Bush Got One Right

By Corson, Trevor | The American Prospect, June 18, 2001 | Go to article overview

Bush Got One Right


Corson, Trevor, The American Prospect


The dramas in April over the downed U.S. reconnaissance plane and the sale of arms to Taiwan have revealed a burgeoning American hawkishness toward China. Centrists have joined conservatives in blaming America for being soft on the Communists and weak in supporting democratic Taiwan. But this growing fashion for fulmination is misguided, for two reasons: First, Beijing isn't being belligerent out of the blue; and second, selling Taiwan our highest-tech weapons is more likely to hurt Taiwan's democracy than to help it.

According to the expanding chorus of China hard-liners in Washington, the Bush administration performed a craven cave-in to bullying by an increasingly dangerous China when the United States expressed regret over the spy plane collision. Furthermore, according to these hard-liners, the administration executed an abject betrayal of democracy when it opted not to sell Aegis-class destroyers to Taiwan.

In fact, however, both moves were smart. They were also defensible on liberal principle and in terms of protecting Taiwan. Ironically, it may be up to liberal Democrats to point out the wisdom of the Bush team's moderate approach. What's needed is a way forward on China-and-Taiwan policy that is based on a nuanced reading of recent events.

Both sides in the 50-year China-Taiwan standoff are deeply entrenched. In 1949 the Chinese Nationalists (the KMT) lost the civil war against the Communists and retreated to the island of Taiwan. Since then, the KMT and the Communists have each aimed to complete the war by conquering the other's territory and creating "one China." For the KMT in Taiwan, retaking the Chinese mainland has become an increasingly unrealistic goal. For the Communists, taking Taiwan by force remains an option. The United States is rightly committed to ensuring that this option is never exercised.

In the early 1990s, though, it was Taiwan that decided to reach out to China. KMT President Lee Teng-hui declared an official end to the war and sought dialogue with the Communists. China responded favorably, and in 1992 both sides agreed that at least the concept of "one China" was potentially valid. On that basis, semi-official talks between China and Taiwan began.

On the Chinese side, Deng Xiaoping had set a less belligerent tone in the 1980s with his endorsement of economic liberalization. Although Tiananmen Square revealed that Deng had no qualms about the use of force at home, Deng also established a policy of avoiding conflict abroad as a requirement for China's internal stability. Despite his reputation as a militarist, Deng de-emphasized the People's Liberation Army (PLA) and reduced its budget.

As Deng lay dying in 1995, his successor, President Jiang Zemin, lacked legitimacy with the PLA. To strengthen his own civilian rule by further sidelining the army, Jiang made a bid for peaceful progress on the Taiwan question, issuing an eight-point proposal for eventual reunification. Jiang's plan offered dialogue and wide-ranging social and economic exchanges, and he staked his credibility on the overture by publicizing it widely. Within months, Taiwan's Lee Teng-hui responded with a six-point proposal of his own and agreed to talks, though he demanded that China renounce the use of force against the island.

Negotiations would probably have followed, but the KMT's dictatorship in Taiwan was under increasing pressure from a native Taiwanese democracy movement. In particular, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) eschewed the KMT's dream of a reunified China, advocating Taiwanese independence instead. By 1995 the KMT was facing Taiwan's first presidential election. To win, Lee Teng-hui had to draw support away from the pro-independence DPP. So he dropped his "one China" reunification rhetoric and sought more recognition for Taiwan on the international stage. That led to Lee's unprecedented visit to the United States in May 1995, to speak at his alma mater, Cornell University. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Bush Got One Right
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.