Sun, Dec 12, 2004 - Page 6 News List

Academics: Election won't alter US ties

Regardless of who controls the legislature, the US will still treat Taiwan the same, but some might interpret the will of the people differently

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

The legislative election results will have little impact on Taiwan-US relations but the world would look at them as an indicator of the Taiwanese people's aspirations for their national identity, visiting US academics said yesterday.

"If the pan-greens win, Bush will reiterate his statement that each side should be careful not to disturb this `status quo,' and that would be a way of warning [President] Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁)," said June Teufel Dreyer, commissioner of the congressional US-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

"If the pan-blues win, [Bush] will probably say the same thing, but he will be less worried that pan-blues will make some provocative change. But to me, the positions of pan-blues and pan-greens on cross-strait relations aren't that different. The language is different, but I don't think the ultimate intent is," said Dreyer, who is also a professor at the Department of Political Science at the University of Miami.

Beijing will finally have to come to the realization that either it will deal with the pan-greens, or it will have not have anyone to deal with.

"If the pan-blues do not win this time, it may be a long time before there is a pan-blue victory," Dreyer told reporters.

John Tkacik, research fellow of the Washington-based Heritage Foundation's Asian Studies Center, said that if the blues win, foreign countries might conclude that Taiwanese voters have expressed a democratic aspiration to stop the momentum of the last four years and reconsider their relationship primarily with China.

Newspapers around the world "will look at the Taiwanese elections as an indicator of the Taiwan[ese] people's aspirations for their national identity," he said.

If the greens win, the foreign media will think voters want to "democratically keep the momentum going for a new identity."

"It remains to be seen how this will affect Taiwan's relations with those countries," Tkacik said.

"In China, I think they will say if the blues win, it means that Taiwan wants to consider joining China. If the greens win, it means the Taiwan[ese] people want to reinvent their national identity," he said.

No matter who wins, China knows there is a division in Taiwan that is going to keep it from ever fully embracing China, observed Richard Kagan, professor of history at Hamline University.

With regard to Chen's recent proposal to change the names of the country's overseas representative offices to include "Taiwan," Dreyer said she does not think the announcement has seriously hurt US-Taiwan relations.

"I think this [name change] has to be done by agreement with each country individually. I am sure President Chen will try, but I am not sure he will succeed with all countries," she said.

Dreyer said the US State Department's opposition to Chen's proposal is a pre-emptive move on the part of the Bush administration.

"I don't think China has had to put any pressure on them. I think it's like self-censorship. They are so convinced that Beijing is getting angry that they are reacting without Beijing putting any pressure on them," she said.

"I think the Bush administration should be a bit stronger with regard to China, because as we all know, everything makes China angry. It's a self-defeating policy for the Bush administration to do this," Dreyer said.

Tkacik said there is a desire on the part of the US to not be surprised by things.

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