Pretending that Taiwan does not exist will not succeed in convincing Hu Jintao that the subject should not be raised during his state visit. In fact, it is a sign of weakness
Briefing the press corps prior to a visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) to Washington this week, US National Security Adviser Tom Donilon made extra efforts to avoid mentioning Taiwan, leading some media to conclude that Taiwan perhaps would not be on the agenda.
At a time when Beijing’s political weight is in the ascendancy and that of the US is increasingly in question, the last thing Washington should do is send signals of weakness — and avoiding a topic, in the hope that somehow Beijing would forget, is just that.
If Donilon’s press conference is any indication of US President Barack Obama’s strategy for dealing with Hu, it shows us that rather than seek to set the agenda on a problem that continues to haunt Northeast Asia, Washington will allow the Chinese leader to do so, at which point US officials will have little choice but to backtrack or use soothing language that can then be exploited by Beijing.
My editorial, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.