In a recent post, a blogger expressed his displeasure at the US’s decision to not sell new F-16s to Taiwan and to instead upgrade their existing F-16s. The post also raised issues about the nature of the US-China-Taiwan relationship, arguing that it should not exist and that the US should support Taiwan based on both a moral and historical argument.
However, I would argue that the blogger has misunderstood the history of PRC/ROC relations and that the current move by the US should be viewed with a longer term view of US China policy. As well, the blogger seems to have ignored the current economic and political progress between Taiwan and China, and instead has opted for only a US-centric view of the situation.
From the abdication of the Chinese Emperor and the fall of the Imperial system in China in 1911 until the found of the People’s Republic in 1949, China was ruled by a coalition of warlords and other militia groups, vying for power over the state, eventually somewhat united under Generalissimo Jiang Jieshi (Chiang Kai-Shek). The Republic of China was a military dictatorship ruled by Jiang and his Guomindang party (KMT). It was one party rule. Jiang’s government arrested and tortured those that were suspected of opposing it, even going as far as to using the army to massacre Communist in major Chinese cities after making a unity pact with them.
Even after moving to Taiwan, Jiang continued the system of one party rule. Taiwan was under martial law until the late 1980s, and the first democratic elections for leader of ROC were not held until 1996.
For Josh Lyman to say that ‘Good’ lost is not only not constructive in a policy sense, but makes me wish for an explanation of what his definition of ‘good’ is.
While morality and ethical behavior should not be completely absent for foreign policy, it can not be expected that all countries, including ours, are going to be good all the time or that bad countries can just be ignored.
While China is a country under the rule of a single party that calls itself ‘The Communist Part of China’, it is not in fact communist in the traditional sense, it is a one party authoritarian state. They practice what they call, ‘Socialism with Chinese Charateristics’, whatever that means.
China has shown in the last couple years that it intends to expand its navy and to actively pursue its territorial claims in the South China Sea. The amount of US debt that China holds is also worrying. While this ties our two countries together so that one cannot fail without the other being affected, the amount of debt should be lessened. China will become a rival of the US in the Asia-Pacific region, but that does not mean it is an enemy.
The US has kept its promises to Taiwan (a country that the US does not even recognize). They are provided with weapons to defend themselves as well the promise that America will protect it should the PLA invade.
However, to ignore a country as large (both geographically and demographically) as China is to ignore reality. Engagement with China and allowing the PRC and RoC to work out their issues with each other is the best course. While China can improve, there are many benefits the US can gain from China. Engagement with China is the best way to encourage China to improve.