Former chairwoman of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Therese Shaheen yesterday said President Chen Shui-bian's (
Speaking in an exclusive interview with the Taipei Times yesterday, Shaheen said that although she is supportive of the liberalization of trade in goods and services across the Strait, the government has the right to put constraints on industry if certain commercial activities put national security in jeopardy.
"All governments have a right to put constraints on trade ? and governments will still define industries that need to be restricted based on national security for a whole variety reasons," Shaheen said.
Shaheen said her understanding of Chen's "active management, effective opening" policy was that, "Effectively we're open, but we're [also] going to be proactive and careful about exactly what we're giving the permission for because we don't know how this could be used against us. We don't know how it could hollow [out] our industries."
Using the US as an analogy, Shaheen said Washington has the same problem with its business relations with China, as the advanced technologies the US exports to other countries might be re-exported to China for "dual use" -- in other words for use in weapons systems.
Shaheen, who still maintains close friendships with many high-ranking officials in Taiwan, is on a three-day visit to Taiwan. Yesterday she attended a luncheon hosted by the president. She also met with Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (
Shaheen said she didn't regard Chen's remarks on constitutional change in his New Year speech as alarming, and that her understanding of the US' attitude toward Chen's constitutional ideas was also that there was "no particular alarm" about it in Washington.
The bottom line the US upholds on any changes made to Taiwan's Constitution is that no unilateral change in the cross-strait relationship is made, Shaheen said.
The former AIT head said she believed the constitution Chen proposes will not be an entirely new one and that it would comply with the "five noes," in which the president promised not to alter the status of Taiwan's sovereignty and territory.
Regarding the country's long-stalled arms procurement budget to purchase advanced weapons from the US, Shaheen said the issue is important because Taiwan doesn't have the military capability to overwhelm China, and this increases the stakes for the US if it is dragged into a cross-strait military conflict should any provocation between China and Taiwan evolve into a war.
Shaheen had strong words for the pan-blue argument that Taiwan can't win a war with the People's Republic of China (PRC) and this therefore annuls the need to purchase weapons to counteract Beijing's fast growing military power.
"That's the stupidest argument I've ever heard in my life. How many countries in the world can win a war with the PRC?" she said.
Shaheen said that increasing Taiwan's defense capability is important, because it can provide a valid deterrent to Beijing, and this would reduce the burden on Washington to provide for Taiwan's self-defense, including military operations between Taiwan and the US.