Update: McCain injects Presidential Politics into U.S. – China row over Taiwan Weapons Sale
According to a piece in the Washington Post today, McCain has upped the ante in the Taiwan Weapon Sales by “urging the administration to add submarines and F-16s aircraft to a $6 billion package of military equipment for Taiwan that the White House unveiled last week.”
According to McCain,
We should understand that the possibility of productive ties between Taiwan and China are enhanced, not diminished, when Taipei speaks from a position of strength. … [The United States must] stand by this remarkable free and democratic people.
According to the Washington post, the “McCain campaign did not respond to a request for comment on whether Randy Scheunemann, his foreign policy coordinator, had a role in drafting the statement or if he had recused himself.”
This is interesting because:
As it happens, the lobbying firm helmed as recently as May by McCain’s chief foreign policy coordinator had a $200,000 contract with Taiwan to provide “advocacy … with the U.S. Congress and executive branch,” which it renewed in June, according to documents filed with the Justice Department.
In 2005, Scheunemann signed the contract between his firm, Orion Strategies LLC, and Taiwan’s Washington office. On June 4 of this year, his partner, Mike Mitchell, signed a renewal of the contract, which calls for quarterly payments of $50,000.
Scheunemann’s lobbying has attracted attention in the past. For months while McCain’s presidential campaign was gearing up, Scheunemann held dual roles, advising the candidate on foreign policy while working as Georgia’s lobbyist. Between Jan. 1, 2007, and May 15, 2008, the campaign paid Scheunemann nearly $70,000 to provide foreign policy advice. During the same period, the government of Georgia paid his firm $290,000 in lobbying fees.
Scheunemann, who was president of Orion, remained with the firm until May 15, when the McCain campaign imposed a tough new anti-lobbyist policy and he was required to separate himself from the company. A McCain campaign official said Scheunemann took a formal leave from Orion and receives no compensation for any Orion activities from that date for the duration of the campaign.
It isn’t clear if Scheunemann retains an equity stake in the firm. Mitchell did not return a call for comment.
The Post contacted the Obama campaign on whether Obama would agree with McCain in calling for increasing weapon’s sale to Taiwan. “The Obama campaign said it welcomed Bush’s decision to notify Congress of the arms package for Taiwan, but did not call for adding military equipment to it,” according to the report.
According to a recent poll in Taiwan, Obama is favored by Taiwanese by as high as 81%.
What do people think about this latest injection of Presidential Politics into the row between U.S. and China over Taiwan’s weapons sale?
Is this call for increased sales just a desperate move by McCain for domestic consumption – or does it signal something more substantive in U.S. foreign policy?
A notable point is that both the Clinton and Bush administrations once mentioned respecting the wishes of “people from both sides of the Taiwan Strait.” However, both Obama and McCain emphasized only the wishes of “Taiwan people.”
[N]either platform has mentioned “the three U.S.-China Joint Communiques”; instead both emphasized the adherence to “the Taiwan Relation Act”. This shows the United States has some concerns on the warming relationship cross the Taiwan Strait after Ma Ying-jeou took office.
“This actually reflects the United States’ conflicts of interest. Facing a rising mainland China, the U.S. on the one hand stands alert, and tries to gain mutual benefits by developing friendship. However, Taiwan has always been an important chip in Sina-U.S. relationship and in order to restrict mainland China, it must help and even control Taiwan. This will not change,” said Wang Jiaying.
Of course, this could all be political posturing also. According to the same article,
America has thought highly about the prosperity of China. The Taiwan issue is one of China’s core interests. Sino-U.S. relations will not develop without appropriate solutions. And there will not be conflict between China and the U.S., as long as Taiwan’s problems receive appropriate treatment. … By now, China and the United States have reached clear agreement on the Taiwan issue….
Any thoughts about McCain’s injection of presidential politics into U.S.-China relationships over Taiwan?
Any insights into the next U.S. President’s policy regarding Taiwan in light of a rising China?
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