Officially the US recognizes only “one China”, diplomatically implying it’s up to Beijing and Taipeh to sort it out between themselves, hopefully by peaceful means. It also means that the USA does not de jure recognize Taiwan as an independent entity, though it has a historical defence arrangement with the Island state.
Now, under the Bush administration, the US Congress will be presenting a human-rights award to President Chen of Taiwan for his efforts in promoting tolerance, democracy, and human rights. I believe there’s more to it than meets the eye.
Chen has certainly been promoting democracy for Taiwan. He doesn’t want to abide by the ‘one China’ policy anymore - a policy that has consensual agreement among Beijing, Washington and Taipeh, at least until Chen came into power. The ‘one China’ policy has kept a reasonable lid on the Chinese cross-strait hostility for more than 3 decades.
But in reality it disadvantages Taipeh in the international arena. Diplomatically, other than a few insignificant Pacific and Caribbean island-nations Taiwan does not exist. Taipeh is not represented in international forum as the ‘one China’ policy means China is represented by Beijing.
But the human-rights award is not all the US Congress will be awarding Chen. Now members of the US Congress, dominated by Bush Republican Party wants to sponsor and promote Taipeh’s membership in the UN, a move to give Taiwan an independent status which abandons the USA’s hitherto policy on ‘one China’.
Whether that is right or not, Beijing will not tolerate such an external interference in what it considers as its ‘internal affairs’. But that may be precisely what the US Republican Party wants.
The current rightwing Republican Party’s drive to promote Taiwan’s independence may not be for Taipeh’s benefit. One needs to be wary of the US Republican Party, who probably wants to create another distraction from Bush’s current abysmal performance – a terrible pathetic presidential performance that’s now dawning on those who have supported him into his second presidential term.
The Republican Party fears a voters’ backlash in the 2006 Congressional election. And there’s nothing like a scrumptious juicy Chinese cross-strait imbroglio to marshal outraged Americans around the GOP, the ‘only’ American party damn capable of fending off not only al Qaeda terrorists and Saddam Hussein’s WMD, but also the rapacious yellow peril of the Communist hordes. "Thank you, Mr Chen, for your contribution to our Party cause!"
Personally I believe Beijing’s apparently overt hostility to Taiwan’s independence is more for show, not so much against Taipeh, but more to deter any similar moves by its northwest regions or Tibet. The ‘corrupting’ influence of 23 million Taiwanese brought up under an anti-communist regime may be more than a handful for Beijing to handle, so the current status quo or even some arrangements a la Hong Kong one-nation-two-systems model would be more preferable.
I predict at some stage in the future, say, maybe 30 years time, Beijing will come to some arrangements with Taipeh that will see the Taiwan cut loose officially from the China-nation. This may depend on how well Beijing pacifies its northwest regions.