川普政府的亞洲安全戰略—不連貫的政策與不確定的未來

 

司徒文
台灣大學國際學院客座教授

 

有報導指出川普政府即將在今年秋天發表一系列外交政策立場的白皮書,其中包括整體的國家安全戰略規劃,然而川普政府截至目前為止在外交政策上充斥著矛盾與不一致的現象,這些問題恐怕並不會因此而得到改善。

川普總統的人格特質使得推測的工作困難重重

要正確評估川普政府亞洲政策的方向並不容易,以下是幾個主要的原因:川普本身帶有自我感覺良好、漫不經心與喜怒無常的人格特質,對於歷史資料、美國政策和世界局勢的最基本事實也渾然不知,而且顯然沒有能力、也沒有意願多加傾聽和學習。這種以管窺豹到可憐地步的世界觀,反應出他含著金湯匙出生、用大半輩子投入不動產領域、將自己名字當成品牌經營、舉辦選美比賽以及擔任電視節目主持人的貧乏人生經驗。

這使得川普政府在外交政策上三不五時就會陷入這種胡言亂語的窘境。三月的時候,川普對德國總理梅克爾表示,德國貿易談判代表的表現比美國的代表優秀許多,這句話讓梅克爾感到一頭霧水,因為美國和德國事實上從來沒有針對貿易協定進行過任何談判,川普還誣指德國欠美國「很大一筆錢」。四月接受《華爾街日報》專訪時,川普表示韓國「過去的確曾經是中國的一部份」,雖然川普隨即說這是習近平告訴他的,但是這可並不是事實。五月的時候,川普公開宣稱如果能見到北韓獨裁領導者金正恩,將會是「很榮幸」的一件事;對於被控打著反毒名義就隨意殘殺數千名毒販與嫌犯的菲律賓總統杜特蒂,川普甚至表示歡迎對方前往白宮一遊。

 

這些明顯違背事實,或者說最起碼也是不重視細節的輕率言論,似乎也相當程度傳染給白宮的官員了。白宮於七月發表的一份聲明中,居然把習近平說成是「中華民國」而不是「中華人民共和國」的國家主席,另外也誤將安倍晉三當成日本的總統而不是總理,甚至就連加拿大總理的名字賈斯汀(Justin Trudeau)都能叫錯成喬(Joe)了。

川普邀請金正恩和杜特蒂的舉動,象徵川普政府在外交政策導向上另一個最讓人感到傷腦筋的問題——他經常批評盟邦、朋友和鄰國,反之卻明顯對獨裁領導人流露出好感,特別是對普丁和習近平這兩個施政方針都有礙美國利益的國家領導人。

接二連三的謊言

我們也要小心應付川普扭曲事實和胡說八道的毛病,根據《華盛頓郵報》在八月25日的統計調查結果揭曉,川普總統自入主白宮這218天以來,就已經提出1,094則錯誤或具誤導性的說詞——平均一天五則。

《紐約時報》在七月21日也有一則類似的追蹤報導,指出川普自就任以來已經撒了116個謊,其中跟外交政策有關的不實陳述包括:

  • 「造假媒體走開,說什麼『川普改變了對中國的立場』,我才沒有改變立場」(事實上,他就是改變了
  • 「在談到操弄匯率的時候,我的確曾經表示過,如果中國繼續執迷不悟的話,那我就會在上任後不久,指控他們是匯率操縱國。之後,我真的選上了總統,而他們——在一得知我勝選之後——的第一件事情,就是停止操弄」(中國其實早在2014年就已經放寬匯率的浮動空間了
  • 「中國將獲准再額外興建好幾百座火力發電廠,這個意思是說,如果依照(氣候變遷)協議執行的話,我們不能蓋電廠,但是他們可以。印度也是,他們到2020年為止,碳排放量還有增加一倍的空間」(該協議其實並未涉及准或不准設立火力發電廠的議題
  • 「和墨西哥的貿易赤字已經逼近700億美元,就連和加拿大之間也有著170億美元的貿易赤字」(事實上,美國在2016年對加拿大不但不是貿易赤字,反而還享有81億美元的貿易盈餘;而美國對墨西哥商品貿易赤字的金額也是644億美元
  • 「你們知道嗎,跟過去相比,我們在北大西洋公約組織省下了好幾十億美元——這一切都是因為我的緣故」(美國早在2014年就已經針對要求北約國家提高經費負擔一事,進行協商了

找不到人的川普政府仍舊分崩離析

另一個有礙美國將來政策走向的問題,出在川普政府在很多重要的高階職位上都還找不到派任人選,當中最嚴重的,莫過於國務院到現在居然還找不到專責處理東亞與太平洋事務的助理國務卿,以及在面對北韓危機的當下居然派不出駐南韓大使。不僅如此,國務卿提勒森(Rex Tillerson)打算大幅精簡國務院人力、刪減31%經費支出的計畫不但從來沒有停過,還打算從政府部門以外引進顧問公司進行國務院的組織再造。根據《外交政策》(Foreign Policy在七月31日的報導:「來意不善的白宮在刪減(國務院的)預算時毫不手軟,沒什麼淵源的領導人刪除了許多職位跟專案計畫,國務院的氣氛也從來沒有如此低迷過。」

更禍不單行的問題,則是川普政府的幕僚群對於政策走向一直陷入分裂與內鬥的窘境,對中政策就是一個相當明顯的例子。出身自美國投資銀行界的官員像是財政部部長梅努欽(Steve Mnuchin)、國家經濟委員會主席孔恩(Gary Cohn)和副國家安全顧問鮑爾(Dina Powell)都比較傾向維持傳統美、中之間的關係,亦即就整體而言,維持雙邊關係的重要性優於計較零星的利益衝突——雖然這樣的衝突不勝枚舉。梅努欽、孔恩和鮑爾三人之前都曾任職於投資銀行高盛,而高盛其中一個主要的獲利來源就是中國,就連川普的女婿庫希納(Jared Kushner)也屬於這個陣營——他需要仰賴中國買主的青睞好延續家族經營的不動產事業,至於他的太太、川普自己的女兒伊凡卡(Ivanka Trump)所經營的自有品牌中,也是有許多商品是由中國所生產製造的。

相較之下,白宮顧問納瓦羅(Peter Navarro)和甫離職的巴農(Steve Bannon)兩人對中國的態度就強硬了許多,商務部部長羅斯(Wilbur Ross)雖然也是投資銀行業者出身,但是從新聞報導不難看出其在對中貿易議題上也採取較強硬的主張,另外像是國安會亞太資深主任蒲亭杰(Matt Pottinger)基於過去多年擔任記者的工作經驗,也對中國有更深入透徹的認知。最重要的是,主張捍衛台灣的國防部部長馬蒂斯(James Mattis)其態度之強硬,與中國相較也毫不遜色。報導指出,馬蒂斯在六月於新加坡所舉行的「香格里拉對談」(Shangri-La Dialogue)中挑明,儘管他很清楚美國不會更改一中政策,但是卻無礙於幫助台灣完成自我防衛,這一席公開承諾讓北京方面怒不可遏:

『國防部將堅定維持與台灣民選政府之間的合作,提供一切必要的防衛武器,信守美國在《台灣關係法》當中的義務,這都是因為我們支持以台灣海峽兩岸人民都能接受的和平方式,解決所有爭端。』

會議中的中國人民解放軍代表一如預期地反對馬蒂斯的說法,反對美國提供任何軍售給台灣,指責馬蒂斯居然無視美中簽署三公報的重要性。

馬蒂斯對於南海問題的看法也同樣讓北京方面火冒三丈:

『不論從哪個角度來看,中國在南海構築工事的規模和效應都與區域內的其他國家大不相同,這意味著軍事化的本質。中國不顧國際法的規範,藐視其他國家的利益,使得以非對抗性手段解決問題的方式變得困難重重。』

『我們反對任何國家將人工島礁軍事化以利提出專屬領海主權的行為,這種行為並不符合國際法的規範。我們不能、也不會接受單方面強行改變現狀的作法。無論是在什麼地方,只要是符合國際法的規範,我們都將繼續維持海運與空運的航行與相關作業,在南海及周邊區域以實地操作的方式,展現我們的決心。我們在這個區域的各種活動將展現我們的意志,捍衛我們受到國際法保障的利益和自由。』

美國軍方和情治系統通常是最在意中國對美國利益會造成威脅的兩大單位,自然也是對看好美、中關係發展這種論點最感到憂心忡忡的一群人。以中央情報局局長龐皮歐(Mike Pompeo)在七月26日接受《華盛頓自由燈塔》(Washington Free Beacon記者葛茨(Bill Gertz)的專訪為例,他直言不諱指出中國就長期而言將會是美國最大的威脅來源:

『以中、長期來看的話…,相較於其他(國家)而言,中國擁有最足以對抗美國的實力,(中國快速成長的軍力)大量集中在如何對抗美國軍力投射的能力。所以不管是在南海或是在東海,在地球的另一端你都會看到他們在這方面的努力。…如果想要進一步取得更多資訊,他們就會試圖竊取我們的情資,或是加強反情報的工作,最常見的當然是雙管齊下。…這麼說吧,我們和中國有著各式各樣的關係,跟中國之間的商業往來也很密切,但是我還是認為,當他們思考自己在世界局勢中的定位時,他們用來界定自己在世界上佔有一席之地的方式,就是能夠和美國一對一,而不是和任何其他國家相互較量。這一點是毋庸置疑的。』

『換一種方式來說的話,我想,當中國人站上國際舞台的時候,他們也會自認為是另一股帶有對抗色彩的強權國家,所以會試圖透過他們所認定的情報工作表現出他們也是強權國家的樣貌。所以說呢,就我們目前所知,有些人是受命於總參三部(3PLA),有些人則來自於其他更不可考的單位。不過不管他們來自於哪裡,他們都會竭盡所能取得情資,…他們的任務都帶有在美、中單獨對抗的關係中,削減美國相對優勢的目的,而達成任務的其中一種方式,就是透過這些層出不窮刺探工作,透過各種的間諜行為。』

葛茨身為《華盛頓自由燈塔》的編輯,他之前也採訪了中國備受爭議的鉅富郭文貴。郭文貴曾經躋身中國的菁英階級,據說跟中國的情報部門也有著密切的往來,由他公開爆料中國針對美國的間諜活動,無疑更強化了中情局局長對於中國威脅論的觀點。郭文貴指稱北京方面在過去五十多年來一直在美國境內發展間諜組織,當中包括將近25,000名情報系統的政府官員,還有超過15,000名受雇於中國的美國情報工作者,並且自2012年起積極擴展間諜活動的範圍。雖然這些數字可能有些誇大,但是中國間諜活動對美國造成的威脅卻是不爭的事實。

川普對待台、中的態度也搖擺不定

不只是美國軍方和情治單位的領導人,就連美國國會也密切關注來自於中國的威脅,而川普總統的態度雖然搖擺不定,但是大致上還是採取了比較偏重中國的立場。競選期間不時對中國提出強烈的批判,去年十二月2日還和台灣蔡英文總統在電話上互動愉快,想不到川普旋即改弦更張,回歸到美國比較老派作風的政策基調對待中國和台灣。十二月11日,川普在推特上發文表示「除非我們和中國之間達成交易,否則我不曉得為什麼我們自己要被一個中國政策給綁著…」——言外之意彷彿台灣只是在談判桌上的籌碼。

另一方面,國務卿提勒森在任命聽證會上特別向台灣再次保證:「台灣人民是美國的朋友,不應該被當成談判籌碼。美國對台灣不但負有法律上的承諾,同時帶有道德上的義務」,尤其值得注意的是他再次重申了「六大保證」,而其中之一就是美國不會改變對於台灣主權所秉持的立場。

然而川普總統在四月6、7兩日於海湖莊園(Mar-a-Lago)與中國國家領導人習近平會面時,似乎又誤以為自己與習近平建立了一定的默契,以為習近平有辦法制住北韓,以為中國會開始逐步削減對美國的龐大貿易順差。雖然川普當時還沒有從習近平身上得到任何具體的承諾,但是卻已經迫不及待地歌頌自己在腦海中與中國領導人所建立的友誼:「我們之間的互動良好,對彼此都有好感。我蠻喜歡他的,他的夫人也很棒」,但是他也承認「到目前為止我還一無所獲,什麼都沒有」,接著還補了一句「但是我們已經搭起友誼的橋樑——我可以感受到這一點——而且我認為再多經過一些時間之後,我們會有非常、非常要好的關係,我真的非常期待這樣的結果。」

就算在北韓問題都還沒取得任何進展,川普總統還是一樣給與習近平高度評價。當中國遭受監禁的異議人士暨諾貝爾和平獎得主劉曉波在七月13日過世的時候,川普還是——在巴黎與法國總統馬克宏一起舉行聯合記者會的時候——把習近平稱做朋友,而且是一位值得尊敬、了不起的領袖:「他是非常能幹的人,在我眼中,他是個很好的人,他熱愛中國,我可以跟你保證,他真的非常愛中國,希望能夠為中國做一些正確的事情。」

有關於前述他早些時日曾大力譴責的中國貿易政策,川普的確在海湖莊園與習近平達成協議,希望能夠用一百天的時間,趕在美、中展開全面性經濟對話之前解決雙邊貿易失衡的問題。當七月19日正式進入洽談會時,中國很快就讓川普的希望落空,不但拒絕提供明確的數字作為貿易順差縮減的目標,在鋼鐵產能過剩的問題上也毫無作為,還同時拒絕了降低美國汽車關稅的要求、反對在開放金融市場上做出更大的讓步,也不願意鬆綁資料在地化的規定。

身為中國代表團團長的副總理汪洋反過來批評他口中「美國過時的出口管制規定」才是不利於美國「出口高科技產品、重要設備與關鍵零組件給中國」的問題所在。中國類似這樣的反駁可以說是司空見慣,念及中國是世界上最會侵害智慧財產權的不名譽記錄已經廣為人知(川普政府在八月12日宣佈要對中國侵害智慧財產權的行為展開調查),其言外之意不外乎是想要從更多尖端科技的產品中竊取機密。總而言之,八○年代末期北京外商公司稱之為「友誼貿易」(friendship business)的現象很值得川普政府借鏡:「你把資金和技術交給中國人,換回來的,是中國人交給你的友誼。」

直到北韓在七月28日發射的洲際彈道飛彈墜落在日本的專屬經濟海域後,川普總統這才終於了解自己恭維習近平的友善語言根本沒有發揮任何作用。發火的他在七月30日的推文上寫著:

「中國實在太讓我失望了。我們過去那些笨蛋領導人讓他們每年從這裡賺走好幾千億美元,但是他們在北韓問題上給我們的幫助卻是空空如也,只有空口說白話而已。我們再也不該讓這個現象繼續下去,中國明明可以輕鬆解決這個問題的!」

其實中國對美國的政策也很感冒…

以中國的角度來看,他們也可以條列出許多美國讓他們不快的理由:

  • 華府在六月29日宣佈提供台灣總值達2億美元的軍售案
  • 華府還在同一天宣佈,不論是個別的中國人還是中國企業,只要和北韓有貿易往來,就要處以一連串的制裁措施。名單上包含一家中國船運公司和中國的丹東銀行,美國指控他們在北韓從事非法的金融活動
  • 川普政府也授意在南海增加維護「自由航行權」的操練。一艘美軍導彈驅逐艦在五月24日駛進中國於南沙群島美濟礁(Mischief Reef)所構築人工島礁的12海浬內,七月2日,另一艘美軍導彈驅逐艦也在台、中、越三方都宣稱擁有主權的中建島(Triton Island)12海浬內,航行穿越西沙群島,這是川普就任以來第二次類似的操練。八月10日,又一艘美軍驅逐艦在美濟礁的12海浬內航行經過,這是美軍維護「自由航行權」的第三次操練

…而且美國國會從未中斷對台灣的支持

美國國會一直以來設法強化台、美關係的努力,也同樣讓中國感到十分不快。雖然以下的草案不見得真能完成立法生效,但是卻象徵著美國國會一向不顧中國反對而給予台灣從未中斷的支持:

  • 六位美國眾議院議員在五月4日提出了《台灣旅遊法》(Taiwan Travel Act修正先前兩項國會決議,旨在促進更多不論層級的台、美官員互訪,而不是予以重重限制
  • 六月28日,參議院軍事委員會(Senate Armed Services Committee)通過一項決議,同意恢復美軍軍艦前往台灣港口停泊訪問。這是美國自1979年採行一個中國政策以後首次通過類似的提案,該決議亦要求五角大廈提出協助台灣自主發展水面下軍事力量的計畫,並建議要和台北加強戰略合作的關係
  • 接下來在七月24日,參議員柯頓(Cotton)和賈德納(Gardner)提出《台灣安全法案》(Taiwan Security Act,除了要求雙方高階軍事與外交官員進行交流、每年與台灣進行戰略對話外,還要邀請台灣參加美國海、空軍的演習,以及開放台、美兩國的港口進行軍艦互訪
  • 眾議院外交委員會亞太小組主席約霍(Ted Yoho)在七月24日提出一項法案,意欲協助台灣取得世界衛生組織完整的會員資格。這項法案將要求國務院致力於保障台灣參與世界衛生組織的年度大會,並支持台灣繼續參與其他世界衛生組織的活動

 

在一連串對中國採取負面、正面然後又轉為負面的描述後,總結下來,美國對中國和對台灣的政策並沒有根本性的改變,但是隨著北韓問題、南海問題、台海問題和貿易爭端都變得越來越棘手,美國整體看待中國的態度也只能說是每況愈下,而美國看待台灣的態度相形之下——尤其是美國國會——都一直維持正面的立場。雖然川普總統對北約和其他美國盟邦如日本嚴詞批評,但是最終還是發覺必須加強與盟邦之間的關係。北韓問題實際上已經造成強化美國與日、韓關係的效果,而且不管川普個人對普丁、習近平有多高的評價,不論他有多想改善美國和俄羅斯及中國的關係,美國和這些主要對手之間的關係也只有變得更糟而已。

在前任歐巴馬總統的兩任任期內,也不乏類似逐步升高對中國立場的例子,最明顯的兩個例子,莫過於時任國務卿的希拉蕊刊登在2011年十月號《外交政策》上,首次揭櫫美國把「重心」移往亞洲尋求再平衡的文章,以及在2016年二月4日簽署通過的《跨太平洋夥伴協定》(TPP)入會磋商。

姑且不論在競選期間聲嘶力竭、激憤莫名下所開出的選舉支票有多少,目前川普最重大的政策轉向可以說是讓美國退出跨太平洋夥伴協定——這是一個思慮不週的決定,戕害了美國能夠在亞洲借力使力尋求戰略與經濟效益的空間。退出《巴黎氣候協定》可以說是另一個重大的政策轉向,不過我們還不清楚如果要著手提倡環保並減少美國碳足跡的話,會對美國經貿、州政府、地方政府和社會大眾的整體信任度造成多大程度的影響。

美國還是太過在意中東地區和恐怖主義

或許我們還可以提出另一個較微妙的政策轉向。歐巴馬總統特別看重亞洲對於美國未來的重要性,因此想要從伊拉克和阿富汗撤軍,並且在大方向上做出避免太過涉入敘利亞和中東地區的決定,而川普卻捨棄了這樣的觀點。雖然媒體報導指出,川普並不認為在經過16年之後,派出更多的軍隊進駐阿富汗能夠解決該國的諸多問題,但是川普實際上派駐中東和阿富汗的兵力卻是有增無減。

將注意力放在伊拉克、敘利亞和阿富汗,反應出川普和他政府內許多曾在中東與阿富汗服役的高階官員,客觀上還是太過於在意恐怖主義了。持平而論,由於美國液壓探鑽頁岩油的技術提昇了能源自主性,中東地區的經濟與戰略價值也就快速下降了。CNN製作的圖表告訴我們一個令人驚訝的趨勢,除了911那場災難造成近三千人罹難外,國內持槍施暴對於美國公民的威脅,其實遠比恐怖主義來得大的多。

 

北韓問題對美國而言當然是如鯁在喉,但是除此之外,我們並不確定川普總統是否對亞洲投以足夠的關注,也不曉得美國和日、韓兩國的關係會不會因為貿易摩擦與軍費分攤歧見的問題而惡化。川普想要單靠中國解決北韓核武問題的想法,顯示出美國外交體系自柯林頓總統以來的辛苦付出都被他輕率地忽略了。退出《跨太平洋夥伴協定》的決定,顯示美國透過協商取得的貿易優勢,以及美國需要和害怕中國、卻在經濟上依賴中國的亞洲國家建立更密切關係的戰略佈局,都同樣不被川普當成一回事。

行筆至此,就不難發現要掌握川普亞洲政策的一貫性有多麼困難了。除了「美國優先」(American First)這樣的口號之外,我們只能從推特上看到他不時流露出憤恨不平的推文,看不到他正向的目標和明確的走向。既然如此,無論川普之後採取什麼行動,我謹在此提出一些想法,說明將來要面對的亞洲局勢。

北韓核武問題仍將無解

北韓在九月3日進行了第六次核武試爆,據稱測試的是更具殺傷力的氫彈,這是北韓又一次的公然挑釁,預告了北韓的核武問題將會繼續惡化下去,問題是一旦爆發衝突的話,沒有任何人能夠從中得利,即使是北韓自己亦然,這一點其實並沒有什麼改變。難就難在金正恩的難以捉摸,還有川普總統充滿情緒性的推文也同樣難以預測,使得朝鮮半島的局勢只會繼續動盪下去而已。

這個結果會讓南韓及日本更願意提高軍備,並發展更先進的武器系統。以南韓為例,除了先前同意部署的薩德飛彈防禦系統外,政府官員還在七月29日宣佈要和川普政府協商更進一步強化自身的彈道飛彈系統。南韓在1979年同意接受美國提出的彈道飛彈發展方針,將飛彈的射程上限設定在180公里,隨後在2001年提升到300公里,接著又在2012年提升到800公里,現在他們將尋求更多升級的空間,而為了回應北韓在九月3日進行的核武試爆,南韓也已經表態要安裝更多的薩德飛彈防禦系統做為反制。

值得注意的是,南韓民眾普遍遠比日本更樂意思考自行發展核武的可能。2016年九月蓋洛普在南韓進行民調,在回應的受訪者當中,有58%的人支持發展核武,而且這次調查的時間點遠在北韓新近進行其他長程飛彈試射以及核武試爆之前,相較之下,另一家民調公司Genron在2016年的調查結果卻顯示只有5%的日本人願意支持自己的國家發展核武。說到底,日本是華府唯一同意可以從美國取得核燃料進行加工的國家,這會讓日本在做出決定時,能夠迅速取得所需的技術發展核武。雖然就短期或中期來看,日本的政治氣氛極不可能發展核武,但是如果把時間拉長就難以預料了。中國多年來對北韓的援助,其最終結局卻是讓中國踏進最恐懼的夢魘之中。

美、中關係將持續下探

美、中關係可能會繼續探底。中國一直不願意給予北韓足夠的壓力使其放棄發展核武與導彈的計畫,這已經讓華府許多人急於對與北韓有貿易往來的中國公司施加更嚴厲的制裁了。如果八月5日聯合國安理會通過對北韓制裁的決議案在中國全力配合執行下(這在過去從來沒發生過)能夠讓北韓損失三分之一的年度出口金額,美國就更有理由對與北韓有往來的中國公司施加更嚴厲的制裁了。

八月22日,美國財政部一如預料地對十家中國公司(俄羅斯的公司也無法倖免)和六名透過貿易協助北韓發展導彈及核武計畫的中國人施加更嚴厲的制裁,而中國也一如往常地反對這些「片面」的制裁措施,卻不提中國自己在對付其他讓北京感到不快的國家時,也動輒採取在經濟上施壓的手段。為了報復美國在南韓部署薩德飛彈防禦系統,中國逕自禁止部分南韓公司的貿易往來,在中國異議人士劉曉波獲頒諾貝爾和平獎之後,中國也對挪威實施了數年的制裁措施,在蔡英文總統贏得選舉之後,中國也大規模縮減前來台灣觀光的旅客人數。雖然中國揚言美國採取的行動將損及美、中之間的關係,但是這或許是華府目前僅存的外交手段,而且毫無疑問會對美、中之間的關係造成不利的結果。話雖如此,華府或許應該更早打出這張牌才對。

這還不提中國在南海、東海的窮兵黷武、對美國所擁有的鉅額貿易順差、對智慧財產權的侵害,以及不願意在對等基礎上從事貿易與投資的種種作為,在在都讓美國覺得越來越有需要重新調整不符合美國利益的整體對中關係。

內部的政治與經濟局勢也會限制住中國改採能與美國利益共享的彈性空間。雖然習近平很有可能在十九大之後成為中國不容挑戰的領導者,但是別忘了,巨大的社會問題與政治鬥爭還是橫亙在他眼前,治絲益棼的經濟問題也同樣棘手,尤其是和美國的貿易爭端將使得中國對美國的出口受到嚴重影響。

對於台灣而言,美、中之間關係的惡化並不見得是一件好事。自從蔡英文當選總統以後,中國已經採取各種外交、軍事的諸多手段對台灣施壓,要是再和美國之間僵持不下的話,可能會讓中國繼續提升對台灣施壓的力道。而且不得不提的是,美國對中國進行經濟制裁的時候,有可能在無意間對台灣經濟同樣造成負面的影響。

美國必須帶頭支持台灣

這就表示不論是在軍事、貿易還是外交領域,美國都別無選擇必須同時提高對台灣的支持。只要東亞的局勢越不穩定,美國就更應該看重台灣地緣戰略的關鍵角色,而更重要的是,美國與台灣之間的關係在本質上並不像是美國與中國之間的關係,因為美國和台灣有著共享的價值與共同的利益。我強烈認為只要台灣人民秉持民主的信念,美國就必須協助確保台灣的民主體制能夠生生不息,因此我非常樂見華府在六月29日宣佈提供台灣總值達14.2億美元的軍售案,這是川普主政以來首次通過的對台軍售案。

但是在貿易方面,去年六月前往華府拜會一位美國商會代表的結果可就不盡如人意了。好消息是該名代表注意到美國國會有越來越多對台灣「廣泛跨黨派」的支持,「其特徵是同意民主價值和人權維護」這兩項是台灣與美國共享的價值,而壞消息是川普政府的官員強調台灣「除非採取決定性的行動」削減對美國的貿易順差,否則將「很難期待雙邊的經貿關係有什麼長足的進展」,而且包含進口美國牛肉與豬肉在內,台灣「必須處理重大的貿易爭端」。新聞報導指出,儘管北韓在九月3日進行了氫彈等級的核武試爆,仍不影響川普想要廢除美國與韓國之間自由貿易協定的決定,這一點也可以視為台灣在貿易議題方面的警訊。

這就表示讓越來越被中國孤立與打壓的台灣,取得包括澳洲、印度、日本和南韓在內等民主國家共同支持的重要性與日俱增。現在川普政府已經一反競選期間的態度,不斷強調日本與南韓兩個盟邦的重要性,而這兩個盟國也需要深入思考一下,一旦台灣不再能夠捍衛自己的領土主權,對他們而言意味著什麼樣的戰略意義。日本安倍首相所領導的政府已經或多或少往支持台灣的方向移動,但是南韓夠不夠重視台灣地緣關係的重要性還猶未可知。

…但是台灣也要在自我防衛的工作上多下點工夫

基本上,台灣本身當然也要持續加強國防的力量,還要提振經濟、提升貿易夥伴的多樣性,並且落實切中要害的社會與教育改革。

台灣當然需要在改善與美國的雙邊貿易上再多付出一點。非常支持台、美關係的台北美國商會在2017年的白皮書中提到,2016年總計提出80項有待解決的雙邊貿易障礙中,台灣不但沒有一項能夠徹底解決,就連有顯著進展的項目也不過區區八項而已。

台灣更需要特別重視的當然還是加強國家安全。一位重量級的美國資深官員在六月初向前往華府拜會的台北論壇基金會代表表示,台灣過去的國家安全「建立在中國的自我克制,以及美國介入戰爭的可能上」。雖然他說美國還是會繼續協助台灣加強防衛,但是再過四年或八年以後,沒有人知道局勢將會如何演變,特別是如果台灣無法在國防自主上多下工夫的話。

這位官員也注意到,台灣根本不可能透過實行全募兵制的想法建立武裝力量,那樣只會降低台灣軍隊的戰力和戰時動員的能量,而且台灣欠缺強大且隨時能應戰的後備軍力,這一點和以色列、瑞士有別的差異也令人憂心忡忡。還有一點,儘管前任總統馬英九一再主張全募兵制能夠節省軍費,但是美軍顧問早就當著他的面一再反駁,說明全募兵制只會更花錢而不是更省錢。總歸一句話,如果台灣希望在爆發武裝衝突時能夠爭取到美國輿論的支持,則台灣的國家安全政策就必須要向美國展現出自我防衛的決心。

所以說,台灣有沒有增加國防預算,有沒有檢討並調整建立防衛能力與後備戰力的人力需求,有沒有用更嚴格的法律規範和行政措施杜絕中國方面的間諜活動與網路攻擊,都是些關鍵的課題。

四年前的秋天我剛從美國外交體系退休,在卸下美國在台協會處長一職後沒幾個月就曾經在台灣安保協會所舉辦的這個研討會上發表過演說,當時的主題是「國家安全與台灣的未來」。身為非常關心台灣未來的堅定友人,我在當時曾說過,現在還要再重複一次——我在四年前曾說過「我非常擔心台灣的狀況,而我的擔心是因為我有時候認為台灣人的危機意識不夠強烈」,即使到了今天,我的顧慮仍然依舊。

那時候的我就跟現在一樣,還是深信堅實的國防力量是台灣能從容不迫處理與北京關係的最穩固基礎,也是穩定台海局勢、促成區域安全的重要因素。國防實力也是台灣做為民主國家持續進步與繁榮的基礎。不論是在過去還是在未來,台灣的命運最終還是要交由台灣人民自己決定。

翻譯:陳以禮 台灣安保協會秘書長

 


 

The Trump Administration’s Asian Security Strategy: Incoherent Policies and an Uncertain Future

William A. Stanton
Professor, International College National Taiwan University

The Trump Administration will reportedly release this fall a series of foreign policy position papers, including an overall National Security Strategy. Nonetheless, the contradictions and incoherence that have marked President Trump’s foreign policies thus far unfortunately seem likely to continue.

PRESIDENT TRUMP’S FLAWS MAKE PREDICTIONS DIFFICULT

Key reasons for the difficulties we face in assessing the direction of Trump’s policies toward Asia include: Trump’s narcissistic, inattentive, and mercurial temperament; his ignorance of the most fundamental facts of history, U.S. policy, and world politics; his apparent inability and unwillingness to study, listen, and learn; and his woefully limited vision of the world reflecting inherited wealth and a life largely spent selling real estate, promoting his name as a brand, running beauty pageants, and hosting a TV game show.

There are daily examples in Trump’s foreign policy of these inadequacies. In March Trump told a bemused German Chancellor Merkel that German trade negotiators had done a much better job than U.S. counterparts, a claim belied by the fact that the United States and Germany never negotiated a trade agreement. He also falsely claimed that Germany owed the United States “vast sums of money.” In an interview with the Wall Street Journal in April, Trump claimed that Korea “actually used to be part of China” a claim that is not true even though, as Trump said, Xi Jinping told him so. In May Trump publicly declared that he would be “honored” to meet the North Korean dictator Kim Jung-un, and offered a visit to the White House to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte who is accused of leading an anti-drug campaign that has murdered thousands of alleged drug dealers.

This oblivious disregard for fact, or at least inattention to details, appears to have infected the White House at large. In a July statement, the White House called Xi Jinping the President of the “Republic of China” instead of the People’s Republic of China. The White House also incorrectly described Shinzo Abe as the President of Japan, rather than Prime Minister, and called the Canadian Prime Minister of Canada “Joe” rather than Justin Trudeau.

Trump’s invitations to Kim and Duterte were symptomatic of another one of the most troubling aspects of Trump’s foreign policy orientation — his frequent criticism of allies, friends, and neighbors and, in contrast, his apparent fondness for authoritarian leaders, especially Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, who lead countries and formulate policies that threaten U.S. interests.

 

CONTINUING LIES

We also need to contend with Trump’s distortions of facts and his outright lies. As of August 25, the Washington Post found that as of 218 days since taking office President Trump had made 1,094 false or misleading claims — an average of 5 false claims per day.

The New York Times similarly published on July 21 an updated list of 116 lies Trump had told since taking office. Key falsehoods concerning foreign policy cited by the Times included:

  • “The fake media goes, ‘Donald Trump changed his stance on China.’ I haven’t changed my stance.” (In fact, he did.)
  • When they talk about currency manipulation, and I did say I would call China, if they were, a currency manipulator, early in my tenure. And then I get there.  Number one, they — as soon as I got elected, they stopped.” (China in fact stopped in 2014.)
  • “China will be allowed to build hundreds of additional coal plants. So, we can’t build the plants, but they can, according to this [Climate Change] agreement. India will be allowed to double its coal production by 2020.” (The agreement does not, in fact, allow or disallow building coal plants.)
  • “The trade deficit with Mexico is close to $70 billion, even with Canada it’s a $17 billion trade deficit with Canada.” (The U.S. had an $8.1 billion trade surplus, not deficit, with Canada in 2016 and the U.S trade deficit in goods with Mexico was $64.4 billion.)
  • “You know we’ve gotten billions of dollars more in NATO than we’re getting. All because of me.” (The U.S negotiated a deal increasing NATO contributions in 2014.)

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION STILL UNDERSTAFFED AND DIVIDED

Another problem in determining future U.S. policies is the continuing absence of a large number of personnel in key senior positions. Nowhere is this worse than in the State Department where there is still no Assistant Secretary for East Asia and Pacific Affairs and no Ambassador to South Korea at a time when we are facing a crisis over North Korea. In addition, Secretary Tillerson continues his plans to make drastic cuts in State Department personnel and a proposed 31 percent reduction in funding, and has invited an outside business consultancy to entirely reorganize the Department. As reported by Foreign Policy on July 31, “A hostile White House is slashing its [the State Department’s]budget, the rank and file are cut off from a detached leader, and morale has plunged to historic lows.”

 

Just as important, however, are the continuing divisions and infighting among Trump’s advisors over policy issues. China is a prime example. It is evident that American investment bankers like Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, and Deputy National Security Advisor Dina Powell have favored maintaining the traditional U.S. relationship with China in which the overall relationship outweighs any individual conflicts of interest, of which there are many. Mnuchin, Cohn, and Powell all previously worked for investment bank Goldman Sachs, one of whose principal sources of profits has been China. Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner — whose family real estate business continues to pursue sales to PRC customers – belongs in this group as well, as does his wife and Trump’s daughter Ivanka, many of whose brand-name products are manufactured in China.

In contrast, White House Advisors Peter Navarro and Steve Bannon have taken a much harder line toward China. In addition, Senior NSC Advisor for Asia Matt Pottinger certainly has a clear-eyed understanding of China based on his years of experience working there as a journalist. Most important, Secretary of Defense Mattis has staked out strong positions on Taiwan as well as China. At the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore in June Secretary Mattis reportedly outraged Beijing with an explicit public commitment to help Taiwan defend itself even while noting that the U.S remained committed to its one-China policy:

“The Department of Defense remains steadfastly committed to working with Taiwan and with its democratic government to provide it the defense articles necessary, consistent with the obligations set out in our Taiwan Relations Act. Because we stand for the peaceful resolution of any issues in a manner acceptable to people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.”

PLA representatives at the meeting predictably objected to Mattis’ statement, voiced objections to any U.S. arm sales to Taiwan, and to his failure to cite the Three Joint Communiqués.

Also arousing Beijing’s ire were Mattis’ comments on the South China Sea:

“The scope and effect of China’s construction activities in the South China Sea differ from those in other countries in several key ways. This includes the nature of its militarization, China’s disregard for international law, its contempt for other nations’ interests, and its efforts to dismiss non-adversarial resolution of issues.

“We oppose countries militarizing artificial islands and enforcing excessive maritime claims unsupported by international law. We cannot and will not accept unilateral coercive changes to the status quo. We will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows, and demonstrate resolve through operational presence in the South China Sea and beyond. Our operations throughout the region are an expression of our willingness to defend both our interests and the freedoms enshrined in international law.”

In general, it is the U.S. military and U.S. intelligence communities that are most concerned about the threats China poses to U.S. interests, and who are therefore most wary of upbeat assessments about the future of U.S. – China relations. In a July 26 interview with Bill Gertz for the Washington Free Beacon, for example, CIA Director Mike Pompeo pointed to China as the greatest long-term threat to the United States:

“I think China has the capacity to present the greatest rivalry to American of any [country]…over the medium and long term. [The rapid build-up of the Chinese military is] very much focused on countering U.S. power projection. So you see that whether it’s going on in the South China Sea or East China Sea, the work they’re doing in other parts of the world….If you look at them, they are probably trying either to steal our stuff or make sure they can defeat it. And most often both. ….Look, we have other relationships, we have commercial relationships with the Chinese as well. But I think it’s very clear when they think about their place in the world, they measure their success in placing themselves in the world where they want to be vis-à-vis the United States and not as against anyone else.

“But it is also the case that the Chinese have moved to a place where they, I think, see themselves as a rival superpower and so intend to conduct their version of espionage programs in a way that reflects their superpower status. And so, yeah, we’ve seen it, some of it comes out of 3PLA; and some of it comes from more un-attributable places. But they are working it very, very hard….They have as part of their mission to reduce the relative power of the United States vis-à-vis their own country. And one of the ways they do that is through these active measures, these spying efforts.”

In an earlier July interview with The Washington Free Beacon’s editor Bill Gwertz, controversial exiled Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui(郭文貴), who was part of the PRC elite and reportedly well connected to the PRC intelligence services, publicly made claims about PRC spying against the United States that can only have reinforced the CIA Director’s view of the PRC threat. Guo asserted that over the past 50 years Beijing had developed spy networks in the United States that included up to 25,000 Chinese intelligence officers and more than 15,000 recruited American agents who had increased offensive spying activities since 2012. While the figures may be exaggerated, no one doubts the PRC espionage threat to the United States.
TRUMP’S ERRATIC APPROACH TO THE PRC AND TAIWAN

Despite these strong concerns of U.S. military and intelligence leaders that are also widely shared by the U.S. Congress, President Trump has pursued a generally more favorable but also erratic approach to China. Following frequent, strong criticism of China when he was a candidate and his cordial December 2, 2016 phone conversation with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-Wen, Trump quickly reverted to more traditional U.S. policy lines toward both the PRC and Taiwan. Trump tweeted on December 11, “I don’t know why we have to be bound by a one-China policy unless we make a deal with China…” — raising concerns Taiwan might merely be a bargaining chip.

 

In the course of his confirmation hearing, however, Secretary Tillerson specifically reassured Taiwan that, “The people of Taiwan are friends of the United States and should not be treated as a bargaining chip. The U.S. commitment to Taiwan is both a legal commitment and a moral imperative.” Significantly, he also reaffirmed the “Six Assurances,” one of which guarantees there will be no change in the U.S. position on Taiwan’s sovereignty.

Nonetheless, at President Trump’s April 6-7 meeting with PRC leader Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago, Trump erroneously seemed to think he and Xi had reached a meeting of minds, that somehow Xi would bring North Korea to heel, and that China would take steps to reduce its huge trade surplus with the United States. Despite getting nothing concrete from Xi, Trump was effusive in praising his imagined friendship with the PRC’s ruler: “We have a great chemistry together. We like each other. I like him a lot. I think his wife is terrific.” While admitting that “so far I have gotten nothing, absolutely nothing,” he added, “But we have developed a friendship – I can see that – and I think in the long term we’re going to have a very, very great relationship and I look very much forward to it.”

Despite the absence of any progress on North Korea, President Trump continued to praise Xi Jinping. Only hours after jailed Chinese dissident and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo died on July 13, Trump — in a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris — called Xi a friend and a great leader he respects: “He’s a very talented man. I think he’s a very good man. He loves China, I can tell you. He loves China. He wants to do what’s right for China.”

Foregoing his earlier condemnations of China’s trade policies, Trump did reach an agreement with Xi at Mar-a-Lago for a 100-day effort to resolve bilateral trade differences before the inaugural meeting of the U.S.-China Comprehensive Economic Dialogue. When the meeting convened on July 19, the Chinese quickly deflated Trump’s hopes. China refused to give the U.S. numerical benchmarks for reducing its trade surplus and its steel overcapacity, rejected tariff reductions on U.S autos and greater access to China’s financial markets, and refused to loosen China’s data localization requirements.

Premier Wang Yang, who led the PRC delegation, criticized what he called “outdated U.S. regulations on export controls” which he said undermined U.S. exports of “advanced technologies, key equipment and critical parts to China.” This was of course a familiar Chinese charge, tantamount to an appeal for more advanced technology it could then steal, given China’s well-earned record as the greatest violator of Intellectual Property Rights in the world. (On August 12, the Trump administration announced it would launch an investigation into Chinese intellectual-property violations.)  Overall, it was a lesson for the Trump Administration in what foreigners in Beijing in the late 1980s called “friendship business”: “You give the Chinese money and technology, and they give you their friendship.”

After North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile on July 28 that landed in Japan’s maritime Exclusive Economic Zone, President Trump finally seemed to have realized that his flattery of Xi and words of friendship had accomplished nothing. In tweets on July 30, Trump fumed:

I am very disappointed in China. Our foolish past leaders have allowed them to make hundreds of billions a year in trade, yet they do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk. We will no longer allow this to continue. China could easily solve this problem!”

PRC ALSO UNHAPPY WITH THE U.S. POLICIES…

For its part, China had its own reasons for dissatisfaction with the United States:

  • Washington announced on June 29 arms sales to Taiwan worth USD1.42 billion.
  • The same day, Washington also announced a series of sanctions against Chinese individuals and entities doing business with North Korea, including a Chinese shipping company and China’s Bank of Dandong which the U.S. cited as a conduit for illicit North Korean financial activity.
  • The Trump Administration also approved increased “freedom of navigation” (FON) exercises in the South China Sea. On May 24, a U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer sailed within12 nautical miles of a Chinese controlled artificial island in the Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands. On July 2, in the second such exercise since Trump took office, another U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer sailed through the Paracel Islands within 12 miles of the disputed Triton Island, an island claimed by China, Vietnam, and Taiwan. In a third FON exercise, on August 10 a U.S. destroyer again sailed within 12 miles of Mischief Reef.

.. AND CONTINUING U.S. CONGRESSIONAL SUPPORT FOR TAIWAN

China has also expressed anger over continuing U.S. Congressional efforts to strengthen relations between Taiwan and the United States. While unlikely to be take effect, the following draft legislation is symptomatic of continuing U.S. Congressional support for Taiwan and disaffection from China:

  • On May 4, six U.S. Senators introduced the Taiwan Travel Act, a reiteration of two earlier Congressional bills, which calls for more visits between officials of Taiwan and the United States at all levels instead of restrictions on such visits.
  • On June 28 the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee approved a bill calling for the resumption of port visits to Taiwan by the U.S. Navy for the first time since the United States adopted its one-China policy in 1979. The bill also directs the Pentagon to help Taiwan develop an indigenous undersea warfare program and recommends strengthened strategic cooperation with Taipei.
  • Subsequently, on July 24 Senators Cotton and Gardner introduced the Taiwan Security Act which would mandate senior military and diplomatic exchanges, an annual strategic dialogue with Taiwan, Taiwan’s participation in U.S. naval and air force exercises, U.S. port visits to Taiwan, and Taiwan port visits to the United States.
  • On July 24 Representative Ted Yoho, chairman of the U.S. House Asia and the Pacific Subcommittee, introduced a bill to help Taiwan become a full member of the World Health Organization (WHO). Yoho’s bill would require that the Start Department focus on ensuring Taiwan’s participation in the Annual World Health Assembly and supporting Taiwan’s continued participation in other WHO activities.

 

On balance, therefore, after all of Trump’s both negative, positive, and again negative rhetoric about China, U.S. policies toward the PRC and Taiwan have not radically changed, but overall U.S. attitudes toward China continue to get tougher in the face of continuing differences over North Korea, the South China Sea, Taiwan, and trade. Meanwhile, U.S. attitudes toward Taiwan –especially in Congress — remain positive. Despite his strong criticism of NATO and our alliances with Japan and Tokyo, President Trump has found it necessary to reaffirm these alliances. The North Korean problem has in fact served to strengthen U.S. ties with Japan and Korea. And despite Trump’s seeming infatuation with both Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping and his attempts to improve relations with both Russia and China, overall U.S. relations with these key adversaries are continue to grow worse.

A similar stiffening of the U.S. stance toward China was evident over the course of President Obama’s two terms. This shift was manifest in the U.S. “pivot” or rebalancing toward Asia first announced by Secretary of State Clinton in an article in Foreign Policy in October 2011, as well as in the negotiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement which was signed on February 4, 2016.

Despite the sound and fury of Trump’s campaign pledges, perhaps the most consequential Trump policy change thus far has been his withdrawal of U.S. participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an ill-considered move which has reduced both the strategic and economic leverage of the United States in Asia. Trump’s withdrawal from the Climate Agreement might also be cited, but it remains unclear to what extent it will affect the overall commitment of U.S. businesses, state and local governments, and the American public in general to measures to improve the environment and reduce America’s carbon footprint.

U.S. STILL TOO FOCUSED ON MIDDLE EAST AND TERRORISM

A more subtle shift, however, may be noted in Trump’s departure from President Obama’s focus on the importance of Asia to America’s future, and Obama’s concomitant desire to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, and to avoid further entanglement In Syria and the Middle East in general. Trump has in fact put more U.S. troops into the Middle East and Afghanistan, although, according to media reports, Trump was not convinced that yet more U.S troops in Afghanistan after 16 years there would solve any of that country’ s problems.

Attention to Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan appears to reflect an objectively unjustified preoccupation with terrorism by both Trump and his many senior officials who served with the U.S. military in the Middle East and Afghanistan. Nonetheless, given the growing energy independence of the U.S. because of fracking, the economic and strategic importance of the Middle East is fast diminishing. The CNN chart below shows in striking fashion that, with the exception of 9/11 when nearly 3000 people were killed, domestic gun violence remains a far greater threat than terrorism to American citizens.

Absent the North Korean bone in America’s throat, it is not clear that President Trump would have paid nearly as much attention to Asia, or that U.S. relations with Japan and Korea would not have worsened over trade deficits and a perceived imbalance in military burden-sharing. Trump’s decision to try to get China to solve the North Korean nuclear problem demonstrated a woeful ignorance of intensive U.S. diplomatic efforts extending back to President Clinton. His decision to withdraw from the TPP showed a similar ignorance of the trade advantages of the deal for the United States and the need to embrace more closely Asian countries that both fear and are economically dependent on China.

As of this writing, it is therefore difficult to perceive a coherent Trump policy toward Asia. Aside from slogans like “American First,” we have only his tweeted comments often expressing his displeasure. What is lacking is a positive agenda and clear directions. Nonetheless, I would offer a few thoughts about the future we face in Asia whatever Trump may do.

NORTH KOREAN NUCLEAR PROBLEM WILL PERSIST

The 6th North Korean nuclear test, which occurred on September 3 and was reportedly an even more deadly hydrogen bomb, was another blatant signal that the North Korean proliferation problem will continue to fester. Still, it would serve no one’s interests, including North Korea’s, for a conflict to erupt. Given, however, the unpredictability of Kim Jung-un and also of President Trump’s tweets and rhetorical outbursts, the Korean Peninsula will remain volatile.

As a result, South Korea and Japan will be ever more willing to install and develop more sophisticated weapon systems. For example, in addition to agreeing to install a THAAD missile defense system, South Korean officials announced on July 29 that they would begin talks with the Trump Administration about further strengthening their ballistic missile systems. In 1979 Korea agreed to U.S ballistic missile guidelines, limiting the range of Korean missiles 180 km, but this range was increased in 2001 to 300 km, and in 2012 to 800 km. South Korea now wants another upgrade. In addition, in response to Pyongyang’s September 3 nuclear test, Seoul signaled it was ready to install more THAAD missile defense systems.

Moreover, the South Korean public is far more willing than the Japanese to consider developing their own nuclear weapons. A September 2016 Gallup Korea poll showed that 58 percent of responding South Koreans supported the development of nuclear weapons, and that was well before the latest DPRK tests of long-range and other missiles and nuclear devices. In contrast, a 2016 Genron poll found only 5 percent of Japanese supported their nation possessing nuclear arms. Still, Japan is the only country Washington has allowed to reprocess nuclear fuel from the United States, effectively allowing Japan to acquire the technology it would need to develop nuclear weapons if it decided to do so. Although the short- and medium-term Japanese political environment make this very unlikely, if it were to happen over the longer term, China’s long support for North Korea could wind up leading to its own worst nightmare.

U.S. – CHINA RELATIONS WILL CONTINUE ON A DOWNWARD PATH

It is likely that U.S.-China relationship will continue to fray. The PRC’s continuing reluctance to put sufficient pressure on North Korea to halt its nuclear and missile programs has already prompted calls from many in Washington for even more sanctions against Chinese entities doing business with North Korea. If the August 5 Security Council resolution sanctioning North Korea will cost Pyongyang an estimated one third of its annual export revenue, assuming China fully implements them (something it has not done in the past), it makes sense for the United States to impose even tougher sanctions on other PRC entities doing business with North Korea.

Thus it was no surprise on August 22 that the U.S. Treasury Department imposed further sanctions on 10 Chinese (as well as Russian) firms and 6 individuals who had conducted business with North Korea that advanced Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear weapons programs. As usual, China objected to these “unilateral” sanctions although China has itself never hesitated to economically punish other countries who aroused Beijing’s ire. Beijing blocked trade with some South Korean companies because of the deployment of the U.S. THAAD missile defense system in South Korea. It punished Norway for years after Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo won the Nobel Peace Prize, and China greatly reduced the number of Chinese tourists visiting Taiwan following the election of President Tsai Ing-Wen. Although China has threatened that these U.S. measures will damage bilateral relations, it is something Washington should have done long ago.

Meanwhile, China’s aggressive maritime measures in the South and East China Seas, its huge trade surpluses with the United States, and its IPR violations and unwillingness to trade and invest on an equitable basis, have also reinforced the growing sentiment in the United States that the overall bilateral relationship with China is out of whack and does not serve U.S. interests.

Yet China’s own domestic political and economic concerns will limit PRC flexibility and interest in accommodating those U.S. interests. Although Xi Jinping is very likely to emerge from the 19th Party Congress as China’s paramount leader, we should not forget he faces huge social and political challenges as well as its enormous economic problems, especially if trade disputes with the United States lead to a significant drop in Chinese exports.

Any deterioration in U.S. relations with China, however, does not necessarily bode well for Taiwan. Since the election of President Tsai Ing-Wen, China has already taken numerous diplomatic, military, and other steps to pressure Taiwan. Problems in dealing with the United States could cause China to increase even more its measures against Taiwan. Moreover, U.S. economic sanctions against the PRC could have unintended negative consequences for Taiwan’s economy.

U.S. AND OTHERS MUST SUPPORT TAIWAN

At the same time, therefore, the United States should have no choice but to increase its support for Taiwan, through arms, trade, and diplomacy. The more unstable East Asia is, the more the United States should value Taiwan’s critical geostrategic importance. Moreover, the foundation of U.S ties to Taiwan, unlike our relationship with the China, is that the United States and Taiwan share common values as well as common interests. It is my strongly held view that the United States must help ensure the continuing viability of Taiwan as a democracy if that is the will of the Taiwanese people. Therefore, it was especially good news to hear Washington’s announcement on June 29 of arms sales to Taiwan worth USD1.42 billion, the first such sale to Taiwan under the Trump Administration.

Unfortunately, on the trade front, the late June visit to Washington of an American Chamber of Commerce delegation to Washington was not so encouraging. On the positive side, the delegation found continuing “widespread bipartisan support” for Taiwan among members of Congress, “often marked by recognition of the democratic values and support for human rights” that Taiwan shares with the United States. In contrast, however, Trump Administration officials stressed that Taiwan should expect “little progress… in expanding bilateral economic ties unless Taiwan acts decisively to shave” its trade surplus with the United States “and tackle major outstanding trade issues,” including the import of U.S. beef and pork. The news that Trump was again thinking of withdrawing from the U.S. – Korea free trade agreement, despite the North Korean hydrogen bomb test on September 3, could also be seen as a discouraging signal on trade to Taiwan.

It is increasingly important therefore that other democratic countries like Australia, India, Japan and Korea also find the political will to give greater support to Taiwan, which is increasingly isolated and pressured by China. Now that the Trump Administration, in contrast to the threats of Candidate Trump, has reaffirmed the importance of our alliances with Japan and South Korea, both allies also need to consider further the strategic implications for them of a Taiwan that is no longer sovereign over its own territory. While it appears that Prime Minister Abe’s government has already moved [delete “somewhat”]in this direction, it is less clear that Seoul is giving sufficient attention to Taiwan’s regional Importance.

BUT TAIWAN ALSO NEEDS TO DO MORE TO DEFEND ITSELF

Meanwhile, it is also essential that Taiwan continue its own efforts to strengthen its defense forces, build its economy, diversify its trade, and implement much needed social and educational reforms.

Taiwan certainly needs to do more to improve its bilateral trade with the United States. The American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei, which strongly supports U.S. – Taiwan relations, reported in its 2017 White Paper, that out of 80 bilateral issues it had singled out for resolution in 2016, Taiwan had fully resolved none of them, and significant progress had been made on only 8 issues.

Even more critically important is the need for Taiwan to do much more to strengthen its security. As an authoritative senior U.S. official told a Taipei Forum delegation in Washington in early June, Taiwan’s security in the past “had depended on China’s self-restraint and possible U.S. involvement.” While the official said the United States continued to support Taiwan’s security, it was unclear what the situation might be like in the next four or eight years, especially absent more Taiwan efforts to strengthen its own security.

The senior official also observed that Taiwan’s decision to move to an all-volunteer personnel system for its armed forces was simply wrong. It had reduced Taiwan’s military strength and capacity to mobilize.  It was also worrisome because, unlike Israel or even Switzerland, Taiwan lacks a strong and combat-ready reserve defense force. Moreover, contrary to the repeated claims of former President Ma Ying-Jeou, in the face of repeated U.S. advice to the contrary, an all-volunteer force is more, not less expensive. Finally, Taiwan’s security policy needs to demonstrate to Washington its determination to defend Taiwan if it wants the support of U.S. public opinion in the event of an armed conflict.

It is therefore critical that Taiwan increase its defense budget, review and revise personnel requirements of its defense and reserve forces, and continue to adopt more severe laws, regulations, and measures to counter PRC espionage and cyber-attacks.

Four years ago, in the fall of 2017, only a few months after retiring from the U.S. Foreign Service and stepping down as Director of the American Institute in Taiwan, I addressed this forum, the Taiwan National Security Institute, on the subject of “National Security and Taiwan’s Future.” I spoke then, and again now, as a strong friend of Taiwan who cares deeply about its future. At that time, I said “I also worry a great deal about Taiwan. I worry because I sometimes think the Taiwanese people do not worry enough.” That concern of mine remains to this day.

Then as now, I also firmly believe that sufficient self-defense forms the foundation from which Taiwan can most confidently manage relations with Beijing, and thereby also contribute to both cross-Strait and regional stability. It is also the foundation for the continuing progress and prosperity of Taiwan as a democratic country. As in the past, so too in the future, Taiwan’s fate remains foremost in the hands of the Taiwanese people.

Share.