Posts tagged: Taiwan

Jerome Cohen on the Importance of Ted Kennedy in US-China Relations

Ted Kennedy and his family visit China in December 1977

Timing is everything and Prof. Jerome Cohen seems to have a particular knack for it. As various book reviews of Henry Kissinger’s On China revisit the role Kissinger and Nixon played in opening China, Prof. Cohen offers a different – and too often ignored – narrative of Nixon’s 1972 visit: the importance of the late Senator Ted Kennedy in pushing the U.S. into a policy of detente with China and eventual normalization of relations between the two countries.

For Cohen, who first began advising Sen. Ted Kennedy on China issues in 1966, it was neither Nixon nor Kissinger who had the courage to first push the country toward normalizing relations with China. Instead, it was Sen. Kennedy. By 1969, Kennedy had formulated a sound and forceful China policy, urging the U.S. government to seek recognition of the mainland while maintaining its commitment to protecting Taiwan. It was his speech at the inaugural meeting of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations in March 1969 that forced President Nixon to re-evaluate his own position on China. Fearful that Kennedy might win the 1972 presidential election on his increasingly popular China stance, Nixon quickly urged his National Security Adviser, Henry Kissinger, to get him to China. Kissinger’s success in planning Nixon’s February 1972 trip to China is one of the factors that caused Nixon to win the election that fall.

Cohen’s eight-page essay on his experience of advising Ted Kennedy and working with him on China offers a startling perspective on the late Senator. Best known for his domestic policy and legislation, Kennedy’s contribution to foreign policy, particularly as it pertains to China, is not often discussed. Cohen points out that even Kennedy himself failed to recognize his importance to opening China – in his own memoir, Kennedy spends less than a page discussing his involvement with China in the late 60s and early 70s.

The Late Senator Ted Kennedy

Cohen ends his essay with a more familiar Kennedy – one who understood the art of diplomacy and that politics, no matter the culture, is an important factor.  As the Carter Administration continuous hit road block after road block in dealing with China, it was Kennedy’s December 1977 trip to Beijing that altered the course and allowed the two countries to normalize relations. A year later, Carter basically adopted the Kennedy plan of recognizing the mainland as the “one China” but maintaining the policy of defense of Taiwan.

To read the full essay, click here.

Jerome Cohen’s “Ted Kennedy’s Role in Restoring Diplomatic Relations with China” is featured in NYU Journal of Legislation and Public Policy, Volume 14, Issue 2, commemorating the work of Senator Edward Kennedy

In the Aftermath of Haiti’s Earthquake: Where is China?

By , March 31, 2010

haiti_flagAlmost three months ago, the world witnessed an agonizing tragedy in Haiti: an earthquake killing hundreds of thousands and displacing millions in one of the world’s poorest countries.  Other countries were quick to respond, offering aid and assistance.  But how did the world’s emerging superpower respond?  In this informative essay, Marcy Nicks Moody examines China’s response to the Haiti earthquake, arguably China’s first chance to show the world that it is a responsible global leader.

In the Aftermath of Haiti’s Earthquake: Where is China?

By Marcy Nicks Moody

Though Haiti’s plight no longer appears above the fold of our daily newspapers, it remains one of the world’s most dire. At least 230,000 lives were lost in the earthquake of January 12. More than 300,000 people were injured, and at least 1.3 million were left homeless. This would be a catastrophe anywhere, but for a country of some 10 million, the proportion is gargantuan. More than two months following the magnitude 7.0 quake, shelter, security, and sanitation remain inadequate, and people live in camps of tents and tarpaulins, unlikely to move to more permanent dwellings any time soon.

The international community has responded to the tragedy in Haiti with laudable humanitarian assistance as well as more extended commitments to help “build [Haiti] back better,” and just today, the United Nations and United States co-hosted an International Donors Conference to mobilize support as Haiti lays the foundation for its long-term reconstruction and development. The financial resources necessary for this undertaking are huge: $11.5 billion now, $34.4 billion over the next decade, or five years to Haiti’s current GDP.

Chinese Aid Workers in Haiti

Chinese Aid Workers in Haiti

For China watchers, this conference—and, more importantly, the commitments made at it—may provide further insight into the status of China’s global influence. There has been much ado about China’s arrival on the world stage since its apparent and early exit from the nadir of the economic crisis. And over the last several months, Beijing has increasingly comported itself in such a way as to suggest that it believes in the veracity and longevity of this arrival. Largely, this has taken the form of vitriolic verbiage on issues ranging from Copenhagen to Tibet to its exchange rate. But there are better metrics for global influence than causticity. One of these is a country’s response to other countries in times of need.

Haiti is a particularly interesting case in that it is one of fewer than twenty-five countries left in the world that maintains diplomatic relations with Taiwan in lieu of the People’s Republic. Beijing’s traditional response to such countries—often poor ones in Africa and the Caribbean—has generally been a deep-pocketed charm offensive, with preferential loans and big investments. Cynical though it may sound, Haiti’s crisis could be seen as China’s opportunity to curry favor with—or extract a quid pro quo from—a country with which it would like to have diplomatic relations.

Indeed, China has already taken a number of steps to wean countries in the Caribbean and Latin America from Taiwan.

Sichuan Earthquake

Sichuan Earthquake

China is a non-borrowing member of both the Caribbean Development Bank as well as the much larger Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), meaning it provides capital but takes no money in return. Though in the latter case, IADB procurement contracts for Chinese firms was also an important motivation for joining, it was not the only one. Moreover, Chinese—in Beijing and elsewhere—understand the tragedy an earthquake can wreak better than many, or perhaps most. On May 12, 2008, a magnitude 7.5 earthquake struck Sichuan Province, killing almost 90,000, injuring 360,000, and leaving 5 million homeless. Like Haiti, poor building construction contributed to the scale of human loss. The outpouring of emotion and assistance was immense. With such a horrible tragedy in China’s recent past, one might think that China might sympathize with Haiti’s plight.

But China’s response to the Haitian earthquake has not been as generous as either of these arguments would suggest. Beijing has donated $1 million to the emergency aid efforts, and does not yet appear to have made longer term commitments. It is not among the ranks of the largest donors, which include the United States, Brazil, Canada, and the European Union. The United States, for example, immediately pledged $100 million for the relief effort, and Congress is considering an additional aid package of $2.8 billion. That said, a 125 member search-and-rescue team, medics, and aid supplies coming from China were the first to reach Haiti. The tragedy has not gone unnoticed in China.

So why has China done so little? To be sure, Beijing does not tend to view its assistance activities as ‘foreign aid,’ but rather frames them as offering help to brother or sister countries in times of need. With a quasi-colonial history of its own, China tends to avoid activities that may smack of imperialism or appear to encroach upon a country’s sovereignty. This may be why China avoids national-level coordination efforts and refrains from coordinating donor activities. However, avoiding international coordination now, which may be part of China’s reasons for remaining relatively inactive, will do Haiti no good.

Moreover, Haiti’s relatively small size and vast humanitarian tragedy, coupled with China’s phenomenal ability to execute construction and public works projects in minimal time, present an extraordinary opportunity to showcase China’s arrival and its ‘harmonious’ foreign policy, not just in Haiti or Latin America, but to the world. As Beijing continues to be roiled by the public relations disaster that is its dispute with Google, Haiti is a place in which China could do well. It might actually do some good, too.

Marcy writes about China. In 2007-08, she was a Fulbright Scholar in China, where she was also a Research Fellow with the U.S.-Asia Law Institute. She received an M.A. in East Asian Studies from Columbia University and graduated from Brown University.

The NY Times Overreacts to U.S. Arms Sales to Taiwan

By , February 2, 2010

In yesterday’s New York Times, Helene Cooper argued that the Obama Administration’s recent announcement of over $6 billion in arms sales to Taiwan shows a “new toughness” toward Beijing and perhaps even a “fundamentally new direction” in the Administration’s China policy.  But, by focusing on the arms sales, Ms. Cooper overemphasizes the event.  U.S. arms sales to Taiwan are far from novel or tough, and some may argue, periodically required under U.S. law.

Similarly, Beijing’s angry reaction was predictable.  In fact, for each prior Administration’s arms sales to Taiwan, the Chinese government has responded in much the same way: postponement of military-to-military meetings, issue formal protests with U.S. officials, and saber-rattling for the domestic consumption.  However, Beijing’s recent threat of sanctions against U.S. companies involved with the arms sales is new and serious.  But this is more a reflection of China’s growing confidence and less a reflection of a changed or “tough” U.S. policy toward China.

Why Does China Care so Much about Taiwan?  Isn’t it a Separate Country?

Nope, scrap that vision from your mind.  Taiwan is not a separate country, at least not in the eyes of the Chinese, Taiwanese or U.S. governments.   The People’s Republic of China (a.k.a. the mainland) views Taiwan (a.k.a. “The Republic of China”) as a renegade province and any relations between Taiwan and other countries is viewed as interference in the mainland’s domestic affairs.  While Taiwan has largely developed as an independent society, it agrees with the mainland’s assessment that there is only “one China.”  The Taiwanese government has never called for independence and the Kuo Min Tang party (pronounced Gwo min-dang and a.k.a. “the Nationalists” or KMT), which has ruled Taiwan for most of Taiwan’s separate existence, also espouses the view of “one China” and that eventually, the mainland and Taiwan will reunite.  The difference is who rules this reunited China.  For Taiwan, it’s the KMT; for the mainland, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

All of this stems from World War II.  After the War ended in 1945, the KMT and the CCP resumed their civil war, a civil war that was put on hold to fight the Japanese invasion from 1937 to 1945.  By 1949, the CCP’s victory was certain and the KMT government fled to the province of Taiwan to continue the Republic of China.

China DailyThus began the baffling existence of two Chinas – the communist People’s Republic of China on the mainland and the KMT’s Republic of China on Taiwan.  Each China claimed that it was the “official” and “rightful” China and the other a mere province; each forced the international community to recognize only one China – either China on the mainland or China on Taiwan – hence the birth of the “one China” policy.

The U.S. continued to ally itself with the KMT and the Republic of China, recognizing Taiwan as the official China and all but denying the existence of the mainland.  But starting in 1972, with President Richard Nixon’s historic visit to the mainland, relations between the U.S. and the PRC began to improve and in 1979, the U.S. switched recognition of China from Taiwan to the mainland.

Obama’s Arms Sales to Taiwan Is Par for the Course in U.S.-China Relations

The Obama Administration’s recent announcement of arms sales to Taiwan follows a long line of arms sales by the U.S.  Almost every president since 1978 has sold arms to Taiwan.  In fact, the U.S., under the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), is required to sell defensive arms to Taiwan.  In 1979, after changing recognition to mainland China, the U.S. did not want to leave its former ally completely open to attack or takeover.  As a result, Congress passed the TRA.

The TRA authorizes quasi-diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Taiwan.  For example, instead of having an official embassy on Taiwan, the TRA allows for the “American Institute in Taiwan.”  Additionally, and more importantly, the TRA established the U.S.’ responsibility toward Taiwan if it is threatened.  At issue here is the TRA’s requirement that the U.S. periodically sell defensive arms to Taiwan.

In announcing arms sales to Taiwan, the Obama Administration is merely following its obligations under the TRA.  green peopleAdditionally, the Obama Administration has not acquiesced to Taiwan’s request for F-16s.  During the George W. Bush Administration, Taiwan repeatedly requested the purchase of F-16s.  Similarly, Taiwan put out feelers with the Obama Administration to see if there was a possibility that they could purchase F-16s.  Again, Taiwan was told not to put in a formal request for F-16s.

The F-16s are a big issue since they are not “defensive” arms; Beijing would very much view a sale of F-16s to Taiwan as going a bit too far.  But Obama’s package to Taiwan merely includes the usual: Patriot missiles, Black Hawk helicopters, mine-hunting ships and information technology.

If the Obama Administration wanted to use the Taiwan arms sales requirement to “toughen” its stance to Beijing as the New York Times claims it has, the Administration would have acquiesced to Taiwan’s request for F-16s.  Instead, it merely sold similar arms to Taiwan that President George W. Bush sold in 2008.

This is not to say that the Obama Administration does not have a strong China policy.  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent policy speech on internet freedom was a robust critique of countries like China that censor their internet and partake in cyberhacking.  This follows President Obama’s strong and public criticism of internet censorship while in China this past November.  The New York Times would have done better to focus its argument on the Administration’s novel and forceful rhetoric on internet freedom vis-à-vis China.

Translation: China’s Global Times Responds to News of U.S. Arm Sales to Taiwan

By , December 13, 2009

China’s response to reports that the U.S. will sell arms to Taiwan has been swift, with an official response

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Jiang Yu

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Jiang Yu

coming within 24 hours of the first U.S. news articles.  As reported in the English language edition of the state-run Global Times, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu (pronounced Geeang You) not surprisingly reiterated China’s strong opposition to arm sales to Taiwan and called on the U.S. to stop its intended actions.  China’s response offers an interesting glimpse into how the government and the Party often use the media to respond to crises. 

The English language editions of China’s newspapers never tell the full story and usually are written with China’s foreign audience in mind, presenting a peaceful, soft and conciliatory China.  But if the English language editions are politically correct vis-à-vis the Western world, the Chinese language editions of the same newspapers answer to the political correctness of the Chinese market, presenting an image of China that is often bolder, stronger and less forgiving, but at the same time the victim of Western (usually U.S.) aggression.

In reporting on the proposed U.S. arm sales to Taiwan, the Global Times continued with this Jekyll and Hyde approach, providing more detail in their Chinese language edition.  Below we translate one of two (and the more interesting) articles that appeared in Friday’s Global Times.

The Global Times, an uber-nationalist newspaper, has very strong connections to the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party and at times, the CCP uses the Global Times to inform the public on the subtleties of some of their policies (see Susan Shirk, China: Fragile Superpower, p. 86-87).  Thus, the Global Times is not objective journalism; in reporting on international issues, it is communicating the views of the Party.  Because it is the mouthpiece of the Party, the article translated below shows the Chinese government’s likely response to U.S. arm sales to Taiwan, and it does not look particularly good for the U.S. if it should go forward with its plan.

 

Global Times LogoThe Experts: If the U.S. Sells Arms to Taiwan, it Must Face Strong Retaliation and Sanctions from China
The Global Times (Chinese Edition) – Click Here for original article
December 11, 2009
Translation by China Law & Policy

According to a December 9 Reuters news report, an American government official leaked publically the Obama Administration’s new plan to sell arms to Taiwan, including a plan to sell submarines and black hawk helicopters.  The American State Department as well as the Defense Department have been unwilling to discuss this news, but the media generally been stating that American arms sales to Taiwan “is now only a matter of time.”

China military expert Dai Xu [pronounced Dye Sue] believes that China must oppose arm sales to Taiwan and make those countries who sell arms to Taiwan pay a serious price.  He personally recommends that China should continue verbally protesting the U.S.’s actions and should also include some sort of substantive retaliation – an eye for an eye – sell arms to the U.S.’s latent opponents.  National Defense University Professor, Meng Yangqing [pronounced Mong Yang-ching] believes that China has never harmed the U.S.’s core interests, but America, by selling arms again to Taiwan, has harmed China’s core interests; the U.S. should not take China’s past conciliatory response [to arm sales to Taiwan] as a sign of weakness or cowardness.  This time, China should not just use strong language and diplomacy to respond, but should also conduct actions of retaliation and sanctions.

China’s People’s University Professor Jin Canrong [pronounced Gin Tsan-rung] believes that if the U.S. sells arms to Taiwan, then China should certainly seek to retaliate and sanction the U.S.  In regards to military affairs, China could cut off military relations.  For the U.S., that would be a very difficult situation.  Of the world’s six strongest militaries – the U.S., Russia, China, Europe, Japan and India – the U.S. knows’ the inside story on the Russian military, it controls the European and Japanese militaries, looks down upon the Indian military, but is the most worried about China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the U.S. most urgently wants to better understand the PLA.

The Deliverables from Obama’s Trip – US-China Joint Statement

By , November 19, 2009

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 17, 2009

U.S.-China Joint Statement

November 17, 2009

Beijing, China

At the invitation of President Hu Jintao of the People’s Republic of China, President Barack Obama of the United States of America is paying a state visit to China from November 15–18, 2009.  The Presidents held in-depth, productive and candid discussions on U.S.-China relations and other issues of mutual interest.  They highlighted the substantial progress in U.S.-China relations over the past 30 years since the establishment of diplomatic ties, and they reached agreement to advance U.S.-China relations in the new era.  President Obama will have separate meetings with Wu Bangguo, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress and Premier Wen Jiabao. President Obama also spoke with and answered questions from Chinese youth.

Continue reading 'The Deliverables from Obama’s Trip – US-China Joint Statement'»

China As a Global Superpower: Merely Aspirational or Actually Achievable?

By , October 29, 2009

The second in a series of three articles regarding China, On the Road to 2025.  Click here for Part 1.

On October 19, the Council on Foreign Relations and Project 2049 Institute cosponsored “China 2025,” a conference exploring where China may be in the next 15 to 20 years. Guest blogger Marcy Nicks Moody seeks to illuminate several of the arguments made and issues discussed, namely, domestic trends, foreign policy, and the economic outlook.

China set to rule the world?

China set to rule the world?

China Goes Global or Thinks Local?

by Marcy Nicks Moody

The second panel in last week’s “China 2025” conference covered a range of topics related to China’s foreign policy, falling under the loose rubric of “China Goes Global.” Michael A. Levi and Adam Segal, both of the Council on Foreign Relations, discussed two functional areas of Chinese foreign policy, namely climate and technology policy, while Ambassador David H. Shinn of George Washington University and Evan A. Feigenbaum of the Council on Foreign Relations addressed regional issues.

Though he was not the first to speak, Ambassador Shinn provided a useful framework for understanding not just China-Africa relations, but Chinese foreign policy-making more broadly. Three of China’s core interests in Africa, he argued, are its needs for (1) resources, (2) political support, and (3) productive commercial ties. With regard to the first of these, China has of course sought access to a range of Africa’s natural resources such as petroleum, timber, and minerals. In terms of China’s second need, though political support from African nations may not seem, on its face, as though it would be of extraordinary importance to China, Ambassador Shinn noted that four of the 53 African countries have diplomatic relations with Taiwan. For China, eliminating support of policies at odds with the “one China” policy is imperative, and Beijing spends a relatively large amount of time and effort in attempt to woo these four countries away from their current policies. Third, though Africa is not among China’s largest trading partners, China is Africa’s second largest trading partner, after the United States. And, China will likely become Africa’s largest trading partner next year, said Shinn.

Locating these three drivers of Chinese foreign policy – access to resources, political support, and an international environment conducive to economic growth – provides a useful understanding of what motivates China in its approach to the rest of the world.  Indeed, as an authoritarian government with sometimes questionable legitimacy, much of the Party-state’s justification for a continuation of its rule is now located in its abilities to increase the economic wealth of its citizens and to gain respect and exert influence internationally. Accessing the tools and conditions for economic growth as well as gaining outside political support therefore become crucial to the life of the Party-state. Though perhaps easy to ignore, the role of China’s domestic needs in its foreign policy decisions should not be underestimated.

As we seek to better understand Chinese foreign policy, its ‘go global’ policies, and their possible effects on U.S. interests, there are other myths which need to be dispelled. In their presentations on climate and technology policy, both Levi and Segal made particular note one of the idiosyncrasies of U.S. discussions and media presentations of China—that is, of the propensity for focusing on gross numbers and their Brobdingnagian dimensions. All numbers in China, both noted, are huge. But that does not necessarily make them meaningful. Segal noted, for example, that there has been an enormous increase in spending on research and development in China, but that innovation is more than simply spending. And expectations that China will become a technological superpower by 2025 are likely overblown. Similarly, China should not be viewed as eating U.S. lunch on clean-tech just because it is producing enormous quantities of solar panels, or has calls in its 11th Five Year Plan for reductions of 20 percent in energy intensity. With regard to the latter, China has created targets, not outcomes, and few, if any of these are on track to be achieved.

In sum, Adam Segal’s argument that China has embraced but will not profoundly change the global science and technology system is perhaps the most balanced view of Chinese ‘go global’ policies more generally. Many such policies and pronunciations are aspirational, but not, by 2025, achievable.

Marcy-NicksMarcy writes about China. In 2007-08, she was a Fulbright Scholar in China, where she was also a Research Fellow with the U.S.-Asia Law Institute. She received an M.A. in East Asian Studies from Columbia University and graduated from Brown University.

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