The Bush administration on Tuesday refused to disclose the name of the successor to American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director Douglas Paal, as the name of Stephen Young, a former deputy director of AIT, continued to appear to be the only contender for the job.
Raymond Burghardt, the man tipped to be the next AIT chairman, says he still has not been notified by the State Department whether or not he will be given the position.
The department refused to disclose the name of Paal's successor, and spokesman Sean McCormack said that the department would continue to be silent until "a new director is named and arrives in Taipei."
McCormack heaped lavish praise on Paal, who announced that he will leave his post on Jan. 25 after three-and-a-half years.
"He did a great job," McCormack said.
"He did an outstanding job ... and we thank him very much for his service," McCormack added.
Young, a 25-year foreign service veteran who was the No. 2 man in Taipei under Burghardt and his predecessor, Darryl Johnson, from 1998 to 2001, was ambassador to Kyrgyzstan until he retired last summer after two years in the position.
He had reportedly been scheduled to assume the Taipei post last summer, when Paal was originally slated to retire.
But Paal's term was extended until the end of last year in order to give him the tenure to receive a full retirement pension after he was repeatedly passed over for other, more senior positions.
If Young is named, the appointment would dismay many conservatives in Washington, who consider him pro-China.
The so-called Blue Team of ardent conservatives were firmly against Paal, and many feel that Young would be just as objectionable.
One Blue Team member recalls a briefing Young gave congressional staffers in early 2001, in which he "trashed" the pan-greens.
Young "made it quite clear he did not like [President] Chen [Shui-bian (陳水扁)]" and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), the Blue Team source, who is a strong supporter of Taiwan, told the Taipei Times.
The animosity between Young and the DPP was similar to that between Paal and Chen, the source said.
While Chen honored Young with the Order of Brilliant Star with Grand Cordon before Young left Taipei, the Blue Team sources felt that Chen did not know about Young's feelings until after he awarded him the medal.
Former deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asia Randall Schriver, put in a bid to replace Paal but that was rejected by the White House, a source familiar with the selection process said.
Schriver left the State Department, following his mentor, former deputy assistant secretary of state Richard Armitage, into his consulting firm.
Both men, according to the source, left the administration in disfavor, having supported former secretary of state Colin Powell in a number of disputes with other, more conservative officials, in the Pentagon and vice president's office.