Sat, Jan 08, 2005 - Page 4 News List

Former AIT head talks about US ties

SPEAKING OUT Therese Shaheen said that although the US relationship with Taiwan is improving, the special arms procurement deal is a stumbling block

By Mac William Bishop  /  STAFF REPORTER

"My concern is that some people in the US think that we have to have other options, aside from coming to Taiwan's aid. They think it is impractical, given Taiwan's reduced capabilities," she said.

Shaheen refused to comment on recent remarks by US Secretary of State Colin Powell and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, but many analysts believe that the shift in opinion by some US policymakers about Taiwan's defense may have been the reason Armitage said the decision to intervene in a cross-strait conflict would rest with Congress.

This would appear to reflect Shaheen's concern about the US' willingness to aid Taiwan.

"That is why I keep encouraging Taiwan to acquire the systems the US has recommended as priority items," she said.

Seriousness needs to be shown

The best way for Taiwan to break the circular logic prevalent in Washington would be to do something substantial that demonstrates Taiwan's seriousness about defending itself and responsiveness to the US' requirements, should it be required to intervene in the Taiwan Strait, Shaheen said.

"I don't think the purchase of these systems will solve every problem in the US-Taiwan relationship. But if the Legislative Yuan would approve the procurement of some priority systems, it would help," she said.

Otherwise, "there is a danger that long-standing assumptions about what the US would do in the event Taiwan required US assistance would no longer apply," Shaheen said.

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