- The History of the US-Taiwan Relations
- The Current State of the US-Taiwan Relations
- The Latest Events Concerning the US-Taiwan Relations
A study of the US-Taiwan relations is currently an urgent scientific challenge. There is not only an acute necessity to find practical ways to resolve the Taiwan issue, but also the importance of the theoretical examination of an aspect of American foreign policy behavior. The key points in the US relations with Taiwan are the Taiwanese issue and how that kind of relations is both influenced by and has an impact on China. The purpose of the paper is to demonstrate the volatile and changeable nature of the US-Taiwan relations through the research of their history, the role of military factor as well as Chinas participation in those international relations, as it is an indivisible part of the issue.
The History of the US-Taiwan Relations
Although after World War II, de jure and de facto, Taiwan returned to the bosom of the motherland, shortly afterwards the so-called Taiwan issue appeared. This issue relates to the Kuomintang troops, which initiated the civil war and, more importantly, to the intervention of the international factor. After the World War II, the East and the West were in the state of a conflict. The government of the US decided to develop the global strategy and seemingly defend its countrywide interests. It struggled to preserve the Kuomintang group during the civil war generated by the troops themselves, by means of warranting its monetary capitals, artilleries and counselors. The main purpose was to avert the conquest of the innovative powers of the people of China. Nevertheless, the government of the USA has not accomplished its aims.
If the People's Republic of China had been proclaimed, the US administration would be able to resolve the difficulties and threats of the destructive civil war of China. However, it did not succeed and began to follow the strategy of "isolation and containment" against the New China (Hickey, 2014). Furthermore, after the explosion of the Korean War, it undertook the strategy of the military intrusion into the affairs between the two flanks of the Taiwan Strait, which was the business, pertinent exclusively to the internal affairs of China. In December 1954, the United States signed an agreement with the government of Taiwan. They called it mutual defense treaty, which meant that Taiwan Province of China would be taken under the patronage of the United States (Hickey, 2014). The report of the US government policy aimed at the continuation of the mediation in the interior business affairs of China led to a long-term tense atmosphere of confrontation across the Taiwan Strait.
In the late 60's and early 70's with the expansion and alterations of the global state, and with the concern about the increasing power of New China, the USA introduced the strategy regarding China, which subsequently resulted in a tendency of slow moderating the existing tensions in bilateral relations between the two great nations (Hickey, 2014). In the second month of autumn of 1971, the twenty-sixth Session of the UN General Assembly adopted the resolution about the restoration of the authentic rights of China in the United Nations and the ejection of the "representatives" of the government of Taiwan from the United Nations (Hickey, 2014). In 1972, the US and China drew a joint communique in Shanghai where the US was obliged to admit that the two flanks of the Taiwan Strait are factually Chinese and that China is a separate country with Taiwan being its part (Hickey, 2014). The US government had no objection to this position.
In December 1978, the US administration agreed to eliminate political affairs with the Taiwan ruling classes, cancel the mutual defense treaty and withdraw its troops from the country (Hickey, 2014). In the Joint Communique on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between China and the United States, the latter recognized the fact that the single lawful Chinese authority was the actual and legal Government of the People's Republic (Hickey, 2014). Thus, the American people would support the Taiwanese people with ethnic, marketable, and other informal relations. One more essential point to consider was that the United States Government accepted the position of China to proclaim Taiwan as just an inseparable part of China.
Nonetheless, soon the Congress of the US passed the so-called Act on relations with Taiwan, which entered into force upon signature by the president (Hickey, 2014). This Act of relations with Taiwan was an interior and therefore one-sided legislation of the USA, which consisted of several specific necessities that were varying on certain points with the above-mentioned Joint Communique (Hickey, 2014). Rendering to this Act, the government of the USA continues to sell munitions to Taiwan and interferes with the interior activities of China, thus again preventing the previously supported reconsolidation of Taiwan with the Chinese land (Hickey, 2014).
To resolve the problem of the US sales of weapons to Taiwan, the two governments assigned and accepted a covenant to publish the third Sino-US joint communique, briefly referred to as The communique of 17 August (Carpenter, 2000). In this official communication, the US government stated that their country did not pursue to maintain a lasting strategy on the sales of weapons to Taiwan, and those weapons, both in quality and quantity, would not exceed the number of weapons delivered in previous years. However, the same was promised after the above-mentioned initiation of the development of consular affairs between China and the United States (Carpenter, 2000). The US was ready to decrease the weapon sales to Taiwan with the successive leading to the final resolution of the conflict through a certain period. However, over the past ten-plus years, the US government does not completely comply with the provisions of the aforementioned communique, moreover, it violates it to a great extent. In September 1992, the US Government made a decision to trade Taiwan 150 fighters such as the F-16 (Hickey, 2014). Such decision of the US government hindered the successful expansion of the Sino-US relations and the Taiwan problem resolving. As for 2000, the US was the only weapons supplier to Taiwan, though China was criticizing their activity rather sharply (Carpenter, 2000). From the abovementioned, it can be implied that the US administration is responsible for the fact that the Taiwan issue still has not received its resolution.
The Current State of the US-Taiwan Relations
Over the years, the United States, ignoring the feelings and the common desire of the Chinese people, was supplying arms to Taiwan. The States, however, give more importance to their hegemonic interests rather than the legal sovereign interests of China. Hence, China is supposed to understand that the US arms sales to Taiwan indicate the US strategic focus towards China. Therefore, it can be inferred that the nature of the US-Taiwan relationship is very unstable and it is continually changing depending on what interests the US (as a global superpower) is pursuing in the region. There are several reasons why the US is maintaining the relations with Taiwan despite of Chinas (that is claiming to be worlds superpower too) objections. The first argument is using Taiwan as a lever of power, influencing the whole region. Secondly, the US is keen on restraining China and its development to prevent this country from becoming another authoritative superpower in the world and Taiwan would provide an opportunity to strengthen the US military presence in East Asia. Thirdly, Taiwan conflict with China is the reasonable way to lessen the presence of Chinese Navy in the Pacific Ocean and achieve the resources both on land and in the sea.
The first reason is the strategic views of the US planning to make an impact on East Asia through the relations with Taiwan. The United States regards Taiwan as the key point of intersection in the strategic balance of power in East Asia, with the US hegemonic intentions being aimed at maintaining the stability in East Asia unchanged. "Think Tank" of Washington has recently published a report entitled "Asian Alliance of the 21st century", which says that if China regains Taiwan, Asia will be divided into two parts. This in turn would not only threaten the position of the headquarters of the US in Asia, but the South China Sea also falls within the influence of Japan and Chinese Republic may lose its strategic depth (Cameron, 2015).
Besides, the US still consider Taiwan as a convenient way to hinder China's development. Previously, some American politicians have stated that it is time to weaken the US influence on Taiwan (Cameron, 2015). However, there was a project of political action on arms sales to Taiwan 2011, with the requirement to strengthen the "Relations Act Taiwan" with the subsequent launch of an appeal to provide a greater military and economic support. This indicated that some of the American officials again consider Taiwan a strategic method to China's hegemony.
The United States has not changed the strategy to maintain its economic interests based on the Taiwan issue. If the government adopts the decision on weapons sales to Taiwan, then the military supplies will become the "first battle" in the US strategy toward East Asia and China. Moreover, considerable resources for the sale of arms can save the threatened closure of the production line F-16 fighters. Additionally, it can bring considerable tax revenues to Washington and the overall enriching of the United States. The Taiwan issue has become an evident profitable "money tree" for the USA.
From 2008 to 2010, the US administration has approved two major arms packages for Taiwan. In October 3, 2008, the US State Department sent a notification of plans to sell arms to Taiwan party to be considered by Congress. The arms included anti-ship missiles, attack helicopters, guided missiles and blocks sighting, trigger equipment Javelin, helicopters, minesweeper and other military equipment worth nearly 6.4 billion dollars. Beijing's reaction to the US plans for transferring new weapons to Taiwan in 2010 was predictable, although included new statements as well. China directed the criticism to Washington, suspended bilateral military contacts and canceled the scheduled the US-Chinese consultations on strategic security, non-proliferation and arms control. Unprecedented was also the public threat of the Chinese government officials to impose sanctions on the US companies involved in supplying arms to Taipei. In the case of the introduction of such sanctions, it would cause economic damage to such companies such as Raytheon, Lockheed-Martin, United Technologies, General Electric and Boeing Company. In 2013, to regulate the emerging controversies, the US initiated the signing of Threading the Needle: Proposals for U.S. and Chinese Actions on Arms Sales to Taiwan that considered the interests of the three countries (the US, Taiwan and China) (Cole, 2013).
In addition to this, the United States continues to believe that Taiwan is the first obstacle to exiting the Chinese Navy in the Pacific Ocean. Moreover, the United States has not changed its position on splitting China and promoting "Taiwan independence" Regardless of the fact that the USA seemingly welcome the warming of relations between the two flanks of the Taiwan Strait, they are suspicious of this process and watch it closely. Deputy Chairman of the Committee of US House of Representatives on Foreign Affairs Howard Berman noted that according to the Ministry of Defense that published the latest country report on China's military power, the imbalance in the army power of the two banks is evident with the preponderance in the direction of China. To counter the threat of such imbalance, Howard Berman emphasized that the United States are to continue selling weapons to Taiwan with a perspective that the island had a capacity for self-defense.
The Latest Events Concerning the US-Taiwan Relations
In December 2015, The Obama administration approved the sale of large quantities of arms to Taiwan despite Beijing's outrage (Cameron, 2015). Taiwan buys weapons for $1.8 billion (Cameron, 2015). Among other things, the United States will provide Taiwan with two missile frigates, armored vehicles, anti-tank rockets and missiles ground-to-air (Cameron, 2015). Washington says that the sale of weapons is tailored towards the strengthening of Taiwan's defense capability, and it does not change the US position on the issue of the unity of China (Cameron, 2015). However, Beijing is strongly opposed to the sale of weapons and other military technology to Taiwan, which it regards as its dissenting province. Under the existing US law, Washington is obliged to sell Taiwan the weapons necessary for self-defense. Beijing threatened to use force to put Taiwan under its control in the past. In 2015, China held military exercises near the island Dunshandao approximately 270 kilometers from Taiwan (Cameron, 2015).
Earlier the sale of the US arms to Taiwan caused a sharp condemnation of the Chinese leadership, who considers it an interference practice in its internal affairs and the rude violation of the fundamental national interests of the country. At that time, the Chinese Embassy in the United States also protested. China firmly and openly opposes any arms sales to Taiwan from the United States.
Probably, the Chinese leadership is well aware that the frigates transfer is more symbolic. The United States needed a demonstrative gesture to confirm the validity of the act signed in 1979. This step was dictated by the desire to highlight the regional allies of Washington. In fact, the US leaders have long been interested in good relations with Beijing, and are not actually willing to sacrifice them for the sake of Taipei. While in 1979, Washington recognized the legitimacy of Beijing's claims to Taiwan, the US is still the main supplier of weapons and the closest ally of the split province.
Besides selling weapons, although both the US and Taiwan hold the common position in the South China Sea, only Taiwan is a direct participant in the conflict. The US and Taiwan accused China of placing missiles in the South China Sea region (Glaser, 2012). China placed an advanced missile system "ground-to-air" on one of the disputed islands in the mentioned area (Glaser, 2012). The important aspect of that conflict is that it reflects the US interests influence on the relations in the region. The US tries to find allies in the South China Sea being also interested in the resources there (Glaser, 2012).
In general, the actions of the US demonstrated that after the rupture of diplomatic relations and the contract with the Taiwan authorities for a mutual defense, undermine the primary conditions for the normalization of relations with China. Washington, nevertheless, does not stop to support diverse informal contacts with the Taiwanese administration, de facto acting as a guarantor of the island's independence. The traditional model of interaction between the United States and Taiwan is a combination of two components. On the one hand, the efforts of the Taiwan authorities aimed at increasing the support from the United States, and, on the other hand, Washington's desire to maintain a certain level of relations with Taipei, which would both guarantee the safe existence of the island and allow to develop beneficial contacts with China (Carpenter, 2000). The process of normalization of China-Taiwan relations has changed American politics in Taiwan. Taiwanese authorities are now carefully calculating the potential impact of any seemingly insignificant changes in the dynamics of relations with the United States to establish a favorable climate of the interaction with China. The key aspect in the US-Taiwan cooperation is the military sphere (selling weapons), which is, however, alsoa determining factor of the US-China and Taiwan-China relations.
The issue of Taiwan has been a significant destructive factor of a bilateral cooperation since the creation of official consular relations between China and the USA in 1979 and until recently. The endless risk that China will select the power scenario to resolve the problem of Taiwan defines the expansion of the military collaboration between Washington and Taipei. Its scale and pace diverges depending on the American administration position, the administrative conditions in the USA, the actions that influence the interests of Washington and Beijing, or the events in the global arena. Simultaneously, the government of China has constantly admonished the military collaboration between Taiwan and the USA. Behind every fact of the sale of US arms there is a followed micro-crisis in the US-China relations.