Tuesday, April 18, 2017

About that letter to the Wall Street Journal, and its awful title...

Remember back when I wrote a letter to the Wall Street Journal because some China expert got his head all mucked up thinking his profession somehow qualified him to comment on an entirely different country? And how I thought they decided not to publish it because it was set to print right before a bunch of craziness happened in the US (not the least of which was the Michael Flynn scandal) and Taiwan was probably not at the top of their priorities list?

I was fine with that, and had sort of forgotten about it until I came across an article referencing my letter in CNA, translating much of the content into Chinese.

Apparently it had been published after all, just some time after I'd stopped looking for it, and under a title so hilariously off that, had I come across it, I would not have thought it had been written by me. I'm happy it actually made it in, but I really am not sure what to say about the headline.

You're probably thinking "whatever, it was some short letter you wrote in February and really isn't that big a deal", and you're right, it's not. But remember I'm not a professional writer (admonishing certain ministers in Tsai's cabinet to consume some of the more protruding portions of male anatomy on a blog I keep for fun doesn't count as 'professional writing') and do not typically see my name in print in major media outlets. So it's a big deal for me *sniff*!

Anyway, about that title. All I can say is...LOL. In a very technical sense it's not "wrong", it just completely misses the point of my argument. Most people skimming headlines would assume I was talking about US policy on Taiwan in terms of their misconceptions of it, e.g. that we don't need to recognize Taiwan, that we recognize Taiwan as Chinese, that Taiwan is fine or unimportant etc.. Of course I say nothing of the sort - my point is that the current framework between China and Taiwan is neither "successful" nor "peaceful", and in fact there is room in US foreign policy even as it stands now for Taiwanese de jure independence. Oh, and Thomas Metzger is wrong and perhaps should stick to talking about China, the country he ostensibly knows, rather than Taiwan, the country he so clearly doesn't.

The headline is also not interesting. I can't imagine many people seeing a headline so stodgy it's the semantic equivalent of wall plaster and thinking there is worthwhile content inside.

And there's a big fat typo in the last paragraph, which I'm not pointing out to be mean - I'm thrilled it was published at all - but because I wouldn't want anyone to think I am that sloppy a writer.

Because the Wall Street Journal is behind a paywall, and I wrote this so I feel justified doing what I want with it, here is what I wrote:

U.S. Need Not Change Taiwan/China Policy
(ed: *audible groan*)

We simply need to acknowledge what is already true

Regarding the recent opinions of John Bolton “Revisit the ‘One-China Policy’” (op-ed, Jan. 17) and Thomas Metzger (Letters, Feb. 7): Contrary to Mr. Metzger’s claims, the current framework between Beijing and Taipei is far from successful. The Taiwanese wake up every morning to the estimated 1,000 or more missiles aimed at them, knowing that Beijing has been clear that, absent Taiwanese capitulation, it is planning an eventual invasion. This isn’t peace; this is a threat.
Most Taiwanese don’t identify primarily as Chinese and will likely never accept unification. However, the claim to sole governance of China by the Republic of China cannot be formally retracted. From Beijing’s perspective, doing so constitutes a formal declaration of independence, which would precipitate an immediate war. To insist that the existence of the Republic of China renders Taiwan as Chinese regardless of the people’s wishes, and yet to scold Taiwan for provoking China in any way, is to create a Catch-22 for Taiwan. At best, setting such impossible standards for Taiwan makes one a “useful idiot” of China.
Few in Taiwan agree that Taiwan is “one part of China.” Both international law and U.S. policy on Taiwan support the possibility of sovereignty, de jure independence, formal and permanent autonomy.Both international law and U.S. policy on Taiwan support this. [sic] Different interpretations of international law label Taiwan’s status as “sovereign” or “undetermined,” and Mr. Bolton is entirely correct that U.S. policy merely acknowledges Beijing’s claim to Taiwan, nothing more. The U.S. Taiwan policy, at its heart, calls for peaceful resolution of the issue. There doesn’t need to be a change in U.S. policy on Taiwan. We simply need to acknowledge what is already true.
Jenna Cody
Taipei, Taiwan

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