Taiwan ensures healthy foreign relations

By Patrick Burke

The main issue that loomed in the shadows of this past weekend’s conference between President Bush and President Hu of China was arguably that of Taiwan’s future as an independent free democratic state. It is the fear of many hawkish policy makers that a hypothetical Chinese superpower would inevitably invade and annex Taiwan.

China faces a particularly troublesome dillemma in that as long as the specter of Communism survives within its boundaries, it will never genuinely be able to dispel all fears regarding its intentions against Taiwanese sovereignty. Such a dilemma is not necessarily one that China may wish to remedy all too quickly, however. In fact, it is arguably in the best interest of both the United States and China to maintain some degree of ambiguity concerning the Taiwan subject.

There is no doubt at this point that sometime in the near future the supposed unipolar moment or hegemony of the United States will be shattered by the burgeoning Chinese economy and military. Soon will be the day when the United States must share whatever global politico-economic throne it has attained since the end of the Cold War with its Far Eastern peer. The vast majority of those who accuse China of possessing imperial designs against Taiwan are most likely in bitter denial of this simple verity. In other words, do the aforementioned accusers truly believe that a blossoming China would compromise its chance to end the unipolar moment of the United States by invading Taiwan? Although stripping Taiwan of its independence would provide China with perhaps a modicum of historical vindication, does contemporary China realistically have any practical interest in annexing the island nation?

Having asserted that modern China would neither dare nor desire to risk annexing Taiwan, it is important that the United States continue to suspect China and China continue to create suspicion. To expand upon this point, the illusion of a threatened Taiwan is a lynchpin in future smooth relations between the two superpowers of tomorrow, namely China and the United States. This is not to say that, upon mutual recognition by the U.S. and China, that the possibility of politico-economic harmony will be eliminated. More specifically, ambiguity over the security of Taiwan’s independence can serve to create a measure of rivalry instrumental to a positive economic relationship between both nations.

It is in the best interests of both the Chinese and the U.S. economies to compete. An uneasy relationship over Taiwan will ensure that the edge never disappears. Uncertainty over Taiwan, of course, will not directly ensure that China and the U.S. equally strive to raise the bar in technology and general production at a steady rate in the near future, but it will contribute significantly. The increasing polarization of the Western world between all that is E.U. and cooperative and all that is American can be nicely disturbed by the addition of a Chinese superpower on the world scene.

Direct competition with a similarly ambitious superpower will raise the U.S. economy from the rut in which competition against the E.U. has landed it. Taiwan is, fortunately, something that the E.U. does not want to touch. Rather, the U.S. and China alone are destined to grapple with Taiwan. In short, Taiwan is an issue that could ideally facilitate the creation of a renewed and unforeseen level of prosperity for the United States.