Monday, June 18, 2007

Does the so-called "status quo" really exist?

On June 15, in a roundtable meeting with Taiwan media, American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Chairman Raymond Burghardt said, “Taiwan’s being excluded from organizations that require the status of a sovereign state has been, from the beginning, the U.S. policy.” He emphasized, “The U.S. view on Taiwan’s membership in the U.N. organizations has been consistent in 1979, 1982 and now.” However, he also added “there are ways in which Taiwan can participate, in even the U.N. organization, in terms of expert participation and observership.” "We are strongly in favor of that. And we strongly oppose games that are played with a nomenclature in order to exclude Taiwan from participating is these organizations," he said.

To me, it’s not surprised that a U.S. official would make this kind of statement. The U.S. policy toward Taiwan has long been kept under the principle of strategic ambiguity. For its national interests, the U.S. government prefers the so-called “status quo” and keeps reiterating it during the decade.

However, it’s hard to define what the “status quo” is. When Taiwan lost its formal relations with the Republic of Costa Rica, was the “status quo” broken? When China continues deploying more missiles aiming at Taiwan year by year, can I say the “status quo” is already damaged? Ultimately, we still have to acknowledge that the statement of “maintaining the status quo” is so unrealistic and impracticable.

One thing should be noticed here. Burghardt’s talk indicated the possible attitude of the U.S. government toward Taiwan’s U.N. bid this September as well as the bid for WHO next May. Taiwan government should be more aware of this and do some preparation in response from now on.

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