I've heard it said over and over that when it comes to US politics and the Taiwan issue, technically the best party to have in power (from Taiwan's point of view, anyway) is the Republican Party.
But - pardon me as a staunch supporter of the Democrats (though technically registered Independent and willing to consider a Republican, maybe)...but I don't think so. Frankly, I don't think either party has an acceptable platform on Taiwan, but that when it comes down to it, American Taiwanophiles are better off voting Democrat - not just because McCain and Palin are scary, but because they'll ultimately be better for Taiwan.
I don't claim to know everything about US politics, but a few things have made me think that conventional wisdom on this issue is just plain wrong.
Why, then, is the GOP not the party to support if you are pro-Taiwan?
1.) The freeze on arms sales to Taiwan. Whose policy was it to freeze the sale of much needed defensive weaponry to this beautiful island? The GOP - Bush specifically, from the way it sounds.
2.) "Provocative. Troublemakers." Who called Taiwan "provocative" and "a troublemaker", and otherwise told the Taiwanese to pipe down when they put a UN application resolution on the ballot? Condoleezza Rice, Bush's Secretary of State. Again, Republican.
3.) Tom Tancredo. Sure, the Republicans have one guy in power who is pro-Taiwan - Tom Tancredo. The thing is, look at the rest of his platforms and you'll see that in every other arena he's kind of a crackpot. By kind of, I mean really. He'd like to restrict/end all immigration to the USA...or that is, at least, how he talks. Having him on our team hurts us as much as helps us. Anyway, he's not pro-Taiwan because he feels true empathy for the people of Taiwan. He's pro-Taiwan by default; he hates China. Then again that's how I started out being pro-Taiwan (China left a bad taste in my mouth - literally) so I'm not one to criticize.
4.) Obama and McCain's party platforms. Do either of them contain strong pro-Taiwan language? No. The last time I read up on it, McCain's platform says more than Obama's on the issue, but...still not good enough. Besides, which candidate is more hawkish, and therefore more likely to strengthen ties with other large countries in order to bolster this "war on terror"? Who is likely to reach out to China in our time of economic crisis? McCain. So who is more likely to pander to China? McCain. He may seem stronger on foreign policy but he's also the guy whose foreign policy knowledge is exactly the kind of knowledge we do not want - the kind of guy who would sell Taiwan's soul because it was the pragmatic thing to do.
5.) Ma. When Ma Ying-jiu was elected, who was the guy who got the press for congratulating Taiwan on being a beacon of democracy in Asia? Obama. Sure, Bush said something too but it was more along the lines of "finally you've done the prudent thing"...the obvious message in his pro-democracy congratulatory words. That is not a pro-Taiwan statement at all. One can still hope that Ma will have been a prudent choice for Taiwan in the long-term, but that's stretching it.
6.) The Olympics. What a perfect opportunity to tell China what we really think of them in the West. How great it would have been if our leaders had grown a pair and made it clear that China's human rights violations and treatment of territories (Xinjiang and Tibet) and sovereign states (Taiwan) were unacceptable?
We could have done this at any other time as well, if you believe that the Olympics is purely a sporting event...which I don't believe at all. Have we? No. Who has been responsible for America's pussymandering around China? Bush. Who is willing to sell out ideology because it's not politically worth it to be right? Bush.
7.) Inheritances. Between Condi Rice's "provocative" statement, Bush's inability to take a hard line on China, the arms freeze on Taiwan and the Bush administration's frank outreach to China in the midst of an economic and political maelstrom, you've got a pretty big cache of evidence for the Republicans being the wrong party to support if you are pro-Taiwan. Who will inherit this legacy as a party incumbent, if elected? McCain.
As I said, I don't claim to know every little thing about US politics, though I am American so I probably have a better view of it than, say, the Australians, Canadians, Kiwis and other expats who love to give their opinions on it. Of course they have that right, just that they're seeing it from a different perspective and one that doesn't take a lot of details into account.
And, of course, there are certainly details that I'm overlooking. It just seemed important to bring these thoughts up and challenge the notion that Obama is the candidate who will sell off Taiwan for political gain. I don't think either candidate is good for Taiwan, but we really need to question this notion that the Republicans have the better platform on this issue.
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