Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Taiwan-China DMZ

Taiwan has proposed that the Taiwan Straits should be a demilitarized zone between Taiwan and China. Combine this with next month's referendum and you have a pretty deliberate ploy by Taiwan to bring the US back on side. The revised referendum asks if voters should spend more money on US-made weapons in response to China's missile build-up across the Straits. Now, this proposal to establish a DMZ is clearly intended to prove to the US that Taiwan's more interested in securing what it currently has than in going any further towards independence. As noted earlier Taiwan does have de facto independence already.

I can't see how the Bush Administration can stiff Taiwan after these moves, clearly made to appease the US after the upset over the original proposal to have an independence referendum. However, the split between the moral position - support for Democratic Taiwan - and the pragmatic position - not wanting to anger China - remains.

Last week's Chinese state visit to France has probably convinced Taiwan that the US remains its only real hope. France has condemned the revised Taiwanese referendum, Chirac called the referendum a "grave error", and would like to resume selling arms to China. Germany, too, is in favor of resuming arms sales to China.

Of course, the Taiwanese are not too pleased with this. Vice President Lu said President Chirac had "sold out the national character and spirit of France". I wonder what the rest of the EU will make of this and how this helps forge a common foreign policy.