Sat, Jan 31, 2009 - Page 1 News List

US urged to review Taipei policy

BLUNTLY SPEAKING Robert Sutter said that if Taiwan decided to align with China, then Washington could turn to Japan, or even Beijing, to talk about Taiwan issues

By Nadia Tsao  /  STAFF REPORTER IN WASHINGTON

In addition to assisting the government of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) in strengthening its bargaining chips in negotiations with Beijing, the new administration of US President Barack Obama should also reassess its Taiwan policy and map out how it would deal with Taiwan if the latter chose to align itself with China, a US academic said yesterday.

Robert Sutter, a professor with Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, made the remark at a seminar on cross-strait relations hosted by George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. Sutter bluntly said that the US could give up on Taiwan if it chose to align itself with China.

It remains to be seen whether other voices will echo the remarks made by Sutter, who once worked for the CIA and the US Department of State.

Formerly known for criticizing Taiwan for showing a lack of willingness to invest in self-defense, Sutter said that Ma’s policies had been well received in the US and that he sincerely wished Ma success.

But, he added, both the US and Taiwan should think about what would happen if the government’s policies failed.

Cross-strait relations are highly disproportional, Sutter said, adding that while some progress has been made in cross-strait economic and trade development, there have been no concessions on China’s part in the principles guiding its military, diplomatic and economic policies. While Taiwan has made a lot of concessions, it has not received a proportional response from China, Sutter said. The Ma government needs to let China see that it has backup plans in the event Beijing does not make any concessions, he said.

The new US government needs to reassess the country’s relations with Taiwan, Sutter said. He asked what the US would do if Taiwan leans toward China and discrepancies occur between the strategic goals of the US and Taiwan.

Saying that, as a superpower, the US does not need Taiwan, Sutter told the seminar that if Taiwan thought it did not need help from the US, the US could take up Taiwan issues with Japan, or even China.

Also at the seminar, Shelley Rigger, a professor at Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina, said that large-scale protests held by demonstrators in November during Chinese envoy Chen Yun-lin’s (陳雲林) visit to Taipei were not a bad thing for Taiwan because it debunked Beijing and the international community’s illusion that Ma alone could decide on behalf of all Taiwanese.

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