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Home >> Opinion
UPDATED: 16:54, July 21, 2004
America's key interests
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For a long time, the United States has adopted a vague strategy with regard to the Taiwan Straits. The most typical posture of which is that it has never clearly said whether it would get itself involved once there was a war across the Straits.

This ambiguous gesture has, on the one hand, given Taiwan authorities hopes and, on the other, greatly contained the strategic moves of the Chinese mainland. The problem is that compared with the Taiwan authorities that are increasingly dependent on America's vague strategy, China's mainland is responding actively. According to published data, the Chinese military has included the possibility of US military intervention into the scope of combat drills against Taiwan and has continuously upgraded its capability of frightening and blocking foreign troops.

This made some farsighted US personages see a crisis. They feel if this vague strategy is allowed to continue, and wrong signals continue to be sent to Taiwan, the United States may someday be dragged into the mire.

On July 16 the American observer Dr. Carpenter specially held a press conference for the American congressmen and assistants, at which he aired his views on the Taiwan question. He maintains that the US government should tell Taiwan authorities clearly that the USA is willing to continue selling arms to Taiwan, so that the Island can have self-defense capability, and also urges Beijing to restrain itself. But, he adds, "don't expect us to protect you at the risk of going to war with China".

Carpenter believes Taiwan is linked to America's interests but it is not where the key interests lie. It is not absolutely necessary for US security. Great powers should not risk a war between them for a "protectorate" unrelated to their key interests.

Dr. Carpenter's opinion should represent the mainstream opinion in the United States regarding the Taiwan question: First, America does not want to go to war with China for the sake of Taiwan; second, the reason why America does not want to go to war is because Taiwan is not where key US interests lie. Third, though it does not want to be dragged into the mire, the United States is willing to fish for gains and contain China through the arms sales.

In the eyes of the author, the key interests of America, as Carpenter called, are those interests for which the United Sates unscrupulously launches a war at the costs of the lives of American soldiers. An overview of the wars waged by the United States in the last dozen years or so reveals that key US interests are consisted in the following three aspects: First, oil (the war in Iraq); second, anti-terrorism (the war in Afghanistan); third, major interests of its allies (the war in Kosovo).

Is there oil in Taiwan? The answer is negative. Is there any question of anti-terrorism on the Taiwan Straits? The answer is no. Is Taiwan-US relationship as close as the Europe-US one? Again the answer is no.

Since there are no key interests there, then, what are the real interests of the United States in Taiwan?

On July 15 the US House of Representatives passed a draft resolution on so-called "reiterating commitments to the 'Taiwan Relations Act'". The essence of the resolution is continuing to maintain arms sales to Taiwan.

In the case of Taiwan's arms purchase from the United States, which was reported much recently by the media, what made the Taiwan people feel uneasy was the eight diesel-electric submarines that cost NTD412 billion. In the face of the strong pressure of public opinion on the Island, Wang Chin-ping, head of the "Legislative Yuan", gave weighty words and asked the Americans to make another quotation. The Americans, however, gave a more adamant answer. On July 16 news from the Island said that in reply to Taiwan's request for another quotation, the Americans said "no".

This is where the true American interests in Taiwan lie: The arms dealer's bills that allow of no refusal.

By People's Daily Online

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