Although US defense officials welcome recent efforts to improve relations across the Taiwan Strait, some are starting to show a high degree of concern about possible cooperation between Taiwan and China on South China Sea disputes, Taiwanese academics say.
At the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore last weekend, US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said Washington strongly supports the efforts that Taiwan and China have made in recent years to improve cross-strait relations.
While Panetta strongly encouraged further development in that direction, in more quiet settings, US officials are reportedly expressing reservations about possible cooperation between Taiwan and China on military issues, including South China Sea disputes and an eventual mutual-trust mechanism.
Commenting on the future role of the US in the region, Lan Ning-li (蘭寧利), a retired vice admiral and a researcher at the National Policy Foundation (NPF), the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) think tank, said that while Washington would continue to support peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, privately, some US officials are worried about the possibility that Taipei and Beijing could jointly seek to address South China Sea disputes.
Taiwan and China both claim several islands in the South China Sea, which has generated disputes with other regional claimants, including the Philippines and Vietnam.
Alexander Huang (黃介正), a professor at the Graduate Institute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies at Tamkang University, said the US was “very concerned” about Taiwan’s policy orientation in the South China Sea, adding that there was a “high degree of concern” about whether cross-strait cooperation would extend to the South China Sea.
Huang said Taiwanese representatives attending international conferences on security issues in the past have made US academics jittery with their stance on the South China Sea.
A delegation of academics from Taiwan attended this year’s Shangri-La conference, including Liu Fu-kuo (劉復國), executive director of the MacArthur Center for Security Studies (MCSS) at the Institute of International Relations at National Chengchi University, Arthur Ding (丁樹範), a professor of international relations at that university, and Wang Kao-cheng (王高成) of the Institute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies at Tamkang University.
The MCSS last year co-published a book with the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs-linked National Institute for South China Sea Studies suggesting that Taiwan and China should make joint efforts to safeguard sovereignty over disputed areas in the South China Sea, arguing that sovereignty belonged to “one China.”
National Security Bureau Director-General Tsai Der-sheng (蔡得勝) said last month the time was not right for Taiwan to implement a proposal by the NPF that both sides use the South China Sea as a “pioneer region” to implement a military mutual-trust mechanism and denied there were plans for Taiwan to cooperate with China on the issue.
Additional reporting by CNA
‘NO EQUILIBRIUM’: Taiwan’s increased defense spending is a good step, but it needs to do more to have the ability to deter aggression from China, a senior US official said The US plans to sell as many as seven major weapons systems — including mines, cruise missiles and drones — to Taiwan, four people familiar with the discussions said. Pursuing seven sales at once is a rare departure from years of precedent in which US military sales to Taiwan were spaced out and carefully calibrated to minimize tensions with Beijing. However, US President Donald Trump’s administration has this year become more aggressive with China, and the sales would land as relations between Beijing and Washington are at their lowest point in decades over accusations of spying, lingering trade tensions, disputes about the
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS: Several of the PLA fighter jets that crossed the median line of the Strait came within 68km of Hsinchu, drawing warnings from Taiwan, the ministry said At least 18 Chinese military aircraft yesterday flew into the nation’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on the second day of a US delegation’s visit, the Ministry of National Defense said, adding that the military responded by deploying an air defense missile system to monitor their activities. A delegation led by US Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach on Thursday started a three-day visit to Taiwan. The ministry from Thursday started publicizing the actions of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Taiwan’s ADIZ on its Web site and Twitter. According to ministry reports, 18 PLA aircraft
ON THEIR OWN: The KMT has decided not to participate as a party at this year’s forum, and if any members do go, they would not be representing the party, Alicia Wang said The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday announced that it would not send a delegation “as a political party” to this year’s Straits Forum, after a Chinese TV program described the planned visit to the annual meeting as “suing for peace.” The 12th forum is scheduled to open in Xiamen, China, on Saturday. On Tuesday last week, the KMT announced that former legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) would lead the party’s delegation to the forum, with KMT Secretary-General Lee Chien-lung (李乾龍) as deputy head. However, on Thursday last week, China Central Television’s (CCTV) Yangshipin (央視頻) program, hosted by Li Hong (李紅), included a headline
RIVERSIDE CAMP: As rescuers continued their search for a missing man, Taipower said that the floodgates at a hydro plant on the Lishi Creek opened due to a malfunction Three people have been confirmed dead and one was missing after being swept away by a flash flood while camping in Nantou County’s Renai Township (仁愛), police said yesterday. Six people from two families were camping near Lishi Creek (栗栖溪) when the riverbanks were suddenly flooded just after 4am, carrying away four of the campers — including two children — who were asleep in their tents, police said. A man who was among those swept away was able to climb ashore and call for help, police said, adding that another man had gone missing in the turmoil at the campsite.