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US strategic rebalance for Asia is still strategic ambiguity policy for Taiwan

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Twenty-five Representatives gathered for a special hearing of the powerful U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee. On March 14, the Committee, chaired by Rep. Ed Royce of California, listened to Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kin Moy talk about America’s “strategic rebalance” in Asia.

However, for Taiwan, the “strategic rebalance” is actually a continuation of the longstanding “strategic ambiguity” policy and opposition to Taiwanese independence while selling $12 billion of weapons to the exiled Republic of China government administering the island. Under the San Francisco Peace Treaty, the United States is the principal occupying power of the former Japanese territory known as Formosa before the ROC occupation after World War II.

Moy proclaimed: “Our policy is to support Taiwan membership in international organizations where statehood is not a requirement for membership and encourage Taiwan’s meaningful participation, as appropriate, in organizations where its membership is not possible.”

However, opposition to Taiwanese independence is not acquiescence to the two Chinas competing for control of the island of 23 million people. The Republic of China in-exile, currently controlling the island, lacks sovereignty and was installed by the United States in October 1945 as an interim measure. The People’s Republic of China, which considers Taiwan a renegade province, makes threats of military aggression.

“Taiwan has earned a respected place in the world. Every society wishes dignity for itself, and people on Taiwan are no exception. Thanks to the Taiwan Relations Act, people of good will in the United States and on Taiwan have a firm foundation to further strengthen our robust relationship for the benefit of both our peoples.”

Rep. Steve Chabot called for medical parole of former ROC President Chen Shui-bian. Chen, jailed since shortly after leaving office in 2008, is suffering from severe sleep apnea, suicidal depression, and a progressive neurological deterioration that has left him unsteady, stammering, and trembling. Chen was accused of corruption but his controversial no-jury trial was marred with a changing of judges, midnight sessions, courtroom harassment of Chen by hostile observers, and recanted, coerced testimony.

Chen Shui-bian has become an iconic figure symbolizing Taiwanese independence and what can happen to opponents under the Kuomintang with a history of harsh martial law four decades long.

Rep. Chris Smith said it was time to replace the “one China” policy with a “one China” and “one Taiwan” policy.

Chairman Royce called for the sale of advanced F-16 fighter planes for the ROC Air Force.

In 2009, the District of Columbia U.S. Court of Appeals declared that the “strategic ambiguity” surrounding Taiwan’s status constituted “political purgatory” and urged President Barack Obama to take swift action to clarify Taiwan’s status. Kin Moy’s remarks to the House committee do not suggest Obama will heed the court ruling anytime soon despite the so-called rebalance of U.S. foreign policy.

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