FAPA Statement On Taiwan’s Elections And U.S. Interests

On Friday, September 12th 2014, at a conference on “Relations across the Taiwan Strait”, organized by the Brookings Institution, former Chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan Richard Bush discussed how the United States government would approach the 2016 Taiwan presidential elections.

Mr. Bush indicated that “the US government, at some time and in some way will express itself on the implications of the 2016 elections for US interests.” He then described the dilemma that the US has a general principle of remaining neutral in elections of friendly democracies, but “… On the other hand, the US does have interests in the policies of any elected leadership…”

Mr. Bush then described a number of examples from the past, when the US expressed itself, covering the period 1996 through 2012.  He in particular mentioned the December 2003 episode, when President George Bush – seated next to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao – wagged his finger as if pointing at Taiwan’s president Chen Shui-bian, telling him “not to change the status quo” by pushing for a referendum.  In doing so, the US sided with a repressive and authoritarian China against a vibrant democracy intending to chart its own course through a democratic referendum.

Mr. Richard Bush ended his list of examples by referring to the September 2011 Financial Times episode, when – after a closed-door meeting of the US National Security Council with DPP Presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen – an NSC official called the Financial Times and expressed doubts about the China policies of Dr. Tsai. The call represented a serious violation of diplomatic protocol, and was also an unacceptable intrusion in Taiwan’s domestic politics, since it favored one side over the other.  Mr. Bush’s statement that .. this is something we do, implies that he endorses the way it was done.  This is totally unacceptable.

In response to Mr. Bush’s statement, the Formosan Association for Public Affairs wishes to state the following:

We have no objections to a constructive dialogue between the US and Taiwan on policy issues such as relations with China, but the way this is done is important.  The US needs to realize that for the people of Taiwan, China’s threatening policies and presence are an existential threat: the Beijing authorities want to incorporate Taiwan and stifle its democracy, period.

In such a situation it would be highly desirable if the United States would strongly support policies that are truly consonant with US national interests, namely encourage and enhance Taiwan’s democracy, and create the space for people of Taiwan to decide their own future, instead of restricting and diminishing that space, as implied in the situations Mr. Bush mentioned.  The latter approach runs counter to the values and principles of democracy and self-determination for which we in the United States should stand.

We therefore urge the US government to:

· Support policies that encourage and enhance Taiwan’s democracy, and thereby help create space for the people of Taiwan to decide their own future;

· Engage candidates and future leaders in a constructive two-way dialogue on important issues, and not resort to one-way dictates.

· Make it clear that the US will work closely with whatever leadership emerges from Taiwan’s free and fair elections to build on the enduring US commitment to Taiwan’s people, its prosperity, and peace.

Mark Kao, PhD, President, Formosan Association for Public Affairs

台灣人公共事務會聲明稿-台灣選舉與美國利益

2014912日於布魯金斯學會主辦的兩岸關係研討會中,美國在台協會前主席卜睿哲論及美國政府將如何涉入2016年台灣總統大選。

卜睿哲表示,美國政府將會在某個時間點上以某種方式表達台灣2016年總統選舉對美國自身利益的影響他接著提及美國對於友好民主國家中的選舉保持中立的一貫原則時常面臨兩難困境,由於“…將來被選出的領導人所採行的政策,對美國利益將產生實質的影響……”

卜睿哲列舉了從1996年到2012年大選中美國多次表達美方立場的例證。他特別提及了200312月所發生的小插曲,時任美國總統喬治布希(中國國務院總理溫家寶身坐旁邊)向台灣總統陳水扁搖手示意不准(以公投)改變現狀。這個例證顯示出美國當時與專制的中國立場一致地壓制一個充滿活力的民主國家期盼透過民主公民投票勾畫自己未來的權利。

卜睿哲提到的最後一個例證是20119月發生的金融時報事件。就在美國國家安全委員會與民進黨總統候選人蔡英文閉門會議結束之後, 一位國家安全委員會官員以電話聯繫金融時報,表達美國對於蔡英文的中國政策充滿疑慮。這通電話不僅嚴重違反了外交禮節,同時,此舉明顯偏好特定陣營,對於台灣的國內政治更是造成難以接受的侵害。卜睿哲提到"這是我們(美方)經常在做的事",意味著他贊同此舉,這是完全無法被接受的作法。

回應卜睿哲的論述,台灣人公共事務會謹此聲明如下:

我們絕不反對美國與台灣在政策議題上進行實質建設性的對話,例如商討雙方對中國的關係,然而,所採取的作法為何至關重要。美國需要認知到對於台灣人來說,中國對台灣所採取的威脅政策是既存的現實:北京當局從未放棄奪取台灣並扼殺其民主。

在這樣的情形之下,美國應當強力支持真正符合美國國家利益的政策,鼓勵及強化台灣的民主並且為台灣人創造更多得以決定自己未來的空間,而非用卜睿哲先前所述之各種美國限縮台灣人自決空間的反例。另外,卜睿哲所提及過去美方干涉台灣的種種作法與例證也同時違背了美國長久以來所支持的民主價值與自決原則

我們因此敦促美國政府:

支持有助於鼓勵並強化台灣民主的政策以創造台灣人決定自己未來的空間;

與候選人以及未來的領導人針對重大議題進行建設性的雙向對話,而非單向式的對話;

清楚表態美國將會與任何經過台灣自由與公平選舉所產生的領導人保持密切合作,落實美國長久以來保衛台灣人民繁榮與和平的承諾

高龍榮博士, 台灣人公共事務會會長

(September 18, 2014) FAPA Statement On Taiwan’s Elections And U.S. Interests / 台灣人公共事務會聲明稿-台灣選舉與美國利益