On December 9th, 2003, George W Bush met with Wen Jiabao, premiere of the People's Republic of China. The discussed several things, including North Korea and currency, but the most important issue, and the one that most interests me, is the issue of Taiwanese independence.
In the following press conference, Bush stated his condition rather clearly:
We oppose any unilateral decision by either China or Taiwan to change the status quo. And the comments and actions made by the leader of Taiwan indicate that he may be willing to make decisions unilaterally to change the status quo, which we oppose.
In many ways, this is a rather sane policy to have. After all, Taiwan already enjoys de facto independence, and Chen Shuibian's desire to push for recognition in name and not just in fact seems a bit reckless and unneccesary. In addition, China's help is needed to help talk North Korea into giving up it's nuclear weapons program.
On the other hand, it seems odd that Bush, whose stated policy seems to be that a democratic nation has a right to take whatever means neccesary, whether or not sanctioned by International Law or custom, to defend itself; would condemn one of East Asia's richest and most vibrant democracies right to self-determination,especially when dealing with a country that has a human rights record that is not fully tolerable by most standards, especially Bush's sometimes self-righteous ones. In other words, it is a rather interesting time to start playing realpolitik.
I talked with my teacher about this the other day, she said it seems that the United States seeks closer ties with the Mainland while shunning Taiwan. I did say this is just the usual politics, but it does make me curious. To all extants and purposes, Bush seems sincere in his self-righteousness, so his desire to cozy up with people who would put him in prison for his stated beliefs, while ignoring the desires of the Taiwanese people to choose their own destiny, seems curious, to say the least. I can not tell whether this is another twist in realpolitik or just the heavy cognitive dissonance of a unsophisticated administration.