The US and China are discussing ways for Taiwan to increase its exposure and influence in the world by joining more international institutions and organizations, Washington sources said.
Among the groups being considered are the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), sources said.
The issue is expected to be raised in talks between US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) when they meet in Washington next month.
US Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg confirmed the development on Tuesday when he addressed the Center for American Progress on “The Future of the US-China Relationship.”
“We are encouraged by the positive steps that have been taken by Taipei and Beijing and urge them to continue to take steps that will build trust and contribute to stability,” he said.
“There has been important progress on the economic front and we want to see further progress in the future,” Steinberg said.
Asked to elaborate, he said: “We were very encouraged by China’s decision to support Taiwan’s participation as an observer at the World Health Assembly [the WHO’s decision-making body] and there are other opportunities for the two to work together in places where the membership is not based on being a sovereign state.”
“We have discussed with China some of the particular institutions and organizations,” he said.
“For example, on climate change, there is an opportunity for Taiwan to play a constructive role. It would be in the interests of all of us to have Taiwan engaged in some particular format. There are a broad range of areas in which there is opportunity for dialogue and progress in the relationship,” Steinberg said.
China generally blocks Taiwan’s attempts to gain international space, but the Washington sources said that in private discussions Beijing has recently shown some flexibility.
Earlier, Steinberg emphasized the importance of maintaining “transparency” in US-China military relations and avoiding the danger “that our militaries will become rivals.”
He said it was imperative to ensure that the military-to-military dialogue was sustainable and that it was not threatened by periods of disagreement, when the need for dialogue was all the more important.
“The ‘one China’ policy remains an important part of our overall approach to our engagement with China, based on the three joint communiques and the Taiwan Relations Act,” Steinberg said. “Our policy is aimed at promoting stability and dialogue across the Straits [sic]. We continue to believe that appropriate defensive arms sales to Taiwan give Taiwan the confidence to engage the mainland and we are encouraged by the positive steps that have been taken by Taipei and Beijing and urge them to continue to take steps that will build trust and contribute to stability.”
He said the US was working hard to strengthen other aspects of security cooperation with China, particularly in some of the non-traditional areas, such as counterterrorism, tackling piracy and law enforcement.
In related news, the Bureau of Public Affairs at the US State Department said in a statement on Tuesday that Steinberg would lead a delegation to Asia from next Tuesday through Friday.
The delegation, consisting of US National Security Council Senior Director for Asian Affairs Jeffrey Bader, US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell and US Special Envoy Sung Kim, will leave Washington for Beijing next Tuesday, where they are scheduled to meet senior officials to continue consultations with the Chinese on regional security issues.