Former American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) chairman Richard Bush on Friday said that the US was likely to try to “influence” Taiwan’s 2016 presidential elections.
While he did not speculate about what might happen, Bush indicated that Washington would declare a preference for the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) candidate because there were lingering doubts about the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) cross-strait policies.
This is possibly the first time a former US official of Bush’s standing has spoken about Washington’s purported involvement in Taiwanese politics.
Bush, now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told a conference on cross-strait relations that the 2016 election could change the role the nation plays in the way the US and China interact, and alter the nature of Taiwan-US-China relations.
It would depend on which party won the presidency, and on the politics and policies the new president would pursue, he said.
Bush said that it was too early to predict results and that current polls were probably meaningless.
Taiwan is seen, particularly by Chinese, as an integral part of Washington’s efforts to contain, restrain and obstruct Beijing, Bush said.
“An important point is that while Taiwan might have been a passive actor in this, it is not a passive actor anymore,” Bush said, adding that the nation had been “an active participant” for the past two decades and that through its actions, Taipei shaped many of the conclusions that Washington and Beijing reached.
The question to be considered is what Taiwan might do to shape these conclusions, Bush said.
He said that for the next couple of years cross-strait relations would be quiet, but they could change with the 2016 election.
“What I am prepared to say with some confidence is that the US government at some time and in some way will express itself about the implications of the 2016 election for US interests,” Bush said.
“I recognize ... that Washington is caught in a bit of a dilemma here,” he said. “On the one hand, we have the general principle that it is the voters of friendly democratic countries who should be the ones to pick their leaders at the ballot box, and the US should not try to influence their votes by questioning one candidate or the other; but on the other hand, the United States has interests in the policies of any leadership, whether it is Taiwan or any other place.”
“In spite of this dilemma, Washington has not been quiet,” Bush said.
He said that in 1996, the administration of then-US president Bill Clinton influenced Taiwanese elections by making statements and did so again in December 1999.
“I myself made a public statement in Taiwan where I laid out our view about Taiwan’s democratic election,” Bush said.
At that time, Bush was chairman and managing director of the American Institute in Taiwan.
He said that almost exactly four years after his statement, the White House made an announcement that was clearly critical of former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) policies and that in September 2007 there was another “long and detailed” critique of the Chen administration’s policies issued in advance of the 2008 election.
Then, four years later, in September 2011, the administration of US President Barack Obama let its views be known by having an anonymous official give an interview to the Financial Times, Bush said.
“So this is something we do,” Bush said. “We feel there is a need for us to express our views on how our interests will be affected by Taiwan’s elections.”
To “say nothing” as some in Taiwan might want, would actually be like making a statement anyway, he said.
‘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
WORKING OVERTIME? NTU professor Lee Duu-jong denied that he had held a part-time position at a Chinese university or joined China’s Thousand Talents Program A candidate for the post of National Taiwan University of Science and Technology (NTUST) president yesterday dropped out of the race following a report questioning his links to Chinese academia and government programs. Lee Duu-jong (李篤中), a professor at National Taiwan University’s (NTU) chemical engineering department, was a member of China’s Changjiang Scholars’ Program in 2006 and was on the list of its Thousand Talents Program in 2017, a report by Chinese-language Mirror Media magazine said yesterday. The article said that Lee is suspected of having held a part-time job at the Harbin Institute of Technology in China and was the recipient