When President Obama announced last year that the United States would normalize relations with Cuba, he said doing so would “cut loose the shackles of the past.” No longer would the U.S. be bound by the vestiges of a strategic era long past. In moving beyond a “rigid policy” that was “rooted in events that took place before most of us were born,” Washington and Havana would be writing a “new chapter” in bilateral relations not only between the two countries but also for the region as a whole.
Whatever the merits of Mr. Obama’s decision with respect to Cuba, it would seem his logic should apply equally, if not more so, to a democratic partner on the other side of the globe: Taiwan.
Taiwan, a self-governing, economically vibrant, strategically important country, has been denied recognition as a sovereign state by the U.S. based on the diplomatic hocus pocus that there is only “one China” and that upholding such a charade was necessary to flank the now nonexistent Soviet Union. ENLARGE President Barack Obama and Tsai Ing-wen, a candidate in Taiwan’s January presidential election. The election will test Washington’s long-standing China policy. PHOTO: EARL GIBSON III/GETTY IMAGES ENLARGE PHOTO: PICHI CHUANG/REUTERS
Of course, the real reason for this diplomatic kabuki was that when the U.S. began to open up relations with Beijing, both the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China claimed sovereignty over the island of Taiwan and the mainland of China—in spite of the fact that the PRC’s rule was restricted to the latter and the ROC’s writ extended no farther than Taiwan and a few small islands.
Taiwan no longer claims or has any hope of governing anything but the islands. This is particularly true of Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Party members are very clear about their belief that Taiwan is not part of China, a view supported by polls that consistently show only a very small percentage of Taiwanese think of themselves as Chinese for civic purposes. As with Italian-Americans or Irish-Americans, being ethnically Chinese doesn’t mean one wants to live in, or be ruled by, the country of your ancestors.
This isn’t a matter that’s likely to go away, and it will likely become more pressing in the months ahead. Polls in Taiwan point to a victory by the DPP candidate, Tsai Ing-wen, in January’s presidential election, and a possible DPP majority in the elections for the national legislature. These elections come on the heels of last year’s local and municipal elections in which the other major party, the Nationalists, who are much more sympathetic to the idea of “one China,” suffered their worst-ever defeat.
Ms. Tsai and the DPP leadership have made it clear that they don’t intend to roil the cross-Strait waters by pushing for a dramatic change in the status quo. But China’s President Xi Jinping in 2013 told a Taiwanese government interlocutor that, when it comes to fulfilling Beijing’s “one China” goal of uniting the island with the mainland, “these issues cannot be passed on from generation to generation.” Mr. Xi’s more assertive Chinese nationalism will rest uneasily with the new leadership in Taipei.
The coming election in Taiwan will be a test of whether Beijing is truly a rising power of the modern, benign sort—as it so often claims—or more akin to the rising, not-so-benign, powers of the 19th century. It will also be a test for Washington.
Relations with Beijing remain important. But anyone looking at a map of East Asia must recognize the strategic centrality of Taiwan. To its immediate north lies Japan. To its south, the Philippines. Both are allies with which the U.S. has security treaties. Taiwan’s surrounding waters are vital military and commercial sea lanes. Allowing China to bully democratic Taiwan into global isolation, or giving the leadership in Beijing the sense that it has leverage over U.S. policies toward the island, would create more instability, not less.
The U.S. can reverse this dynamic. It can start by inviting Taiwan’s military to participate in joint and multilateral exercises; by expanding the transfer of defense articles Taiwan needs; by allowing for more frequent and substantive visits by cabinet members from both countries; by sponsoring a more substantive role for Taiwan in international bodies; and by endorsing Taiwan’s bid to become a signatory to the Trans-Pacific Partnership once the trade pact is up and running.
In short, the U.S. should aim to normalize relations as much as possible, overturning the self-imposed strictures on relations that are required neither by domestic nor international law. Bringing democratic Taiwan in from the cold is as important as Washington’s opening to Cuba—arguably far more so.
Mr. Schmitt is director of the American Enterprise Institute’s Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies.
（德國之聲中文網）週四，北京司法機關對中國記者高瑜進行二審判決引發國際關注。週五（11月27日），瑞士《新蘇黎世報》就北京法院對高瑜的二審判決發表了一篇題為"擔心形象受損"（Angst vor Imageverlust）的文章。作者稱："週四，身陷囹圄和患有重病的高瑜經歷了跌宕起伏的一天。先是北京最高法院拒絕出於人道停止對其關押，僅將一審刑期7 減少到5年 。但是當天晚上，北京第三中級人民法院又宣布，因醫院檢查確診高瑜身患有嚴重疾病，決定對她其暫予監外執行。"
《新蘇黎世報》的文章作者認為，"醫院的診斷以及對高瑜暫時監外執行的判決也可以解釋為是中國當權者擔心身患重病的高難以將'牢底坐穿'。這位知名 記者的命運 在國際上引起高度關注，令中國的聲譽受損。本 週，德國聯邦政府人權政策和人道主義援助專員施特雷塞爾（ Christoph Strässer）在中德人權對話的框架內談到高瑜一案並要求中國政府出於人道釋放高瑜。"