Sun, Apr 19, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan-US relations heading toward crisis: pundits

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Pundits said yesterday that Taiwan-US relations were heading toward a crisis because President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) China-leaning policies have made US intervention in cross-strait relations more difficult.

At a forum held to discuss Taiwan-China-US relations in the wake of last week’s 30th anniversary of the enactment of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), Lai I-chung (賴怡忠), an executive member of the pro-localization Taiwan Thinktank and former director of the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) International Affairs Department, said that 2012 would be an important year for Taiwan’s survival.

Washington is preoccupied with the economic recession and peace-keeping work in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as nuclear challenges from Iran and North Korea, and challenges from the rise of leftist governments in Latin America. The US is likely to pay little attention to the Taiwan Strait, and therefore regards “no news as good news” when it comes to cross-strait affairs, Lai said.

Lai added that because China’s clout was increasing and the US needed China’s cooperation on a range of international and economic issues, US policymakers would not likely challenge China on issues related to Taiwan.

Current US-Taiwan policy is passive and could only be described as “crisis management and war avoidance,” said Lai, adding that the TRA would become trivial if this situation continued.

While Ma’s government was getting closer to China at an unexpected speed, China has not relaxed its tough approach toward Taiwan, Lai said. Instead it was taking every chance to control the nation in terms of economics, cross-strait negotiations, Taiwan’s diplomacy and others.

Lai said that because Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) and Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) were scheduled to step down in 2012, they likely wanted to leave a legacy and set the course for their successors.

Also, Ma’s four-year term will expire in 2012 and Beijing is likely to make an effort to help Ma win re-election, Lai said.

Lai said if the US continued to ignore the Taiwan Strait, then 2012 might be a year of dramatic change.

Former representative to the US Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) told the forum Ma’s government did not seek to improve Taiwan-US relations, and its China-leaning policies had not brought Taiwan any closer to the US.

He said Ma had only received good treatment from the US when he stopped in Los Angeles and San aLatin America and the Caribbean in August last year, and Washington did not approve selling F-16 fighter jets and diesel submarines that Taiwan had requested.

He said Ma was ignoring Taiwan’s democratic ally, while pushing the country toward a crisis.

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