On Paul V. Kane and His Stupid Op-Ed

I’ve occasionally featured bad journalism on here, articles which serve as examples of what happens when dumb people write about China. Today I have the dumbest yet, an op-ed from the NYT by a Paul V. Kane, apparently “a former international security fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School.” One wonders if the ‘former’ bit comes from him being expelled from the school?

He writes about how America should ‘dump’ Taiwan. Take a look:

WITH a single bold act, President Obama could correct the country’s course, help assure his re-election, and preserve our children’s future.

He should enter into closed-door negotiations with Chinese leaders to write off the $1.14 trillion of American debt currently held by China in exchange for a deal to end American military assistance and arms sales to Taiwan and terminate 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. After all, our relationship with Taiwan, as revised in 1979, is a vestige of the cold war.

Today, America has little strategic interest in Taiwan, which is gradually integrating with China economically by investing in and forming joint ventures with mainland Chinese firms. The island’s absorption into mainland China is inevitable.

China would want a deal on Taiwan for several reasons. First, Taiwan is Beijing’s unspoken but hard-to-hide top priority for symbolic and strategic reasons; only access to water and energy mean more to Chinese leaders.

Second, a deal would open a clearer path for the gradual, orderly integration of Taiwan into China.

Third, it would undermine hard-line militarists who use the Taiwan issue to stoke nationalist flames, sideline pro-Western technocrats and extract larger military budgets. And finally, it would save China the considerable sums it has been spending on a vast military buildup.

Where to begin?! It’s always a little painful to read something written by someone who clearly has no idea what he’s talking about, but this article just throws nonsense at you from every angle. Giving up Taiwan would correct the country’s course? Really? An issue most Americans know little/nothing about would ensure his re-election? Really?!?! It would preserve our children’s future?!?!?!? Really?!??!?!?!

Then there’s the ‘absorption into mainland China is inevitable’ bit. I take it Kane has only learned about Taiwan from Beijing propaganda releases or something? This is a country which has been de-facto independent for decades, where the people have grown more and more invested in a Taiwanese identity defines them as not-PRC, where the realistic chances of integration grow smaller every year. As Peking Duck said in response to the article:

The only thing missing from this op-ed: the Taiwanese. I lived there for nearly two years. This “solution” would be met by abject horror, and not just by the Green fanatics. (And not all Greens are fanatics; I know some splendid ones. But I also know a few fanatics. And when I say fanatics….) I know plenty of politically apathetic Chinese who emphatically say Taiwan will never accept being ruled by the CCP. And they really mean it.

Has Kane ever… oh, I don’t know, spoken to a Taiwanese person? Glanced at an opinion poll? The Taiwanese can see what happens to people on the other side of the Taiwan Straight, they know what being ruled by Beijing means. Kane also seems to have no idea that Beijing actually frequently and loudly talks about how reintegrating Taiwan is one of their top priorities- indeed, it’s frequently called a ‘core interest’ by Chinese leaders, which makes it odd for Kane to describe it as ‘unspoken.’ Joe Weisenthal at Business Insider points out another huge flaw:

Two, and this is more important, China doesn’t hold a sword over our heads. There are all kinds of reasons why we have to take China seriously, but their debt holdings aren’t one of them. They can’t dump our debt even if they wanted to, and as long as they wanted to trade with us (which will be forever) they won’t be dumping our debt. People think the Chinese own our debt because they’re our lenders. This isn’t the case. The Chinese own our debt because they run a trade surplus with the U.S., and that surplus cash gets recycled into Treasuries. That’s it.

People more interested in the economic flaws of Kane’s argument should read this post by Chovanec, who explains in great detail exactly why the plan makes no sense.

It’s rare to see the entire Chinese blogosphere united in derision like this. Here’s to hoping no one important ever reads his op-ed.


Filed under Taiwan

10 responses to “On Paul V. Kane and His Stupid Op-Ed

  1. Great feedback on this aweful article, man! I cannot believe though, that the NYT is posting such a short sighted article! Say No to China! Say Yes to Taiwan! In other words, yes to Democracy and Freedom od Speech and Thought!

  2. R

    Is he trying to imply United States today is no more than a debt slave?

  3. Oh… LOL.. Since when Taiwan needs to be blamed for US rising debt? For years, Taiwan has paid big money to buy US arms and still holds lots of US Treasury. Not every Taiwanese like to live in China, with over-70% of Taiwan people opposing that disturbing, ridiculous reunity issue. We get Presidential election next January. It looks very likely the pro-China, ruling KMT party will lose to DPP. Gritty Taiwan has been ditched by so many countries in int’l political arena, but never buckled. It just earned huge Forex reserves due to people hard works. Kane is at least right in one point that China spends much in military weapon aiming to attack the island, Formosa (beautiful island named by Portuguese centuries ago). He may further suggest US dumps all of its East Asian allies to please China in return for economic revival. His op-ed, anyway, is very funny, making me laugh at this boring night. But sadly to say, we live near by Goliath, a reality we can’t ditch for good. Maybe, we need more good pitchers in US to showcase our baseball strength, not military ability, as Chien-Ming Wang has done in Nats. All stars MLB players visited Formosa early this month. We love nice games highlighted by powerful pitching…. Good Luck and welcome back next year … “Taiwan Next” – election slogan by DPP …

  4. Harry T.

    As an American who had lived in Taiwan for two years, I have no idea what Kane is BSing about. It’s true that we [officially] do not recognize Taiwan as a sovereign state and it’s definitely not one of our most important allies, but perhaps unbeknownst to many Americans, Taiwan is NOT part of our territory (yup, it requires a visa for US citizens to enter Taiwan, the application fee is about $140 something if I remember correctly), so legally we cannot put that island up for sale on ebay or government surplus websites.
    Nevertheless, selling Taiwan to underwrite our debts and ensure our children’s future is a well-taken policy suggestion, perhaps this is something Rick Perry forgot to mention after his “oops” gaffe.

  5. Pat Woodruff

    I am astounded the NYTimes would print such… gosh, words fail me.

    Since when is “Sell Thy Neighbor” a viable, respected international strategy? Who trusts a traitor, really? Absolutely no one. Would Chinese leaders feel more respectful? Would our friends in other places suddenly feel just oodles safer because the US had handled its debt problem?

    Kane: “The battle today is between competing balance sheets, and it is fought in board rooms; it is not a geopolitical struggle to militarily or ideologically “dominate” the Pacific.”

    Not how the Chinese see it. They are busily building their navy into something formidable, with long-range capability, that the US must treat with caution.

    Kane: “And finally, it would save China the considerable sums it has been spending on a vast military buildup.” (Not sure if I can stop laughing over this one. )
    The Red Army has a very strong role in the CCP. They churn out militarist policies to keep demonstrators in Tibet, or Tienamin sq., or the Islamists in Central Asia China, submissive. They got clout with capital C and guess what? Their understanding is that human nature demands military power. No peaceniks there.

    The buildup for handling Taiwan is a stepping stone. Next stop, dominate the seas around Malasia, Indonesia, and the Philippine Islands in order to extract trade concessions. If Taiwan issue disappeared they would create another.

    Kane: “The Chinese leadership would be startled — for a change — if the United States were to adopt such a savvy negotiating posture. ”

    They would be startled, but not by our savvy negotiating posture. They would be startled at the utter capitulation of political dominance by the US.

  6. sahid machen

    Six years ago, I ditched NYT for WSJ. This article by this Kane has once again convinced I have done the right thing. Keep up with publishing articles like that, you will soon find yourself no more respectable than National Enquirer.

  7. Ho-Pan O-Ren

    Seems to me that Kane would sell his own mother as a prostitute if it helped his personal “balance sheet” look better. The former “whatever” is a current hypocrite. – from an American, in Taiwan 6 years, married to a Taiwanese, and with child.

  8. Bill Ganapathy

    Judging from the above comments, it is shocking that a paper like the N.Y. Times deemed fit to publish it. The world looks to America for everything, even though it has been roundly criticized for a host of ailments like the financial contagion etc. yet there is no denying the fact that with all its missteps, it is the last bastion on earth and here is this gentleman with his treacherous views. God help not just Taiwan and the other countries under China’s sights but even this very country itself.

  9. Hank L Chang

    It has been 2 years after NYT published this article from Mr. Kane. Apparently, the situation in the US is not getting better, but worse. Maybe it is the time to reconsider Mr. Kane’s proposal.
    However, the US will have to move faster, because, we’d also been waiting to be sold for 2 years. If the US still can not make the decision, we, the Taiwan people, will sell ourselves to the Great China for the same price minus one to be more competitive. That means, every Taiwanese will get US$49,565 at once, plus we can save tens of millions annually to buy the unnecessary weapons from you.

  10. Catherine Yen

    This Paul Kane, he comes from Harvard… the same as Ma Ying Jiou. If we mentioned Kane and Ma, Harvard is unfortunately to become the cradle of evil —- Shame on these guys, Harvard’s education needs a deep reflection.

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