Did the US intervene with Taiwan’s elections?
The presidential and parliamentary elections held in Taiwan on January 14th were unusual. A retired US diplomat Douglas H. Paal publicly endorsed the incumbent president on a Cti News TV interview. Furthermore, his support was based on the unfounded concept of “92 Consensus.” Ma Ying-jeou and China’s Hu Jintao claim there was a 92 Consensus, but there is no written document to prove any such consensus.
On January 12th, two days before the election, Douglas H. Paal, the former director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), pointed out during an interview with cable TV channel Cti News that Ma Ying-jeou’s claim of “1992 Consensus is false” as it is does exist. However, Paal later said that this consensus was “the only basis for cross-strait talks.”
This is a cunning attempt to make China’s “One China principle” become existing consensus between China’s PRC and Taiwan’s ROC. Paal not only endorsed Ma, but also betrayed the US policy to maintain status quo. Paal was speaking as if he is a spokesman of China to claim that Taiwan is a part of China.
Paal also denounced candidate Tsai Ing-wen’s proposal of “Taiwan consensus” as “fiction.” Paal said Tsai’s cross straight policy is “a word game” that her proposal of Taiwan Consensus “vague and unpractical.” Paal further speculated that “If elected, Tsai might call for Taiwan’s independence” and “Tsai’s messages were too big to make Washington comfortable:”
A hired gun from America, or a covert US intervention
Paal served as the director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) from 2003 to 2006. The director’s post is a presidential appointee (equivalent to an ambassador) whose duty was to maintain good relationship between the United States and Taiwan’s ROC. This time he flew to Taiwan to endorse Ma and also publicly supported the non-existent 92 Consensus.
Evidently Paal played the role of a “hired gun” from America in Taiwan’s election. The question is whether this was a covert attempt by the US to intervene with Taiwan’s election.
President Obama repeatedly stressed that the United States should not and will not interfere with the democratic elections of leaders in other nations. But it is hard to believe that a former AIT director would travel to Taiwan and blatantly interfere with Taiwan’s election without the knowledge of the White House. Although the current AIT director William A. Stanton declared Paal’s opinion does not represent that of the United States, most of people think it is “a good cop, bad cop” play. It is hard to believe that a former director came to intervene with Taiwan’s election but the current director was not debriefed.
“92 Consensus” and “Taiwan Consensus”
The 1992 Consensus or Consensus of 1992 is a term describing the outcome of a meeting in 1992 between the semi-official representatives of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in mainland China and the Republic of China (ROC) in Taiwan. The Consensus, as described by observers, is that, on the subject of the “One China principle”, both sides recognize there is only one China - both mainland China and Taiwan belong to the same China, but both sides could not agree on the meaning of one China.
PRC insisted that one China was PRC, and the ROC insisted that one China was ROC; so the meeting ended without any consensus or agreement. The subject did not come up until 2011, when Hu Jintao threatened the ROC that the cross straight relationship would cool down if Ma did not recognize 92 Consensus is One China principle. Ma brought up the subject in the election as a necessary condition to maintain Sino-Taiwan relationship, and Douglas Paal broadcasted it as a “false…. but the only basis.”
Taiwanese are alarmed because if accepting 92 Consensus equal One-China principle and one China is PRC, Taiwan will be “unified” by PRC in the future. Tsai proposed a “Taiwan consensus” which stated that Taiwan’s future must be determined by all Taiwanese. Taiwanese self determination of their future is a fundamental democratic principle, but Paal denounced it as “vague and unpractical.”
Status Quo must support the welfare of Taiwanese
Although China insists Taiwan is part of China, the majority (89%) of Taiwanese insist Taiwan is not part of China. Taiwan is not a country. The United States does not recognize ROC and does not recognize Taiwan as part of China. In other words, based on the Taiwan Relations Act, the United States supports “the people of Taiwan”, not the government of ROC. Ma Ying-jeou falsely claimed that 92 Consensus existed, but Taiwanese people do not agree that the 92 Consensus or the One China Principle ever existed.
Taiwan Relations Act of April 10, 1979 (TRA) states that “to promote the foreign policy of the United States by authorizing the continuation of commercial, cultural, and other relations between the people of the United States and the people of Taiwan.” In other words, the United States supports “the people of Taiwan”, not the ROC.
Mr. Paal intervened with the ROC elections and supported the ROC to rule the people of Taiwan. Although TRA states the United States will support the people of Taiwan, Mr. Paal endorsed a Chinese candidate Ma Ying-jeou to rule the people of Taiwan, to maintain Status Quo between China and Taiwan.
This is morally and politically wrong. The United States must support the welfare of Taiwanese people. The United States must understand that a status quo is a temporary peace but also a gradual encroachment of Taiwan. Ma Ying jeou’s cross straight talk with China without a formal Taiwan Consensus will result in losing Taiwan.
If Taiwan is lost to China, it would be a disaster to the humanity and democracy. Also, losing Taiwan to China also means the US will lose a strategic stronghold in West Pacific.
Andre C. Chang、Ph.D.
San Clemente, CA