Tue, Oct 25, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Schriver warns of the US losing sway over China

INSECURITY The former top US official said that its increasing debt has left the US with less influence in its relations with China, and Taiwan should reconsider its own political strategies

By Chang Yun-ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

Randall Schriver, former US deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, speaks at a forum for Taiwan-US-Japan Strategic Talks hosted by the Taiwan Thinktank in Taipei yesterday. Mainland Affairs Council Chairman Joseph Wu can be seen in the background.

PHOTO: CHIEN JUNG-FONG, TAIPEI TIMES

The US' preoccupation with the war on Iraq, coupled with the "hyper economic interdependence" between China and the US, has left the US government with less latitude to alter China's behavior, a former top-ranking US official in charge of US-China-Taiwan relations said yesterday.

Randall Schriver, former US deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs said that China's ability to finance US debts in a significant way had limited the US' options in influencing Chinese behavior and had also impacted on decision-making in security matters.

Schriver's comments were part of a luncheon speech to Taiwanese officials and media in a forum for Taiwan-US-Japan Strategic Talks hosted by the Taiwan Thinktank in Taipei. Among those attending were Mainland Affairs Council Chairman Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) and Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Michael Kao (高英茂).

Citing US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick's description of Sino-US economic relations as "an economic version of mutually assured destruction," Schriver said the US was increasingly losing the leverage to move China in directions that it otherwise would not do, such as making improvements in human rights.

"The success of our economy is so closely linked to China in a very fundamental way that didn't exist a decade ago," Schriver said.

This was particularly the case as "China is financing our debt because they are allowing us to do this deficit spending, allowing us to finance the world without raising taxes."

"When people talk about trying to alter or influence China's behavior, I think certain things have been taken off the table now in a way that wasn't like this a decade ago," Schriver said.

Although recognizing changes in US-China dynamics would impact on the US' decision-making in security matters, Schriver, who is now working with Armitage Assoc-iates, said how this would work would depend on the scenario and would not alter the US' overall commitment to Taiwan.

Schriver also said that the political division between the pan-blue and pan-green camps has seriously undermined the country's ability to uphold nat-ional security, in reference to the long-stalled arms-procurement bill which has been rejected 33 times by the pan-blue dominated Procedure Committee.

"I can't think of another country that has the fundamental division that results in such disputes over what is the primary security threat to the country, and the problem associated with this is the decision to not invest fully in military capability because of a political paralysis," he said.

Schriver said he was not so worried about the expressions of robust democracy and disagreement between parties, which are present everywhere, but about the fact that the resulting paralysis could lead to a tipping point where China might develop the military capability to attack Taiwan without the US being able to defend it.

The former US official also encouraged Taiwan to move beyond its traditional approach to diplomacy by securing a number of diplomatic allies or cultivating ties with US and Japan, to focusing on promoting good global citizenship and regional citizenship as a way to challenge China's growing clout.

"I am afraid the diplomacy of Taiwan has not been sufficiently reoriented given the challenge posed by [China]. The scorecard approach to who has formal diplomatic relations with who and what kind of treatment our friends in Taiwan can get from capitals around the world is the wrong kind of approach for diplomacy in Taiwan," he said.

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