Thu, Jan 27, 2011 - Page 1 News List

US diplomat slams China for opposing visit to Taiwan

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter, with AP

American Institute in Taiwan Chairman Raymond Burghardt on Tuesday said Chinese pressure on Missouri Governor Jay Nixon to cancel a visit to Taiwan was “unacceptable” and inconsistent with Beijing’s claims it sought to improve ties with Taipei.

Nixon last month scrapped plans to visit Taiwan after a Chicago-based Chinese diplomat warned the trip could imperil a project by China to turn St Louis airport into a hub for Chinese cargo in the US.

Over the previous two years, eight US governors have visited Taiwan.

Speaking to reporters in Taipei, Burghardt called China’s actions “absolutely unacceptable.”

“My impression is that most American politicians, American governors, they don’t like to be pushed around that way,” he said.

Burghardt said China’s actions were at odds with the improvements in relations across the Taiwan Strait that have taken place since President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英) came into office in May 2008.

“It’s ... inconsistent with all their professions of desire to improve cross-strait relations to treat Taiwan that way,” Burghardt said. “I think it’s a serious matter.”

Turning to Taiwan’s international space, Burghardt said the US “takes seriously” Taipei’s participation in international organizations and “will continue to work for ways to help Taiwan improve its international representation.”

“I think whatever we do, it probably never looks like enough. But as I said, there is a lot [that] goes on, and we do a lot,” he said

Emphasizing his point, Burghardt pointed to an instance in which Washington helped Taiwan participate in an international event — a case he said had not been made public up until now.

Working behind the scenes, the US succeeded in having the online registration system for the UN Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico, last month changed so that a Taiwanese NGO delegation could register and participate without having to do so under “one China,” he said.

Prior to the change, Burghardt said, the online registration system only had one option — one that linked Taiwan to China.

“You can rest assured that we are the best friend Taiwan has,” he said.

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