Fri, Feb 03, 2012 - Page 1 News List

President can be ‘tough’ with China: Chiang

By William Lowther  /  Staff Reporter in Washington

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Vice Chairman John Chiang (蔣孝嚴) promised a Washington audience on Wednesday that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) would be “necessarily tough” with China to protect Taiwan’s sovereignty.

He said that Ma was in “no rush, no hurry” to enter political negotiations with Beijing.

Chiang, a former minister of foreign affairs and the grandson of Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石), is on a short visit to reassure the US that cross-strait relations will remain stable during Ma’s next four years in office.

He has talked with major figures on Capitol Hill — including Senator Dianne Feinstein, chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and Senator Joseph Lieberman, a former Democratic vice presidential nominee.

Chiang has also met with academics and is expected to talk with members of the administration of US President Barack Obama.

He was to attend the 60th National Prayer Breakfast — to champion faith, freedom, democracy and human rights — yesterday. Obama was expected at the breakfast, but there were no plans for them to meet.

Addressing the conservative Heritage Foundation on “Cross-Strait Relations After Taiwan’s 2012 Election,” Chiang said the time was not yet right to “jump into” sensitive areas, such as the working out a peace accord with China.

He said the KMT policy on cross-strait relations would not change over the next four years, nor would the “very strong, solid, substantive” ties it had developed with the US.

Relations between Taipei and Washington were closer than at any time since 1949, he said.

During Ma’s second term in office, Chiang said the KMT would put economics before politics when dealing with China.

“We will be necessarily tough over the so-called sovereignty issue. People in Taiwan are watching Ma and the KMT very closely,” he said.

He added that Taiwanese did not want to risk anything that might “sell off” Taiwan and that Ma would never take such a risk.

“We have not done any damage to the sovereignty issue,” Chiang said.

China’s current “relaxed policy” toward Taiwan was largely due to the work of Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤), he said, adding that he could see no reason why policies would change under Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (習近平), who is expected to be the country’s next leader.

“It is a policy emphasizing carrots over sticks. I think this policy will continue. I am very much optimistic,” Chiang said.

Looking forward to 2016 — the end of Ma’s current term — Chiang said that he expected to see “a more robust democracy” in Taiwan by that time.

“Freedom and democracy will definitely be there,” he added.

Chiang said that Lieberman would ask the Obama administration to send someone to Taipei soon to quickly complete the pending visa-waiver agreement.

It could be in force by September or October of this year, Chiang said.

On the subject of trade with China, Chiang said that Taiwan would definitely not put all of its eggs in one basket and that it planned to increase trade with other countries in the region.

“We are definitely clear that the future of Taiwan will be decided by the Taiwanese people, but we have to maintain the status quo across the Taiwan Strait. This has nothing to do with the sovereignty issue,” he said.

Chiang said he was aware that some people thought that Taiwan was moving too close to China and might “fall into a trap and our sovereignty will be eroded.”

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