Scrap the Taiwan Relations Act

US Vice-president Dick Cheney recently warned PRC President Hu Jingtao that the Taiwan Relations Act, or TRA, “legally obligated” the US government to intervene militarily on behalf of Taiwan in the event it was attacked.

In fact the TRA does not “obligate” the US government to intervene militarily in the defense of Taiwan, legally or otherwise. The TRA merely stipulates that the US government shall sell American weapons to Taiwan, and only defensive weaponry at that.

Cheney was either ignorant of the provisions of the Taiwan Relations Act, or he was merely pretending to be. I’m not sure which is worse. Perhaps the TRA is one of Donald Rumsfeld’s “unknown unknowns.” More likely the TRA is a cautionary tale about the omnipresent hazard of “mission creep.”

Compelling Reasons to Scrap the Taiwan Relations Act

Considering how the Taiwan Relations Act has been so loosely interpreted and recklessly applied, congress should scrap it as soon as humanly possible, for a multitude of compelling reasons.

The TRA is an obsolete relic of the Cold War, irrelevant to America’s national security in a post-Communist world. That’s one compelling reason to scrap the TRA.

The TRA is a blank check made out to Taiwan independence extremists, signed in advance with American GIs’ blood, to be cashed not at the discretion of American president George W. Bush, but at the whim of a foreign dictator named Chen Shui-bian. That’s another compelling reason to scrap the TRA.

The TRA is not “defending democracy,” but propping up a Quisling dictatorship unable to command the loyalty of the ROC’s deeply patriotic military personnel. That’s yet another compelling reason to scrap the TRA.

If Taiwan ever was a bona fide democracy – and that is debatable – it isn’t one today. America’s indolent lapdog media is in the habit of characterizing Taiwan’s cronyist dictatorship as a “lively / thriving / vibrant democracy.” Well Taiwan’s “democracy” is lively, thriving, and vibrant no more.

As Pan Blue signs protesting the fraudulent March 20 presidential election correctly declared, “Democracy is Dead” on Taiwan. What 23 million Chinese citizens on Taiwan live under today is a quasi-fascist dictatorship, one that is becoming less quasi and more fascist with each passing week.

Realizing in advance he was going to lose his bid for reelection by a humiliating margin, Chen Shui-bian staged a patently phony Wag the Dog “assassination attempt,” then falsified the election results to make it appear as if he won. Chen, for all intents and purposes, staged a coup d’tat. In doing so, the Taiwan independence nomenklatura regressed Taiwan to the level of a Central American or Southeast Asian Banana Republic, and forfeited what meager claim it might once have had to moral and political legitimacy.

To give you a sense of how little legitimacy the pro Taiwan independence Chen regime enjoys, Chen has ordered all ROC Air Force F-16 and Mirage fighters grounded, indefinitely. Despite the very real possibility that the PLA Air Force could attack the island at any moment, no weapons of any kind may be loaded aboard ROC military aircraft until further notice.

Why would Chen hand down such a bizzare and incomprehensible order?

Because the traitorous Chen is terrified of what patriotic ROC Air Force pilots might do to him – shoot down Chen’s Air Force One with him onboard, or bomb or strafe the Presidential Palace on Inauguration Day, then defect to the mainland with costly and irreplaceable combat aircraft.

Is such a contemptible regime worth even one American GI’s life? If so, tell me his name, and I will notify his next of kin, in advance.

Tami Silicio Coffins The photo that cost Tami Silicio her job TAMI SILICIO/ZUMA Press

The Real Reason to Scrap the Taiwan Relations Act

The above reasons for scrapping the Taiwan Relations Act are perfectly sound and powerfully compelling. Anyone of them alone is enough to justify scrapping the TRA, ASAP.

The real reason for scrapping the TRA however, is far simpler and even more fundamental.

The real reason is the TRA is a legal and logical absurdity.

Benevolent Global Hegemonists on the Neanderthal right and Humanitarian Interventionists on the bleeding heart left routinely insist that “The TRA obligates America by law to defend Taiwan.”

The obvious response to these New Imperialists, which everyone seems to have missed, is “Who gave you the right to obligate yourself in the first place"?

The Taiwan Relations Act is an Affront to National Sovereignty

Aztlan, the mythical birthplace of the Aztecs, is regarded in Chicano folklore as an area that includes California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and parts of Colorado and Texas. Spencer believes the aim [of “La Voz de Aztlan,” the Voice of Aztlan] is to create a sovereign state, “Republica del Norte,” the Republic of the North, that would combine the American Southwest with the northern Mexican states and eventually merge with Mexico. – – Art Moore,

The Taiwan Relations Act, United States Code Title 22 Chapter 48, enacted 10 April 1979, was an Act of Congress. It is domestic US law. It is not an international treaty.

Does domestic American legislation, enacted unilaterally by the US government without the consent of the Chinese people, legitimize US abetting of ethnic secessionists undermining China’s territorial integrity?

In case the answer isn’t immediately obvious, let me turn the question around.

Would domestic Chinese legislation, enacted unilaterally by the PRC government without the consent of the American people, legitimize PRC abetting of ethnic secessionists undermining America’s territorial integrity?

How for example, would the US government feel about a PRC “Aztlan Relations Act?” Suppose the PRC “obligated” itself to intervene if the US government used force to prevent “Republica del Norte” independence? How would Americans react to PRC Vice-president Zeng Qinghong warning George W. Bush that the Aztlan Relations Act “legally obligated” the PRC government to intervene militarily on behalf of Chicano secessionists in the event they were attacked?

Is the answer clearer now?

If so, why wasn’t it clear earlier?

When was the Golden Rule repealed?

Do ordinary Americans have any clue as to how angry the US government’s abetting of Taiwan independence makes 1.3 billion patriotic Chinese on the Chinese mainland, 6 million more in Hong Kong, not to mention a democratic majority on Taiwan?

Hu Jingtao could have told Dick Cheney,

You had no right to “obligate” yourself to meddle in another nation’s internal affairs. You “obligated” yourself. Now “unobligate” yourself. End of “obligation.”

He however, was too much of a gentleman.

See: The Hispanic Challenge, by Samuel P. Huntington

Be Careful What You Ask For. You Might Just Get It

Independence: The state or condition of being free from dependence, subjection, or control. Political independence is the attribute of a nation or state which is entirely autonomous, and not subject to the government, control, or dictation of any exterior power. – – Black’s Law Dictionary, Fifth Edition

Chen Shui-bian and fellow Quisling Lee Teng-hui shrilly insist that “Taiwan is an independent nation.” Independent means not dependent. An independent nation is a nation that is not dependent on other nations. An independent nation does not depend on another nation for its military defense. A political entity that depends on another nation for its military defense is not an independent nation. It is not a nation at all. It is a colony, dominion, mandate, possession, protectorate, satellite, or territory of another nation.

If the Taiwan independence nomenklatura genuinely wants the US government to treat Taiwan as an independent nation, they should act like an independent nation. They should stop clinging to America’s apron strings, stop hiding behind America’s skirts, stop being dependent on the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet. They should assume responsibility for their own independent national defense.

If Taiwan independence fellow travelers genuinely consider Taiwan an independent nation, they should treat Taiwan as an independent nation. They should stop treating Taiwan as if it were Guam or Puerto Rico. Taiwan is neither an American protectorate nor an American commonwealth.

Taiwan is an integral part of China. China is a foreign nation. If the US government ever had any plausible excuse to muscle itself in between Beijing and Taipei, it has no longer. Congress should scrap the legal and logical absurdity known as the Taiwan Relations Act, along with the Orwellian “Taiwan Security Enhancement Act,” PDQ. Twenty-five years after its passage is much too late. Yesterday is none too soon.

Ted Galen Carpenter of the Cato Institute put it succinctly:

“Neither the earlier pro-Taiwan policy nor the latest pro-Beijing posture [advocated by George W. Bush] serves the best interests of the United States. It is not America’s proper role to take a position on Taiwan’s independence or other issues involving relations between Taipei and Beijing… U.S. leaders should make it clear that Taiwan must bear all of the risks entailed in whatever policies it adopts. In particular, Washington should state that it will not intervene if an armed conflict breaks out between Taiwan and mainland China.”

You want independence? You got independence.

May 6, 2004

Bevin Chu [send him mail] is an American architect of Chinese descent registered to practice in Texas. Currently living and working in Taiwan, Chu is the son of a retired high-ranking diplomat with the ROC (Taiwan) government. His column, “The Strait Scoop” is published on his website, The China Desk.