President Carter believes that his action in switching diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Peking is "recognizing simple reality." But reality is not that simple. The reality is that China is one country,with one part of its territory controled by Taipei and the other part by Peking. If the president is interested in recognizing reality, he should recognize both governments.
Our unimaginative China experts apparently convinced the president that he was faced with an either-./or situation. But the fact is that recognition of both governments would not prejudice the claims each makes to the territory controlled by the other. The United States has never endorsed the claim Taipei makes to the mainland; the Multual Defense Treaty of 1954, for example, specifically limits our obligations to the territory of Taiwan and the Pescadores. The 1972 Shanghai communique clearly contemplated the settlement of the Taiwan question by the Chinese themselves. It did not contemplate that the United States would intervene in the situation by complete capitulation to Peking's view.
It is all the more surprising, therefore, that the president's unilateral statement of Dec. 16 adopts the exact language demanded by the P.R.C. in Shanghai, namely, acknowledgment that Peking is "the sole legal government of China." This is a dangerous fiction, since it presumes the eventual incorporation of Taiwan into the territory controlled by Peking -- by bloody military conquest or by peaceful assimilation through diplomatic and economic pressure after "a decent interval."
The people on Taiwan have no guarantee that the United States will not scuttle their economic interests, just as we have now scuttled their political interests. They have no guarantee that their former ally (that's us) will not withdraw the nuclear-fuel sales needed to keep their electrical generators going, or cease to supply military equipment and spare parts when demanded by Peking.
White House talk about "business as usual" with Taiwan is obscene when the president knows that daily life for a Chinese on the mainland is life stripped of family, religious, property, economic, intellectual, cultural, philosophical and political rights. Even the right to eat on the mainland is on a short leash. The barely sufficient ration for each registered household is valid only in the community where the regime says a person must live.
Nor can it be argued seriously that the people of Taiwan will be protected by our unspoken agreements with Peking (or should they be called unspoken non-agreements?). The fantasy that Peking is moving toward stability, moderation and modernization is dispelled by recent events. Two months after former secretary of state Henry Kissinger held his first secret meeting in Peking with Chou En-lai, Lin Piao died in a plane crash fleeing from his attempt to assassinate Mao Tse-tung. One month after President Ford held discussions with Teng Hsiao-ping, represented then as "the most powerful man in China," the anti-Teng campaign was launched which brought Teng's downfall and eclipse within 90 days. Three years later, Teng is back.
President Carter's crude coup d'etat while the Senate was out of session strikes at the heart of the constitutional role of the Senate in foreign policy. The advise-and-consent power is not limited to treaties and ambassadors. The Senate is unique in that it partakes not only of legislative functions, but of judicial and executive function as well. The Federalist Papers conceived of the Senate as a sort of cabinet of advisers for the president, who would help him reach a national consensus on foreign affairs. When the states gave up their powers to conduct foreign policy, they were to be compensated by the participation of their senators in the formation of a national outlook.
What could the Senate have contributed to the China policy? The president could then have realized that there was virtually no opposition to the recognition of Peking as such. The opposition is to the recognition of Peking as the sole government of China.
The president would also have discovered that there was no anxiety in the Senate to rush to recognition at any cost. He would have found, no doubt, that there is a firm conviction in the Senate that Peking is obsessed with the Soviet threat and would have come to reasonable terms fairly soon in any case. He would also have come upon a great deal of dismay over a policy apparently designed to benefit only two special-interest groups in the United States: The big businessmen whose greed is such that they want to make quick profits out of Chinese slave labor, and administration ideologues anxious to bring prestige and financial support to interantional socialism so as to deter the Soviets from attacking us.
Taiwan has been Shanghaied. The United States should move quickly to repair the damage. We should ignore both Taiwan's self-defeating demand that no nation can have relations with both Chinese governments, and Peking's blood-price that Taiwan be jettisoned. We should move to recognize both governments in the territory eac controls -- not "two Chinas" but "one China with two governments."
The minimum is that there be government-to-government relations with Taiwan, even if Congress has to establish such relations through a special commission. In addition, Taiwan's representatives here must be freely chosen and have a status tantamount to diplomatic immunity. Finally, Taiwan's security must be bolstered by an immediate sale of high-performance aircraft, such as the F16.