives said in an article published on Wednesday in The Diplomat online magazine.
In the article titled "Time for a U.S. Pivot on Taiwan Policy -- a critical U.S. ally has unnecessarily been left out of the mix: Taiwan," Rep. Steve Chabot, a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called on the next U.S. government to improve relations with Taiwan.
A new U.S. president will be elected in November. Barack Obama came to office in 2008 promising to improve relations with U.S. allies. "However, at times he has seemed more interested in doing the opposite: abandoning our allies, tacitly allying with our adversaries, and capitulating to the demands of the most ruthless members of the international system. The next president needs to reset these policies," Chabot wrote.
One of the key components of the Obama administration's foreign policy pivot was to reform the U.S. system of alliances in the Pacific "by increasing the military capabilities of allies and partners and building greater multilateral interoperability among them,Chabot wrote.
"While the United States has been working to increase military-to-military cooperation between Japan and South Korea, a critical ally has unnecessarily been left out of the mix: Taiwan. It is time for another pivot-- on Taiwan policy," Chabot said.
The potential for cross-strait conflict has bedeviled both Democrat and Republican presidents. "Because we have legal, moral and security commitments to the defense of Taiwan, China's growing defense budget should give the United States cause for concern," Chabot wrote.
"One of the components of the Pivot was to reassure U.S. allies that we were not leaving the region." In the event of an attack on Taipei, the U.S. would be drawn into the conflict, according to Chabot.
"Favorable shifts in the balance of power in Beijing's direction are likely to destabilize the Straits" and "could draw us into a direct conflict with China," Chabot said.
A second component of the Pivot was to "have our Asian allies act as hosts for forward-deployed forces." However, the U.S. continues to unnecessarily exclude Taiwan from the security architecture of the region, Chabot added.
The journey to a new policy on Taiwan could begin with a few steps, Chabot said, noting that one step the U.S. Congress is taking is to push forward the Taiwan Travel Act he has proposed to foster open communication between U.S. decision-makers and their Taiwanese counterparts and allow high-level Taiwanese officials, specifically the president, vice president, minister for foreign affairs, and defense minister to meet with U.S. officials in Washington, D.C.
A second step could be to provide Taiwan with a presence at the United Nations. In 1971, Taiwan was forced to give its seat up to the People's Republic of China. Since then, China has forced many countries to choose between relations with Beijing or Taipei. This has reduced Taiwan's official diplomatic relations to 22 nations, according Chabot.
Although China was willing to engage with Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou on a limited number of issues, the enthusiasm for cooperation has dissipated with the election of Tsai Ing-wen. "If one of our goals is to reassure our allies in the region, we should advocate that they have a voice and a vote in international organizations, starting with the UN," Chabot wrote.
Third, it is necessary that Taiwan be integrated into the larger regional security architecture. As it currently stands, Taiwan is out in the cold. "Plans must be developed to help improve its military effectiveness and include it in regional military exercises with our other allies," Chabot suggested.
Managing the rise of China is likely to prove the biggest geopolitical challenge the United States will face in the 21st century. "Improving our relationship with and status of Taiwan might be a good place to start," Chabot concluded.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel