Tue, Nov 10, 2015 - Page 1 News List

Obama government ignoring Taiwanese needs: Marco Rubio

By William Lowther  /  Staff reporter in WASHINGTON

US Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican presidential hopeful, has accused the administration of US President Barack Obama of ignoring Taiwan’s interests, “including its urgent need for defensive arms.”

It is the first time that Taiwan had been seriously introduced into the US presidential campaign.

“In the face of Chinese coercion, the United States must reassert its commitment to Taiwan’s security,” Rubio, who is co-chairman of the Congressional Executive Commission on China, said in a statement on Sunday.

“It has been four years since the White House notified Congress of a major arms sale to Taiwan, the longest period without such a notification in over 25 years,” he said.

The statement was in response to President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) meeting in Singapore on Saturday.

Following the last televised Republican debate, Rubio surged in the polls, although he remains behind the two leading “outsider” candidates, business mogul Donald Trump and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson.

He is ahead of one-time favorite former Florida governor Jeb Bush, and, despite a potential financial scandal, the US press is reporting that “establishment” Republicans are gravitating to Rubio.

It remains to be seen if the leading Democratic hopefuls, former US secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders, will respond to Rubio’s comments about Taiwan.

Referring to the Singapore meeting, Rubio said that he welcomed cross-strait dialogue that furthers peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

“The US should also welcome Chinese President Xi’s recognition that stability is best served by dealing with Taiwan as an equal partner,” Rubio said. “Such bilateral engagement at the highest levels should be the new norm in cross-strait relations, regardless of who is in power in Taipei.”

Rubio went on to say that Washington must remain “clear-eyed” about China’s intentions.

He said the timing of the meeting suggested a Chinese attempt to influence Taiwan’s presidential elections.

“Beijing should refrain from any efforts to interfere in Taiwan’s democratic political processes,” Rubio said.

“This meeting, moreover, should not distract from the fact that China has for decades pursued a coercive policy towards Taiwan, isolating it from the international community and directly threatening it with more than 1,000 missiles aimed at the island,” he said.

Rubio said that Taiwan had shown the world that traditional Chinese culture and democracy could coexist and even flourish.

“Taiwan’s continued existence as a vibrant, prosperous democracy in the heart of Asia is crucial to American security interests there and to the continued expansion of liberty and free enterprise in the region,” he said.

The US must do more to help Taiwan counter the growing military threat from China, he said.

“Instead of focusing on petty bilateral trade disputes, the US should be pushing for Taiwan’s eventual inclusion in additional international organizations and trade agreements,” he said.

“We too must engage with Taiwan at higher levels to ensure peace and stability across the Strait,” he said.

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