US policy toward Taiwan has been irrevocably changed by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s comment on Thursday that “Taiwan has not been a part of China,” a National Taiwan University academic said on Saturday.
The comments that Pompeo made during a telephone interview with the Hugh Hewitt Show radio program aired on Thursday has drawn attention from all sides of the issue, as it has been US practice since the signing of the Shanghai Communique in 1972 to simply “acknowledge” rather than “recognize” that people on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain there is “one China.”
Pompeo’s comment was made in relation to the forced expulsion of four pro-democracy lawmakers in Hong Kong the day before, as he said that the move exposes Beijing’s “blatant disregard for its international commitments” and shows it cannot be trusted, associate professor of political science Chen Shih-min (陳世民) said.
US policy toward Taiwan has been founded on Beijing’s promises, including its promise to resolve the Taiwan question peacefully, he said.
However, now that Washington has realized that Beijing cannot be trusted when it comes to Taiwan and Hong Kong, it also believes there is no reason to comply with past agreements, he added.
With a single comment, Pompeo has set a new framework for US-Taiwan relations that is closer to the “status quo” desired by pro-Taiwan factions of the Republican Party, Chen said, adding that even after US president-elect Joe Biden takes office, it would be difficult to return to the former “status quo.”
Cross-Strait Policy Association researcher Wu Se-chih (吳瑟致) said that Pompeo’s remark would limit cross-strait policy options for the Biden administration, as rejecting the statement would conversely affirm Beijing’s stance, revealing the US’ bottom line in negotiations.
Although the US might not be stable during the transition of power, Pompeo’s comment shows that Washington’s approach has “somewhat changed,” former minister of foreign affairs Chen Chien-jen (程建人) said.
The remark is bound to affect bilateral and trilateral relations, although the breadth of the change is yet to be determined, he added.
There is no way that Biden would follow Trump’s policies to the letter, but it is too early for Taiwan to draw any conclusions yet, Chen Chien-jen said, adding that it is more important to first observe China’s reaction.
Former deputy minister of foreign affairs Michael Kau (高英茂) said he does not believe the Biden administration would reiterate Pompeo’s position.
However, the remark would serve to ensure that the US’ “one China” policy is decided by Washington, not Beijing, he added.
Additional reporting by Peng Wan-hsin
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