Thu, Nov 05, 2015 - Page 1 News List

US welcomes meeting, despite reservations

By William Lowther  /  Staff reporter in WASHINGTON

“As with the 1996 presidential elections, it seems possible that this move could cause a strong counter-reaction in Taiwan, particularly among the younger generation,” said Gallagher, who is director of the university’s Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies. “It appears that the KMT [Chinese Nationalist Party] is trying to use a meeting with Xi to influence the election and this could undermine support in Taiwan for the Nationalist Party — not increase it.”

Richard Bush, a former American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) chairman who is now director for East Asia policy studies at the Brookings Institution, said he hoped the meeting would proceed in a manner completely acceptable to both sides and have a stabilizing effect on cross-strait relations.

Gerrit van der Wees, a senior policy adviser at the Formosa Association for Public Affairs, said he thought Ma was trying to salvage his legacy, turn the tide in the presidential election and pressure DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to embrace the so-called “1992 consensus.”

“A meeting between the leaders from the two sides should only be held after Taiwan has reached a broad consensus on future cross-strait relations,” Van der Wees said. “Ma is playing a political game of poker with the future of the country.”

In Taipei, AIT spokesperson Sonia Urbom yesterday said the US welcomes steps by both sides of the Taiwan Strait to reduce tensions and improve cross-strait ties.

As for whether the US was aware of, or consulted about, the unprecedented meeting in advance, Urbom declined to comment on details of diplomatic discussions.

Additional reporting by Stacy Hsu

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