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 会议上，美国副总统麦克·彭斯会见了台湾代表团的领队张忠谋，亚太经合组织是唯一一个包括台湾的主要区域论坛。然而，由于中国的反对，台湾在历次年度会议上，从来没有能够由其总统出任代表。据台湾媒体报导，彭张会是美国和台湾在APEC 会上的最高级别互动。与此同时，彭斯并未与中国国家主席习近平进行正式会谈。
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?”
叶望辉（华盛顿DC国际顾问公司总裁）：“ 我在台湾经常被问到这个问题。被当作谈判筹码，人们感到非常焦虑。任何人都不想仅仅被当作一个简单的筹码，他们是一个民族，一个自豪的民族，一个民主国家，一个重要的经济体，受过良好的教育，在很多很多方面与世界融为一体，他们希望得到尊重、尊严和其它人们自然需求的东西。所以他们做的一切都是他们应该做的，但他们仍然感到有被出卖的风险。这种焦虑在台湾是非常非常真切和明显的。不幸的是，台湾实际上曾经就有被当作谈判筹码。那时台湾人民无权投票决定应该留在联合国，还是按照蒋介石政府的决定，如果中华人民共和国最终赢得联合国大会的投票，台湾人民没有发言权决定‘一个中国，一个台湾’的政策，此政策美国20世纪70年代初可能会接受，统治他们的独裁者否决了‘一中一台’，坚持世界上只有一个中国，那‘一个中国’就是中华民国。中华民国政府就会屈服于中共，我们要光复大陆，当然这个说法很荒唐。但是台湾人民已经在很多方面被出卖了。许多当权派或是传统外交政策专家用很多好话粉饰这些出卖。我们在与中共改善关系的同时，确实忽视了台湾人民的政治权利，低估了台湾人民在政治上的进步。因此，我更为不满美国对台方略，更为不满考虑这些方略的既定外交政策。台湾人民有这样的焦虑没有错，从可能性上讲，本届政府或任何一届政府都有可能与中共达成又一项对台湾不利的协议，只是有可能性，但我觉得这不太会发生，就因为川普总统想得与大多数美国总统不同，而且他，什么是国家主义者尚无定论，但可以肯定的一点是，如果他在台湾（政策上）做出不必要的调整，试图与中共达成协议，那就是软弱。然而，川普总统不喜欢显得软弱，因此，他在制定策略时的个人色彩应该是让人放心的，他不是那种乐于接受或急于做出不必要让步的人。我认为，美国决策者们在海峡两岸问题和台湾问题做出的许多让步，是美国方面不必要的软弱。所以不允许台湾领导人自由访问美国这个做法，是很不美国的，有些非邦交国家的领导人是可以自由访美的。台湾现在是地球上唯一一个我们不准其领导人自由访问、并与我们的人民互动的民主政体。因此，我不认为川普总统会像此前美国其他领导人那样容易被诱惑而做出那些让步。他对新的世界大战，强权冲突不感兴趣。他发起联盟并当选总统的原因之一是为了从那些大家认为美国过度参与的冲突中撤出。他批评伊拉克战争，对仍在进行的阿富汗战争也有不满。他会这样想，如果你执行这样的政策， 就会增加冲突的风险。但是我认为他内心里他是相信通过实力赢得和平。 防止与中共发生冲突的最好的办法，就是承认现状，但是至少，大家认为川普有可能会疯狂到动手，再加上美国现在比以往更强。我认为他会愿意通过谈判避免与中共冲突。如果这一点不改变，台湾在美中谈判中就只能是受害者或者谈判筹码。但是对川普总统来说，大的棋局主要聚焦在重新平衡，重新调整美国和中共在安全、经济和其它领域的关系。如果新的平衡如实发生了，我相信他是真心的在促成一个有序、高效、友善的中国关系。不一定是对中国共产党，而是对中国和中国人民。所以这不是一个抗中政策。我认为川普是相信这一点的。但是我的解读是否有误，台湾人民的焦虑是否正确，我们还要再看。但是就目前而言，我认为美国不会软化其支持台湾的立场，我认为极有可能这种支持会变的更强。”
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.”
萧茗（Host/Simone Gao）：“是吗？我正要问您这个问题。 美国领导层是否重新评估了他们台湾政策，尤其是四十六年前的那个（与在台湾断交的）政策，看看这个政策到底是不是一个好的决定？”
“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.”
萧茗（Host/Simone Gao）：“那么您认为在川普总统当政期间， 美台关系会发生根本转变吗？”
“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
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