By Yang Kunfu
When Donald Trump ran for the US presidency for the first time in 2016, he borrowed Reagan's slogan in 1980, "Make America Great Again". Now, Trump has wielded the slogan "Keep America Great" in the campaign. Trump declared that "we can't say 'Make America Great Again,' because I already did that." Such shameless brag meets nothing but head shakes.
Ironically, the Trump administration has suddenly declassified the "Six Assurances" telegrams to Taiwan at a sensitive moment and accelerated its involvement in the Taiwan question. This once again sent the wrong signal to the "Taiwan independence" secessionist forces. The DPP authorities were overjoyed. Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen trumpeted the significance of this move by the US on August 31 and declared that this means the US has made its security commitment to Taiwan clearer. However, in my opinion, this behavior of the Trump administration will only make the US less credible. It will undoubtedly seriously impact the international prestige of the US, thus making it difficult to "keep America great".
It should be understood that the three joint communiqués signed by China and the US all emphasize the adherence to the one-China principle, which has become the political basis and fundamental prerequisite for the establishment and development of diplomatic relations between China and the US. It is also a norm that the Chinese and American governments must abide by. Even though the US government introduced the so-called "Taiwan Relations Act" in the form of domestic law and made the so-called "Six Assurances" in the form of telegrams to appease the Taiwan authorities, these are all unilateral acts by the US, cannot challenge the documents officially signed by China and the US and mean nothing at all in terms of justification and legitimacy.
As the US election is approaching, President Trump is constantly playing the so-called "Taiwan card". However, under the circumstances that the hype measures, such as sending health officials to Taiwan, close-in reconnaissance by military aircraft and warships crossing the Taiwan Strait, have gained little effect, the Trump administration, irritated and embarrassed, had to increase the “doses of gunpowder” again to constantly challenge the bottom line of the Chinese mainland.
In addition to the intention to stimulate the Chinese mainland, the Trump administration's hype about the "Six Assurances" for Taiwan is also seeking "legitimacy" and "reasonability" for intervening in the Taiwan question, and for further "arms sales to Taiwan". Moreover, in the process of this hype, the outside world can see that the Trump administration and the DPP authorities are constantly talking about the "threat to peace" and shifting the responsibility for the increasingly tense situation in the Taiwan Strait to the Chinese mainland. Such behavior is like a thief yelling: "Catch the thief," which highlights the narrow mindset of the Trump administration. Violation of the three China-US joint communiqués and the one-China principle will also hollow out the international credibility of the US government.
Under such circumstances, the DPP authorities, who take the initiative to cooperate with the Trump administration, have become an American puppet. According to Douglas H. Paal, former director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), the Trump administration’s move to announce the declassification of the so-called "Six Assurances" to Taiwan means more in publicity. Paal believes that the Trump administration is just bluffing to look tough, although it is close to the red line of the Chinese mainland, the US will not cross the line. Judging from the logic of Paal's research and judgment, the US is only using the Taiwan region to challenge the Chinese mainland, and the DPP authorities have obviously overestimated its role.
(The author is a research fellow with the DPP Research Center of the Graduate Institute for Taiwan Studies of Xiamen University)
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