10/12/2008

John McCain's Statement on Taiwan

I came across this recent statement (October 7) from John McCain, the Republican candidate for US President. In it, I find strong support for the Taiwan Relations Act, weapon sales and Taiwan's democracy. McCain refers to this island as Taiwan and not the Republic of China. China is simply China, not the mainland or PRC:

"ARLINGTON, VA — I welcome reports indicating that the sale of defensive arms to Taiwan — a package that has been on hold for too long — will now move forward. By notifying Congress of its intent to provide weapons aimed at bolstering Taiwan’s self defense, the administration is taking a step in the right direction. I have long supported such sales in order to strengthen deterrence in the Taiwan Strait and to help preserve the peace. American interests in Asia are well-served through faithful implementation of the Taiwan Relations Act, and if I am fortunate enough to be elected President, I will continue the longstanding and close ties between our peoples.

In that spirit, however, I note that the administration has refrained from providing all of the elements requested by Taiwan for its legitimate security requirements. For example, the package will not include submarines or new F-16 aircraft. I urge the administration to reconsider this decision, in light of its previous commitment to provide submarines and America’s previous sales of F-16s. These sales — which could translate into tens of thousands of jobs here at home — would help retain America’s edge in the production of advanced weaponry and represent a positive sign in these difficult economic times.

We should seek cooperative and productive relations with China that proceed in a spirit of confidence, and we should promote the improvement of cross-strait relations. As we do, however, we should understand that the possibility of productive ties between Taiwan and China are enhanced, not diminished, when Taipei speaks from a position of strength. I believe that America should continue to sell defensive weapons to Taiwan in the future, in accordance with its security requirements, and stand by this remarkable free and democratic people.”

Actually, I was reading through an account of Sarah Palin's foreign policy experience by Mother Jones, which led me to the above statement. Under Alaska's Open Records Act, the magazine has obtained 562 pages tracking the Governor's daily meetings. The records show that she has had 20 meetings totaling 12 hours with foreign officials, and one of those hours goes to Taiwan: "April 16, 2007 -- Palin and a few aides meet with Taiwanese officials for an hour." From what I can tell, it's her second longest meeting: http://www.motherjones.com/mojoblog/archives/2008/10/10162_palin_calendars_foreign_policy_experience.html Why Palin did not mention this hour when Katie Couric was cleaning her clock is beyond me.

Going back to the McCain statement, I don't find any reference to upholding the "status quo". Instead, cross strait relations should be improved. For me, this is good news because I see the "status quo" as including over a 1000 ballistic missiles pointed this way.

Here's Barack Obama addressing the "status quo" to Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi on the floor of the senate, May 23, 2007:

"China's rise offers great opportunity but also poses serious challenges ... This means maintaining our military presence in the Asia-Pacific region, strengthening our alliances, and making clear to both Beijing and Taipei that a unilateral change in the status quo in the Taiwan Strait is unacceptable." Does that mean the missiles should stay where they are?

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