‘Dumb’ NY Times op-ed calls for US to sell out Taiwan over China debt


The China Post news staff

The China Post news staff–An op-ed titled “To Save Our Economy, Ditch Taiwan” in the New York Times on Friday has sparked widespread comments from scholars and writers, who criticized the proposal as a dumb idea or a joke. In the article, Paul V. Kane, a former international security fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, said that U.S. President Barrack Obama could take a single bold act “to correct the nation’s course, assure his re-election and preserve children’s future.” Kane, a Marine who served in Iraq, proposed that Obama negotiate privately with Chinese officials to write off the US$1.14 trillion Washington owes Beijing in exchange for an end to American military assistance and arms sales to Taiwan and termination of the current United States-Taiwan defense arrangement by 2015. “This would be a most precious prize to the cautious men in Beijing, one they would give dearly to achieve,” he said, adding that the Washington-Taipei relationship, as revised in 1979, “is a vestige of the cold war.” Kane noted that such a move, if accepted by Beijing, would eliminate almost 10 percent of America’s national debt without raising taxes or cutting spending. He further said that it would redirect U.S. foreign policy “away from dated cold-war-era entanglements and toward our contemporary economic and strategic interests” in addition to eliminating “the risk of involvement in a costly war with China.”

Kane’s article drew a spate of responses including from James Fallows, a nationwide correspondent of The Atlantic magazine, who said his first reaction was that the op-ed was “some kind of put-on.” In his commentary “Is this NYT Op-Ed a joke? Selling Taiwan to the Bankers of Beijing,” Fallows noted that the United States owes China a lot of money and that officials in China are “always mad” at their American counterparts for selling weapons to Taiwan.

Fallows wrote mockingly of Kane’s proposal saying that “Obviously this would be crazy…. But apparently the author, Paul V. Kane, really means it.” Meanwhile, Patrick Chovanec, a professor at Qinghua University’s School of Economics and Management in Beijing said Kane’s idea is not feasible right now or in the future. Chovanec, in a commentary “Let’s Go Over All the Reasons Why Selling Taiwan to China Is a Dumb Idea,” spoke of “the widespread (nearly universal) misconception that China’s US$3.2 trillion in foreign currency reserves are a pile of cash which the Chinese government owns and simply throw at any problem it sees fit (to bail out banks, for example, or provide domestic social benefits).”