Fri, Mar 27, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Stanton favored for AIT post: sources

‘CHINA EXPERT’ William A. Stanton, who is firming as Stephen Young’s replacement, is alleged to have impeded internal reports critical of China while serving in Beijing

By William Lowther  /  STAFF REPORTER IN WASHINGTON

Well-placed sources in Washington have confirmed that William A. Stanton, deputy chief of mission at the US embassy in South Korea, is in line to become the next director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT).

Other sources said that Stanton would be a controversial choice because he has a history of strong support for Beijing’s policies and had impeded internal reports critical of the Chinese regime.

One source said that Stanton’s name was at the top of a shortlist for the Taiwan posting but that no decision had been made.

Because of the delicate nature of the information, the sources talked on condition that their names not be used.

But one source provided the Taipei Times with a copy of a report that was submitted to the State Department in the mid-1990s that claimed Stanton was excessively pro-China.

It is not clear what, if any, action was taken by the State Department as a result of complaints against Stanton while he was posted in Beijing.

The source said that Stanton, while stationed in Beijing in the mid-1990s, had impeded a series of cables critical of the Chinese government from being sent to the State Department in Washington.

The source said: “The common thread in all [of the cables] is criticism of one sort or another of the Chinese government.”

The source said that in 1995, following the much-celebrated Women’s Conference in Beijing Washington asked for a report on the impact of the conference on Chinese attitudes.

Stanton would not allow the report to be sent because it included details of Chinese press reports that attacked the conference, the source said.

“A pattern soon emerged where drafts critical of the Chinese government or leadership were regularly blocked from transmission,” said the report that was viewed by the Taipei Times.

Also in the report is an allegation that Stanton prevented Washington from receiving information from a Third World diplomat about Chinese military plans “with regard to Taiwan prior to presidential elections there.”

The 1996 presidential elections were preceded by the firing of Chinese missiles that landed in waters near Kaohsiung and Keelung.

It was further alleged that Stanton would not allow Washington to be told of the way Chinese officials were forcibly repatriating North Korean refugees.

The report also said that during a Fourth of July celebration at Washington’s embassy in Beijing, Stanton “ordered the papier mache construction of the Statue of Liberty to be placed in the backyard of the Chancery, away from the street, so as not to offend the sensitivities of the Chinese leadership, since apparently it might serve as a reminder for them of the Goddess of Democracy statue torn down in Tiananmen Square.”

A former senior US official said it would have been impossible for Stanton to block cables. Throughout Stanton’s career as a diplomat, he had made friends and, of course, enemies too, added the former official, who declined to be identified.

Stanton’s last two assignments have been in South Korea and Australia. He has been in Seoul since August 2006 after serving as deputy chief of mission at the US embassy in Australia for three years.

From 1995 to 1998 Stanton was minister counselor for political affairs at the US embassy in Beijing and deputy director of the Office of Chinese and Mongolian Affairs from 1994 to 1995.

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