The respective governments in China and Taiwan are rivals, their enmity dating back to the civil war in China which erupted when Imperial Japan surrendered and so ended the Asia-Pacific sphere of the Second World War. To this day, the Communist Party regime in Beijing claims sovereignty over Taiwan and continues to threaten to use force “if necessary” to “reunite Taiwan with the motherland.”
The United States and Taiwan used to be treaty allies, with America pledging itself to defend Taiwan. All that ended in 1979 when Jimmy Carter established diplomatic relations with China and, concomitantly, abrogated the Mutual Defense Treaty with Taiwan as well as de-recognized the government on Taiwan. Today, the United States does not recognize the fully democratic government on Taiwan and only has relations with “the people” on Taiwan. Such is the Bizarro world of international politics.
As of 2005, according to a Pentagon report to Congress, China had 730 short-range ballistic missiles arrayed on its coast facing Taiwan. Furthermore, on December 22, 2005, a Chinese general said publicly that China would fire nuclear missiles at the west coast of the U.S. if America intervened during a Chinese invasion of Taiwan.
Given all this, it is most curious that on October 2, 2009, Obama delegated the functions of the President to Commerce Secretary Gary Locke — an American of Chinese descent and a two-term governor of Washington state, who is visiting China right now.
Specifically, the delegation of powers reads:
Presidential Determination No. 2009–31 of September 29, 2009
Presidential Determination on the Delegation of Certifications Under Section 1512 of Public Law 105-261
Memorandum for the Secretary of Commerce
By virtue of the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including section 301 of Title 3, United States Code, I hereby delegate to you the functions of the President under section 1512 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1999 (NDAA). In the performance of your responsibility under this memorandum, you shall consult, as appropriate, the heads of other executive departments and agencies. You are authorized and directed to publish this determination in the Federal Register.
So what does Section 1512 authorize?
CERTIFICATION OF EXPORTS OF MISSILE EQUIPMENT OR TECHNOLOGY TO CHINA
The President shall certify to the Congress at least 15 days in advance of any export to the People’s Republic of China of missile equipment or technology (as defined in section 74 of the Arms Export Control Act (22 U.S.C. 2797c) that — (1) such export is not detrimental to the United States space launch industry; and (2) the missile equipment or technology, will not measurably improve the missile or space launch capabilities of the People’s Republic of China.
Hmmm…. Do you think this has anything to do with the fact that China is the largest foreign holder of US treasury securities — at $797.1billion (August 2009)? Or that, of late, China has been making noises about replacing the dollar with a pan-Asia currency?