46 years ago, the U.S. severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan for China. In hindsight, Is this a good policy?
Steven Yates: “there’s no question that we ignored and devalued the political progress and political rights of the people of Taiwan in pursuit of a hopeful or optimistic approach towards dealing with China. ”
Simone Gao:“ So do you think the U.S.-Taiwan relationship will undergo fundamental changes under President Trump?”
Steven Yates: “Yes, I do.”
Welcome to 《Zooming In》, this is Simone Gao. Every new administration does re-balancing of foreign relations of some sorts. The U.S.-China relations have been fine-tuned for decades from the Nixon era to the Obama era. Now that fine-tuning is disrupted by the Trump administration. President Trump calls for Americans to wake up from a decades-long wishful thinking about China. Will there be a reshuffle of the most important bilateral relationship in the world under Trump? How will that affect Taiwan, Communist China’s main rival, an extremely important ally of America and a friend, who felt betrayed but never left? I discussed these questions with Mr. Steven Yates who served as Deputy National Security Adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney and Idaho Republican Party Chair. Mr. Yates is the CEO of consulting firm DC International Advisory and he spent years of his life in Taiwan.
在APEC 會議上，美國副總統麥克·彭斯會見了台灣代表團的領隊張忠謀，亞太經合組織是唯一一個包括台灣的主要區域論壇。然而，由於中國的反對，台灣在歷次年度會議上，從來沒有能夠由其總統出任代表。據台灣媒體報導，彭張會是美國和台灣在APEC 會上的最高級別互動。與此同時，彭斯並未與中國國家主席習近平進行正式會談。
At the APEC meeting, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence met with Morris Chang, who is leading Taiwan’s delegation at the summit. APEC is the only major regional forum that includes Taiwan as a member. However, Taiwan has never been able to be represented by its president at the annual gathering due to opposition by China.
This is probably another blow to Xi Jinping at the APEC meeting since Beijing is super sensitive as to who is meeting the Taiwanese at an international stage. The Pence-Chang meeting is everywhere in Taiwanese media. But does Taiwan feel truly secure with this administration?
“46 years ago, the U.S. severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan for China. That left Taiwanese people feeling that Taiwan is just a piece of commodity at U.S. disposal. It can be sold for a bigger profit at any time. Do you think that will be the case with this administration?”
葉望輝（華盛頓DC國際顧問公司總裁）：「 我在臺灣經常被問到這個問題。被當作談判籌碼，人們感到非常焦慮。任何人都不想僅僅被當作一個簡單的籌碼，他們是一個民族，一個自豪的民族，一個民主國家，一個重要的經濟體，受過良好的教育，在很多很多方面與世界融爲一體，他們希望得到尊重、尊嚴和其它人們自然需求的東西。所以他們做的一切都是他們應該做的，但他們仍然感到有被出賣的風險。這種焦慮在臺灣是非常非常真切和明顯的。不幸的是，臺灣實際上曾經就有被當作談判籌碼。那時臺灣人民無權投票決定應該留在聯合國，還是按照蔣介石政府的決定，如果中華人民共和國最終贏得聯合國大會的投票，台灣人民沒有發言權決定『一個中國，一個臺灣』的政策，此政策美國20世紀70年代初可能會接受，統治他們的獨裁者否決了『一中一台』，堅持世界上只有一個中國，那『一個中國』就是中華民國。中華民國政府就會屈服於中共，我們要光復大陸，當然這個說法很荒唐。但是台灣人民已經在很多方面被出賣了。許多當權派或是傳統外交政策專家用很多好話粉飾這些出賣。我們在與中共改善關係的同時，確實忽視了臺灣人民的政治權利，低估了臺灣人民在政治上的進步。因此，我更為不滿美國對臺方略，更為不滿考慮這些方略的既定外交政策。臺灣人民有這樣的焦慮沒有錯，從可能性上講，本屆政府或任何一屆政府都有可能與中共達成又一項對臺灣不利的協議，只是有可能性，但我覺得這不太會發生，就因爲川普總統想得與大多數美國總統不同，而且他，什麼是國家主義者尚無定論，但可以肯定的一點是，如果他在臺灣（政策上）做出不必要的調整，試圖與中共達成協議，那就是軟弱。然而，川普總統不喜歡顯得軟弱，因此，他在制定策略時的個人色彩應該是讓人放心的，他不是那種樂於接受或急於做出不必要讓步的人。我認為，美國決策者們在海峽兩岸問題和臺灣問題做出的許多讓步，是美國方面不必要的軟弱。所以不允許臺灣領導人自由訪問美國這個做法，是很不美國的，有些非邦交國家的領導人是可以自由訪美的。臺灣現在是地球上唯一一個我們不準其領導人自由訪問、並與我們的人民互動的民主政體。因此，我不認爲川普總統會像此前美國其他領導人那樣容易被誘惑而做出那些讓步。他對新的世界大戰，強權衝突不感興趣。他發起聯盟並當選總統的原因之一是為了從那些大家認為美國過度參與的衝突中撤出。他批評伊拉克戰爭，對仍在進行的阿富汗戰爭也有不滿。他會這樣想，如果你執行這樣的政策， 就會增加衝突的風險。但是我認為他內心裡他是相信通過實力贏得和平。 防止與中共發生衝突的最好的辦法，就是承認現狀，但是至少，大家認為川普有可能會瘋狂到動手，再加上美國現在比以往更強。我認為他會願意通過談判避免與中共沖突。如果這一點不改變，臺灣在美中談判中就只能是受害者或者談判籌碼。但是對川普總統來說，大的棋局主要聚焦在重新平衡，重新調整美國和中共在安全、經濟和其它領域的關係。如果新的平衡如實發生了，我相信他是真心的在促成一個有序、高效、友善的中國關係。不一定是對中國共產黨，而是對中國和中國人民。所以這不是一個抗中政策。我認為川普是相信這一點的。但是我的解讀是否有誤，臺灣人民的焦慮是否正確，我們還要再看。但是就目前而言，我認為美國不會軟化其支持臺灣的立場，我認為極有可能這種支持會變的更強。」
Stephen Yates:“Well, I get this question all the time in Taiwan. There’s a massive anxiety about being treated like a bargaining chip. And no one wants to feel like they’re just that simple chip. They are a nation, a proud people, a democracy, significant economy, very well educated, integrated with the world in many, many ways, and they want to be treated with respect, dignity, and all those other things that people naturally want. So they’re doing everything that is – that they’re supposed to, and yet still feel at risk of being sold out. And so that anxiety is very, very real and pronounced in Taiwan. And, unfortunately, Taiwan has, in fact, been used as a bargaining chip. The people of Taiwan had no vote over whether they should stay in the U.N. or, as Chiang Kai-shek’s government decided out of protest, to withdraw from the U.N. when the PRC finally won the general assembly votes to enter in. They didn’t have a say in whether to advocate a one China, one Taiwan policy, which the United States was probably prepared to accept in the early 1970s. They instead were governed by a dictator that said no, there is a‘one China’ policy, and the Republic of China is that one China, and we will not concede, and we will retake the motherland. That was, of course, crazy talk. But the people of Taiwan have been sold out in a number of different ways. More establishment or traditional foreign policy experts have come up with nice phrases to try to make this sound okay, but there’s no question that we ignored and devalued the political progress and political rights of the people of Taiwan in pursuit of a hopeful or optimistic approach towards dealing with China. And so I am much more critical of the approach that has been taken, much more critical of what I see as establishment foreign policy thinking on this, and the people of Taiwan are not wrong to have that anxiety. It is clearly possible that this administration or any administration could reach yet another deal with China that would be to Taiwan’s disadvantage. That’s possible. I don’t think it’s as likely just because President Trump thinks differently than most American presidents ever do. And he – there’s some debate about what it means to be a nationalist, but one thing for sure is, if he’s making unnecessary accommodations on Taiwan to try to get a deal with China, that’s weakness. And President Trump hates to appear weak. And so there are some elements of his natural approach to policy that should be reassuring, that he’s not someone that is going to be happy with or rush into making unnecessary concessions. And I think a lot of the concessions that American policymakers have given on cross-strait issues or dealing with Taiwan generally, have been out of unnecessary weakness on the American side. So this whole idea that we can’t allow leaders of Taiwan to freely visit the United States, it’s a profoundly un-American policy. It’s also one that we have not followed consistently with other countries with whom we don’t have diplomatic relations. And Taiwan now is the only democratic society on the planet that we don’t allow leaders to come freely to our country and engage our people. So I don’t think that President Trump is as likely to be susceptible to that temptation to make those concessions as other leaders have. He’s not interested in new world wars, major power conflicts. One of the reasons he built a coalition to get elected president was to pull back somewhat from a perceived overextension of American engagement in conflicts. He was critic of the war in Iraq and somewhat a critic of the war in Afghanistan, which still goes on. And so he would be susceptible to the notion that, well, if you engage in these policies, it increases the risk of conflict, but I think that to his core he believes in peace through strength and that the best deterrence against some kind of a conflict with China is the reality, but at the very least, a perception that he’s just crazy enough to fight and that America is stronger than it’s ever been. And that, I think, is the narrative that he would like to go into negotiations with. And until that changes, Taiwan is relatively in a safe space in terms of being a victim or a bargaining chip in that kind of back and forth. But the great game for President Trump very much focuses on rebalancing, recalibrating the U.S.-China relationship on security, economic, and other areas. And if that rebalancing occurs, I think he genuinely is open to a businesslike, friendly relationship with China, not necessarily the Communist Party, but with China and the Chinese people. So it’s not an anti-China policy. And I think he believes that. So whether I’m wrong in my faith and the Taiwan people are right about their anxiety, we’ll have to see. But for now, I think it’s very low risk of the American position towards Taiwan getting weaker. I think there’s a very high likelihood of it getting stronger.”
“And you think this is an opportunity for Taiwan.”
Stephen Yates:“It is. You know, I have some sympathy for the people of Taiwan. I spent a lot – a part of my life coming and going to Taiwan. These are people who endured many decades of colonization and a dictatorship, martial law, and then through all of that, even with diplomatic isolation, still emerged with a very competitive vibrant democracy, successful economy, a good, well-meaning people who seem to have world-class food that is there to welcome any guest at any time. Clear, positive value to add to the world and its neighbors. And so I think it’s incredibly important to not just do them a favor, but honor our own values by making sure that we’re not imposing pain and restrictions on people who have chosen this good path in so many other ways. I also think it’s a very important example to all Chinese people that they at some point in their own way, if the people in Taiwan can outlive a Leninist dictatorship and martial law and organize themselves to make their national leaders have to submit to their will, well then the people in Jiangsu province can too. Guangdong province can too. And other areas of China can too, and should. And so to me that’s the other reason to make sure that the U.S. leadership and our policy reflects the value of what has happened in Taiwan.”
蕭茗（Host/Simone Gao）：「是嗎？我正要問您這個問題。 美國領導層是否重新評估了他們臺灣政策，尤其是四十六年前的那個（與在臺灣斷交的）政策，看看這個政策到底是不是一個好的決定？」
“Have they? This is what I’m gonna ask you. Has the U.S. leadership reevaluated their Taiwan policies, especially the one from 46 years ago and see if that was a good decision after all?”
Stephen Yates:“There has not been a systemic questioning or review of that, at least to my satisfaction. And there are a handful or more other experts on China that are around Washington and around the United States that have been in and out of government the way I have. And we all basically see a significant weakness in the concessions made from the Nixon-Kissinger consensus to the present. And we have felt the power of the criticisms of the Communist Party against what we do in our careers, against our ability to travel freely, and from the business community in the United States feeling as though it has to accommodate the Communist Party’s point of view if they want their businesses to be able to enjoy the benefits of this rapidly growing economy over the last several decades. And so we are a minority view. But I think that President Trump is the first opportunity to have a president that is open to practicing true realism. And true realism means seeing power and weakness for what it is. And if you truly believe in advancing your national interests and are engaged in a global competition to try to create as much advantage for your own people as you can – and I think that’s what President Trump’s policy is fundamentally – then we have an opportunity to break away from some elements of that. But you will know that that policy has finally been subjected to review when we stop using the words “one China.” Because the words “one China” is a form of communist manipulation and control. If they’re able to control the words that we use for our own policy, a policy that makes no sense in the English language, then they’re able to control our thoughts and our options and our actions. And for 50 years the Communist Party of China has been able to control American leaders’ thoughts, options, and actions with regard to dealing with China. And President Trump has not escaped that entirely, but he’s the first American leader in a generation plus to show some signs of looking in that direction and trying. And so whether it was President Trump or any other elected leader of the United States that proves an openness and a willingness to do that, I want to support that.”
蕭茗（Host/Simone Gao）：「那麼您認為在川普總統當政期間， 美臺關係會發生根本轉變嗎？」
“So do you think the U.S. Taiwan relationship will undergo fundamental changes under the Trump administration?”
Stephen Yates:“ I do. I think there’s elements of that relationship that will become more normalized, whether there is a formal diplomatic recognition is an interesting question. I think that is possible, but perhaps unlikely. But much more normalization of the defense relationship with Taiwan. Fundamentally, the Trump administration seems to believe that allies and security partners that have more independent deterrent capability of their own is a greater and more effective challenge to Chinese aggression. And so whether it’s Japan, Taiwan, other partners having greater independent deterrent capability is seen as positive. And that will feed into more of a normalized defense or security relationship with Taiwan, I believe. And you hear words along these lines coming from the current defense department. It could, and it should, lead to more normalized trade and investment relations. For far too long we’ve sort of said, well, we can’t have a bilateral investment treaty with Taiwan because the word ‘treaty’ implies statehood, and these are the verbal games that the ‘one China’ policy has been able to control the thoughts, minds, and options of American decision-makers. When they sort of sober up and wake up and they realize, oh, we can engage in a legal agreement with whatever entity we want to, and China has no control over that, then we can say, you know what, there’s opportunity for America and opportunity for Taiwan to engage in a new trade and investment relationship. And if we set high standards in that, it will help America’s negotiations with other partners in Asia and elsewhere. And so there’s an opportunity there. But it will take two to tango, as they say. It’ll take some innovation and boldness on the Taiwan leadership’s part, and it will take a willingness and an openness from the U.S. government. I think that the most important parts of the U.S. government are open to this now. So really it’s – the opportunity is there, and when Taiwan emerges from its political competition at home, maybe there will be some proposals that will be evidence of this trend being manifest.”
Nov. 24th, 2018, is the election day of the 9 in 1 elections in Taiwan. Taiwanese people will elect almost every level of their local government. It will be a democratic display for the world as well. Just as Mr. Yates said, decades of colonization, dictatorship, martial law, with diplomatic isolation up until now, have not deterred the pursuit of democracy in Taiwan. Taiwan is a touchstone for whether the Chinese people are capable of democracy after all. And that judgement is as essential to the Mainland Chinese people as it is to the Americans and the entire western world. Thanks for watching《 Zooming In》, I am Simone Gao. See you next time.
Editors：Julian Kuo Bonnie Yu Frank Lin Melodie Von York Du
Narrator: Kacey Cox
Translation：Chao Yu Greg Yang Juan Li Guiru Zhang Bin Tang
Transcription: Jess Beatty
Special Effects：Harrison Sun
Assistant producer： Bin Tang Merry Jiang
Host accessories are sponsored by Yun Boutique
New Tang Dynasty Television