Skip to comments.Kerry Policy on Taiwan Differs From Ten Months Ago
Posted on 11/01/2004 3:02:10 AM PST by kattracks
Pacific Rim Bureau (CNSNews.com) - In an apparent policy shift, Sen. John Kerry has told an Asian newspaper that he does not support the notion of Taiwan reverting to China under the "one country, two systems" formula which governed Hong Kong's return to the mainland.
Kerry reportedly told Hong Kong's Chinese-language Sing Tao Daily that the "one country, two systems" model could not be replicated for Taiwan.
That position differs from one outlined by Kerry last January, when he spoke in favor of "one country, two systems" for Taiwan.
Taiwanese are divided over whether the island should be incorporated into China, declare formal independence, or retain the current, ambiguous status quo.
But even for those favoring a union with the mainland, the "one country, two systems" proposal is widely rejected.
The experience of Hong Kong, where Beijing's communist rulers have stymied campaigners' hopes for democratic reforms, has confirmed for many skeptical Taiwanese that the formula did not live up to its promises of protecting Hong Kong's freedoms and capitalist way of life for at least 50 years.
In the interview, Kerry referred to the controversy in the former British colony.
"If China will not respect Hong Kong's full rights under the current system, it sends a negative message that will further complicate efforts to resolve issues with the Taiwanese," he said.
"The 'one country, two systems' model can't be replicated for Taiwan."
Kerry's remarks were welcomed by the Taiwanese government's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), which handles relations across the Taiwan Strait. MAC vice-chairman Chiu Tai-san told local media Kerry's remarks made it clear that Taiwan's circumstances were unique.
Ten months ago, however, Kerry presented a different policy during a radio debate hosted by National Public Radio, involving six candidates for the Democratic Party presidential nomination.
Asked his views on the Taiwan Strait situation, Kerry said on Jan. 6: "I think the way we resolve it is to continue to push - as we did with Hong Kong, Macau and other places - for a 'one China-two systems' and work through over the course of the future."
US statements closely examined
China considers Taiwan a rebel province which at some future point must re reunited with the mainland and has threatened to use force, if necessary, to prevent it from formally declaring independence.
Over the decades since the sides split in 1949, Taiwan has developed into a prosperous, free market democracy with all the trappings of statehood except - at Beijing's insistence - international recognition.
The U.S. in 1979 exchanged diplomatic relations with Taipei for Beijing, but passed a law that year called the Taiwan Relations Act, in which, among other things, the U.S. pledged to help Taiwan to defend itself.
Early in his first term, President Bush offered Taiwan the largest weapons deal in decades. At the same time, his administration also has tried to discourage Taiwan's leaders from taking steps that could provoke China.
Taipei was alarmed last week when Secretary of State Colin Powell, visiting Beijing, suggested in media interviews that "reunification" was the desired outcome of the Taiwan Straits dispute.
The State Department made it clear afterwards that U.S. policy remained unchanged, reiterating the administration's support for President Reagan's "six assurances" to Taiwan in 1982.
The key assurance of the six was that America "has not changed our long-standing policy on the matter of sovereignty over Taiwan."
According to Heritage Foundation scholar John Tkacik, that long-standing policy is that sovereignty over Taiwan "is an unsettled question subject to future international resolution."
The China-Taiwan dispute has not featured greatly in the presidential election campaign, but in Taiwan every statement coming out of the U.S. is closely perused.
The Democratic Party's platform on Taiwan comprises one sentence saying it is "committed to a one-China policy and will continue to support a peaceful resolution of cross-Straits issues that is consistent with the wishes and best interest of the Taiwanese people."
The Republican platform's section on Taiwan is several paragraphs long and refers to the island as "a longstanding friend of the United States and a genuine democracy" which deserves U.S. support, including the timely sale of defensive weaponry.
"We deny the right of Beijing to impose its rule on the free Taiwanese people," it says. "All issues regarding Taiwan's future must be resolved peacefully and must be agreeable to the people of Taiwan. If China violates these principles and attacks Taiwan, then the United States will respond appropriately in accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act."
The GOP platform also supports Taiwan's bid to participate in the World Health Organization "and other multilateral institutions."
Taiwan has been seeking membership or observer status at the WHO for the past eight years, but each year its efforts have been thwarted by China and its allies.
The WHO issue is an extremely sensitive one for Taiwan, whose exclusion from the U.N.'s health body has cost lives during outbreaks of disease such as SARS.
In an open letter to Kerry, published earlier this year in the Taipei Times, Taiwanese commentator Li Thian-hok said "more than 600,000 U.S. citizens of Taiwanese heritage ... will vote for the candidate who firmly supports democratic Taiwan."
See earlier story:
Taiwan 'Traditionally Benefits' With Republicans in White House (Oct. 28, 2004)
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That would certainly deserve a frontpage headline.
Hey ~ is it just me, or does this guy seem to change his mind a lot? :-)
How do you know that within the 10 months time that sKerry didn't change back and forth several more times... ;)
Did you know he served in 'Nam?
What? A deeply religous, God fearing man, with his strong convictions, flip-floped on an issue? I'm shocked, shocked I say.