Monday, October 7, 2019

How Washington is Meddling in the Affairs of Taiwan

In a recent posting, I provided my readers with background information on the links between Washington's National Endowment for Democracy, a Congressionally-funded "non-profit" organization and Hong Kong and the connection to the recent protests against China.  In this posting, I would like to look at how Washington is further meddling in China's realm through its funding of the pro-democracy movement in Taiwan, a nation that China and the United States have been scrapping over for decades.  I apologize in advance for the length of this posting but I feel that it is important to understand Taiwan based on its history with mainland China and its post-Communist China relationship with the United States.

To put the Taiwan/China (aka Republic of China/People's Republic of China respectively) situation into context, it is important to understand the history between the two nations.  Taiwan was annexed by China's Qing dynasty in the late 1600s and was ceded to Japan as part of the post-Sino-Japanese War treaty in 1895.  Japan governed the island as colony until the end of the Second World War in 1945 when Japan surrendered to the Republic of China's (ROC) military forces led by Chiang Kai-shek.  The Republic of China came into existence in 1912 after the Qing dynasty was overthrown during the Xinhai Revolution and included the current territories of China, Taiwan and Mongolia and its government was headed by its president, Sun Yat-sen who handed over the presidency to Yuan Shikai who forced the last emperor to abdicate.  After short period of control after declaring himself the Emperor of China, he lost control of the territory and China returned to its warlord past.  Sun Yat-sen who had been in exile, returned to China and, along with the Communist Party of China and the rejuvenated Koumintang (KMT)and establ8isehd a rival government in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou.  After his death in March 1925, the KMT was headed by his protege, Chiang Kai-Shek. By 1927, the KMT and Communists split, marking the beginning of the Chinese Civil War with each group claiming that they were the true heirs to Sun Yat-sen.  Prior to the Second World War, Japan's desire to control China's ample natural resrouces resulted in the seizure of Manchuria in 1931, culminating in the fall of Nanking, China's capital city, in 1937.  Despite the loss of territory to Japan, the KMT and communists continued to battle in an attempt to control larger geographic regions of the nation.  After the end of World War II, despite American interventions and attempts to arrange truces between the two parties, the battle between the KMT and Communist People's Liberation Army continued during the Chinese Civil War , with Beijing being capture by the PLA in January 1949 and Nanking being captured in April 1949. On October 1, 1949, the Communists, headed by Mao Zedong, founded the People's Republic of China.  Chiang Kai-Shek and his followers which included hundreds of thousands of troops loyal to him and two million refugees fled to Taiwan, declaring Taipei as its capital.  Chiang ruled Taiwan under martial law, banning opposition parties until 1989, and not holding its first free legislative elections until 1992 and its first presidential election in 1996.  Apparently, Washington preferred a non-Communist dictatorship over one that was part of the growing Red menace.   Backed by significant financial  aid from the United States who recognized Taiwan as the legitimate Chinese government, Chiang launched Taiwan on a path to economic growth.  In addition, in 1954, the United States and Taiwan signed the Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty as part of America's move to stiffle the growth of global communism and prevent China from taking over Taiwan. This treaty was terminated in 1979 after the United States established official diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China and replaced with the Taiwan Relations Act which pledged to continue commercial, cultural and other relations between Taiwan and the United States.

The United States has had a very long and close military relationship with Taiwan which was governed under the Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty aka the Mutual Defense Treaty Between the United States and the Republic of China which was signed on December 2, 1954 as shown here:

The key phrase in this treaty reads like this:

"In order more effectively to achieve the objective of this Treaty, the Parties separately and jointly by self-help and mutual aid will maintain and develop their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack and communist subversive activities directed from without against their territorial integrity and political stability." (my bold)

Obviously, the treaty is referring to the People's Republic of China which was formed under the leadership of Mao Tse-tung and his communist cohort in 1949.  This treaty has led to the selling of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of American military equipment to Taiwan over the past six decades. 

Now, let's look at the democracy movement in Taiwan and how Washington is involving itself in Taiwan's internal affairs.  In Juny 2003, the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy or TFD formally came into being after being initiated by Taiwan's former president Chen Shui-Bian and proactively promoted by Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  Here is what TFD says about itself:

"Taiwan's peaceful transition to democracy is not only a historical accomplishment for its twenty-three million people, but a landmark in the worldwide spread of democracy. Only after years of struggle and effort could this transformation take place. We must never forget this history, for it shapes the cornerstone of our continued commitment to the principles of democracy and human rights.

The Foundation was established with an inter-related, two-tracked mission in mind. Domestically, the TFD strives to play a positive role in consolidating Taiwan's democracy and fortifying its commitment to human rights; internationally, the Foundation hopes to become a strong link in the world democratic network, joining forces with related organizations around the world. Through the years, Taiwan has received valuable long-term assistance and stalwart support from the international community, and it is now time to repay that community for all of its efforts."

TFD is governed by fifteen trustees and five supervisors and represents Taiwan's political parties, its government, academia, non-governmental organizations and business sector.   It is primarily funded by the Taiwanese government but is independently incorporated as a non-profit organization.  One-fifth of its budget comes from Taiwan's political parties.  Its aims are as follows:

"1.) Building relationships with related institutions around the world.

2.) Participating actively in the global promotion of democracy and supporting the improvement of human rights conditions.

3.) Supporting democracy promotion activities of NGOs and academic institutions.

4.) Promoting research and publications on democratic developments at home and abroad.

5.) Organizing and sponsoring seminars, workshops, conferences, and other educational activities in the field of democracy and human rights."

In many ways, it very closely resembles Washington's National Endowment for Democracy.  In fact, as you will see, the two organizations are closely connected.  According to NFD's 2018 Annual Report, NED's President Carl Gershman gave a speech at NFD's 15th anniversary event:

Here is a quote about Gershman's address from the annual report:

"National Endowment for Democracy President Carl Gershman stated that Taiwan was not merely a “model country,” but “an inspiration for those who aspire to democracy, a partner for democracy advocates and practitioners around the world, and an agent for democratic change at a time when democracy is under assault and even its traditional leaders are beset by doubt.” As the rise of authoritarian China has become the biggest challenge to democratic values, Taiwan has been able to provide a unique voice and perspective. “That such a small and diplomatically beleaguered country is capable of playing such an important role...this enables all of us to take hope in democracy. Despite all the obstacles and adversaries, Taiwan makes us believe that democracy will in the end prevail,” he added." (my bold)

That message is pretty clear, isn't it?

Further along in the report we find this:

Notice that significant international funding for NFD was sourced from the United States.   Looking further through the annual report international funding section, we see that the United States plays a major role in NFD, particularly regarding "Human Rights in China" as shown on these pages:

In the 2017 NFD Annual Report we find that NED Vice President Louisa Greve had a talk expressing concerns about the contemporary trend in "...democratic recession, abuses in democratic systems, the suppression of civil society and the problem of corruption..." singling out Russia and China for attention.  NED President Carl Gershman was also in attendance at the Asia Young Leaders for Democracy program, also speaking about the global democratic recession as shown on this photo:

It is quite clear that, in the case of both Taiwan and Hong Kong, Washington is involving itself by foisting its pro-democracy agenda at mainland China through the "muscle" of the National Endowment for Democracy, the United States taxpayer-funded, non-profit, non-partisan arm of Congress.  Apparently, there's nothing like "democracy, American-style" and international meddling "Congressional-style".

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