Lunch in the afternoon: The US, Taiwan and ‘China’s aggressive behavior’

September 28, 2020
Taipei Times

Taipei Times 

Mon, Sep 28, 2020 
page 6

Lunch in the afternoon: The US, Taiwan and ‘China’s aggressive behavior’

Midday in Manhattan on Wednesday, September 16, was sunny and mild. Even with the pandemic’s “social distancing” it was a perfect day for “al fresco” dining with linen tablecloths and sidewalk potted palms outside one of New York City’s elegant restaurants.

Two members of the press, outfitted with digital SLR cameras and voice recorders, were dispatched by The Associated Press to cover a rare outdoor diplomatic meeting on one of these New York streets. American diplomat Kelly Craft, Chief of the United States Mission to the United Nations, lunched in the open air with Taiwan’s ambassador-ranked representative in New York, James Lee (李光章).

The two diplomats smiled for the cameras, spoke to their interviewer with obvious delight, not in the least annoyed by the attention. Of course, the AP did not discover the two senior diplomats lunching on a Manhattan sidewalk by accident. The encounter was set up well ahead of time by the USUN (United States Mission to the United Nations) press officer on orders from the US State Department. The USUN press officer pre-supplied the AP with pre-cleared background and insights into US policy — on an off-the-record basis.

The reporter was none other than the AP bureau chief at the UN, Edith Lederer, a highly respected 50-year veteran of breaking international news starting with the Vietnam War, the 1973 Arab-Israel War, the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan, and the beginning of the Gulf War in Kuwait, to name a few. She’s been the AP’s eyes-and-ears at the United Nations since 1998. Judging from her web-profiles, Ms. Lederer’s special interest is the America-China rivalry at the UN.

Ambassador Craft confided to Ms. Lederer that the lunch was not her idea. Rather, just after ambassador Lee arrived in New York on August 11, he phoned to invite her to lunch, and she accepted. Indeed, such is normal protocol, except that the US usually keeps office-calls by Taiwan officials very discreet; even informal meetings are low-key (and this one certainly had to be choreographed carefully with the State Department). Amb. Craft said the tete-a-tete was “a nice way for the host country to welcome [Amb. Lee] to New York, and hear about his family and experience.”

But she also hinted she agreed to meet her Taiwanese counterpart at the instruction of President Trump: “I’m looking to do the right thing by my President,” she said, “and I feel that he has sought to strengthen and deepen this bilateral relationship with Taiwan and I want to continue that on behalf of the administration.”

Ms. Lederer’s news report then made an editorial observation probably conveyed to her, through Amb. Craft, from the State Department on a not-for-attribution basis: “Warmer American relations with democratic Taiwan … appear to show how the Trump administration is willing to defy Beijing’s threats and promote an alternative to Chinese Communist Party authoritarianism.”

This echoed earlier Trump Administration hints. In a remarkable address on the centennial legacy of the “May Fourth Movement,” delivered in spoken Chinese, the President’s deputy national security advisor Matt Pottinger said: “The cliche that ‘Chinese people can’t be trusted with democracy’ was, as both P.C. Chang and Hu Shih knew, the most unpatriotic idea of all. Taiwan today is a living repudiation of that threadbare mistruth.” Last month (August 31), Assistant Secretary of State David Stilwell spoke at The Heritage Foundation: “I know many of you have witnessed Taiwan’s vibrant democracy and civil society in action. In walking the streets of Taipei, I marveled at the openness of Taiwan’s society, and the seamless integration of its democratic system with traditional Chinese civilization, Confucian values, and indigenous cultures.” Admittedly, there is still in Washington a strong sense of Taiwan’s “Chinese-ness” — but with a Taiwanese twist.

Nonetheless, the State Department now signals that China’s aggressiveness in the Taiwan Strait is pushing the United States to move away from the idea of Taiwan’s “Chinese-ness” and away from America’s “Three Communiques” commitments.

In August, the State Department formally de-classified several key documents from the “Six Assurances” file of 1982. Those papers reveal that American willingness to restrict arms sales to Taiwan was “conditioned absolutely” on China’s pursuit of a “peaceful resolution” of its differences with Taiwan. Public release of those documents a month ago also, for the first time, provided an authoritative public enumeration of President Reagan’s “Six Assurances” to Taiwan.

The publication of such historical records clearly is intended for Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s (習近平) consideration — not for Taiwan’s. They prove that for the past forty years Beijing has either deluded itself, or intentionally deceived its own people and the world, that the “Three Communiques” involved no commitment or promises or conditions to be met by China.

The Trump Administration now judges that China has no intention of keeping its side of the “peaceful resolution” bargain — in large part because, for forty years, Beijing has suffered no consequences for ignoring it. The Trump Administration wants to ratchet up the pressure.

Just hours after ambassadors Craft and Lee lunched in New York on Wednesday, US Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs Keith Krach landed in Taipei Thursday to discuss bilateral economic and trade ties. (Mr. Krach’s was the highest-level visit by a US State Department official since 1978.) Also on Thursday, Assistant Secretary Stilwell briefed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on US-Taiwan relations but abandoned talking points about Taiwanese society being “Chinese.” Instead, he opened his statement saying: “Notwithstanding China’s aggressive behavior in the region, our relationship with Taiwan stands on its own and our relationship with Taiwan is not a subset of US-China relations.”

Then, on Friday, September 18, The New York Times reported that the Trump Administration is coordinating with Congress for a new Taiwan arms package “valued in the billions” in an effort to counter China’s “aggressive behavior.” It would include long-range standoff missiles, stealth surveillance drones, anti-ship missiles, sea mines and much more.

There is a deep sense of urgency in Washington to step up defense supplies to Taiwan because of the unabated Chinese threat; a threat embodied in China’s increasing military exercises, naval incursions and daily probes by dozens of Chinese fighter and bomber aircraft sorties.

But here is the terrible reality: China doesn’t care. And China’s advanced-technology military and naval power now matches the operational strength of the US, Japan and Australia, and other nations in the Indo-Pacific.

If the Indo-Pacific democracies are to counterbalance China, Taiwan must be part of the equation — immediately, if not sooner. For this to happen, Taiwan must be part of the international community. No doubt, Ms. Craft and Mr. Lee discussed this at lunch.

John J. Tkacik, Jr. is a retired US foreign service officer who has served in Taipei and Beijing and is now director of the Future Asia Project at the International Assessment and Strategy Center.

星期專論》午後餐敘:美國、台灣與「中國侵略行為」 - 政治 - 自由時報電子報


2020/09/27 05:30

◎譚慎格(John J. Tkacik)

九月十六日星期三中午,紐約曼哈頓的天氣晴朗舒爽。即使在武漢肺炎(新型冠狀病毒病,COVID-19)大流行期間必須維持「社交距離」(social distancing),在紐約市一家高雅餐館外的亞麻桌布和人行道上的棕櫚盆栽陪襯下,這仍然是在「戶外」用餐的美好一天。


兩名配備有數位單眼相機和錄音設備的記者,被美聯社(The Associated Press)派去採訪在紐約一條街道上舉行的一次罕見的露天外交會議。擔任美國常駐聯合國代表團團長的美國外交官凱莉.克拉夫特(Kelly Craft),與台灣大使級的駐紐約台北經濟文化辦事處處長李光章,在戶外共進午餐。

美聯社老牌記者 負責採訪


這位記者不是別人,正是美聯社駐聯合國首席記者埃蒂斯.萊德蕾(Edith Lederer)。她是一位備受推崇、五十年來一直站在國際新聞最前線的新聞尖兵,舉凡越戰、一九七三年以阿戰爭(贖罪日戰爭)、蘇聯入侵阿富汗,到科威特的波斯灣戰爭開打,無役不與。自一九九八年以來,她一直是美聯社在聯合國的「耳目」(eyes-and-ears)。從網站上的個人經歷看來,萊德蕾女士的關注焦點就是美國和中國在聯合國的角力。


奉川普之命 與李處長會面



這種看法與川普政府稍早前的提示相呼應。在紀念中國「五四運動」一○一週年的一場深具意義的演說中,川普的副國家安全顧問博明(Matthew Pottinger)以流利的漢語指出:「張彭春和胡適都知道『中國人不適合民主』不過是一派胡言,是最不愛國的論調。今天的台灣就是鮮活的證據。」上個月(八月三十一日),美國國務院東亞與太平洋事務助理國務卿史達偉(David Stilwell)在華府智庫「傳統基金會」(The Heritage Foundation)發表演說:「我知道你們許多人都目睹了台灣蓬勃發展的民主制度和公民社會。在台北街頭漫步時,我驚歎於台灣社會的開放,及其民主制度與中華傳統文明、儒家價值觀和本土文化的緊密融合。」 不可否認,華盛頓仍有許多人對台灣的「中國性」(Chinese-ness)─但帶有台灣自己的特色─感受強烈。


過去40年 北京蒙蔽國際社會

今年八月,美國國務院正式解密一九八二年對台「六項保證」(Six Assurances)檔案的部分關鍵文件。這些解密電報披露,美國逐步減少對台軍售的意願「取決於」中國「和平解決」兩岸分歧的持續承諾。一個月前發表的這些解密文件,也首次權威性地公開列舉雷根總統對台灣的「六項保證」內容。



就在克拉夫特大使與李處長週三在紐約餐敘的數小時後,美國國務院主管經濟事務的國務次卿柯拉克(Keith Krach)週四抵達台北,討論美台雙邊經貿關係(柯拉克先生是一九七八年以來訪問台灣的國務院最高層級官員)。同日,助理國務卿史達偉向聯邦參議院外交委員會簡報美台關係,但已不再觸及台灣社會融合「中華傳統文明」的話題,反而開宗明義地強調:「儘管中國在印度—太平洋地區咄咄逼人,但我們與台灣的關係是獨立的,我們與台灣的關係並非附屬於美中關係之下的子集(subset)。」

接著,紐約時報在九月十八日星期五報導,川普政府正在和國會協商,準備推動一項「總值達數十億美元」的對台新軍售案,以反制中國的「侵略行為」,包括長程距外飛彈(long-range standoff missiles)、匿蹤無人偵察機、反艦飛彈及水雷等七種武器。


印太反制中國 台灣不能缺席





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