Tue, Jul 26, 2016 - Page 8 News List

Shift in US’ Taiwan Strait policy

By Parris Chang 張旭成

At the end of last month, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) published a statement on its official Web site, saying that as the leader of Taiwan “does not recognize the 1992 consensus, which embodies the common political foundation of the ‘one China’ principle, official channels of communication between the two sides have been stopped.”

Beijing is continuously trying to intimidate Taiwan. It has not hesitated to sever the mechanisms for official and semi-official cross-strait negotiations between Taiwan and China, or constrict Taiwan internationally, including snatching away Taiwan’s diplomatic allies. These actions are an attempt by Beijing to force President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration into submission over the so-called “1992 consensus.”

American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Chairman Raymond Burghardt caught the attention of many observers in an interview with Voice of America on June 22. In a break with the indirect, cautious language of the past, Burghardt said that the “1992 consensus” does not exist.

Burghardt, who has served as a US consul general in Shanghai and as director of the AIT, had many contacts and discussions with Wang Daohan (汪道涵) and Koo Chen-fu (辜振甫), who directed the talks between Taiwan’s Straits Exchange Foundation and China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits, and he unequivocally said that neither Wang nor Koo ever used the term “1992 consensus,” adding that only Koo occasionally made reference to a “1992 understanding.”

Burghardt’s blunt exposure of the truth has left Beijing with egg on its face, although his words — the result of careful deliberation and thought — are based on important events and considerations.

At the beginning of last month, Burghardt, former AIT director Steve Young, former US ambassador to China Winston Lord and specialists from several US think tanks met with TAO officials and several Chinese diplomats and academics in New York to take part in a “Track 1.5” meeting. The two sides crossed swords repeatedly during the lively discussions on US-China and cross-strait relations.

Saying that Tsai did not acknowledge the “1992 consensus” during her inauguration speech, or propose any concrete suggestions to ensure a stable cross-strait relationship, TAO Vice Director Chen Yuanfeng (陳元豐) accused Tsai of using her policy of “maintaining the ‘status quo’” as a cover to change the “status quo” in the Taiwan Strait.

During the meeting, Chen defined the “1992 consensus” and “one China” principle as “red lines” for Beijing, saying that until Tsai’s administration accepts both these formulas, cross-strait dialogue cannot be resumed.

Many attendees from the Chinese side also said that they do not trust Tsai and accused her of promoting “splittist” policies that damage cross-strait peace by boosting the awareness of Taiwanese identity among the Taiwanese public.

The Chinese side also issued a warning to the US not to be led astray by Taiwan’s government or send wrong signals to the Tsai administration. They also requested that the US assume a “constructive” role in cross-strait relations.

Burghardt and many people from the US side were unanimous in expressing their disagreement with Beijing’s decision to sever communications and dialogue with Taiwan. They raised the important concessions that Tsai has made, which has moved her administration closer to Beijing’s position.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top