Thu, Jan 19, 2012 - Page 3 News List

US expert sees cautious cross-strait policy

CONSOLIDATING GAINS:Former AIT chairman Richard Bush said that negotiations over cross-strait political and security issues are not high on Ma Ying-jeou’s agenda

By William Lowther  /  Staff Reporter in Washington

“The United States should be a major target of Taiwan’s broader liberalization effort. This should be a strategic priority for both of our countries and in pursuing this priority, neither Taipei nor Washington should allow narrow domestic political interests to get in the way,” he said.

Bush said that Taiwan was important as a litmus test of what kind of great power China would become.

“If China approaches the Taiwan Strait issue in a way that is flexible, conceptually creative and responsive to the sensitivities of the people on Taiwan, that will indicate that China’s revival will be positive,” he said.

“If, on the other hand, China’s approach to Taiwan is conceptually rigid, unresponsive to popular feeling and laden with pressure tactics, that will send a different message about the broader trend,” he said.

Bonnie Glaser, a senior fellow in China studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the DPP would continue to play a critically important role in Ma’s second term.

Among other important duties, it would be tasked with keeping the ruling party honest.

She said Taiwan remained a “beacon of democracy to Asia and the world” and represented a model to which people in China could aspire to.

“Ma’s re-election for a second term will ensure continued stability and predictability in cross-strait relations, which is critical for American interests,” she said.

“The US will not have to worry about the reemergence of cross-strait tensions or the implications of reunification. The US will continue to support Ma’s pragmatic approach to dealing with Beijing,” Glaser said.

She added there was not likely to be pressure on Ma to move more slowly or quickly to enhance cross-strait relations.

“The US will leave it up to Taiwan to decide. Washington will expect to be consulted as a friend and quasi-ally with important interests at stake,” she said.

“US policy towards Taiwan will likely continue to be guided by the view that only a secure and confident Taiwan will negotiate with Beijing. US ties with Taiwan must therefor remain strong,” she said.

“In Ma’s second term, whether [US] President [Barack] Obama is re-elected or replaced by a Republican, it is likely that US arms sales to Taiwan will continue. The question is what will be sold,” she said.

“President Ma’s request to purchase F-16C/Ds remains a front burner issue,” she added.

Moderators for the conference’s three panels were Edward McCord, director of the Taiwan education and research program at the George Washington University; Nancy Bernkopf Tucker, professor of history at Georgetown University; and Cynthia Watson, professor of strategy at the National War College.

Among the panelists were Apple Daily columnist Antonio Chiang (江春男); Academia Sinica research fellow Chu Yun-han (朱雲漢) and associate research fellow David Huang (黃偉峰); and Carnegie Endowment vice president of studies Douglas Paal.

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