Sun, Jun 17, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Experts mull political talks with China

REGIONAL DILEMMA:Cross-strait military cooperation was proposed by one academic to bolster South China Sea claims, while another said negotiations remained unlikely

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Academics yesterday explored the possibility of cross-strait cooperation in military and regional issues during President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) second term and discussed the challenges ahead for Taiwan and China on bilateral relations.

Pan Chao-min (潘兆民), head of the Association for Managing Defense and Strategies’ cross-strait division, proposed cross-strait cooperation in safeguarding the sovereignty of Taiwan’s South China Sea islands amid escalating tension in the region.

Because China controls Yongxing Island (永興島), also known as Woody Island, the largest of the Paracel Islands (西沙群島), and Taiwan administers Taiping Island (太平島), the largest of the Spratly Islands (南沙群島), the issue provides “a perfect platform” on which both sides of the strait can cooperate, Pan said at a forum hosted by the association.

Accusing the Ma administration of being too passive about asserting sovereignty in the region, Pan suggested the government initiate “cooperative security” with China amid China and the US’ vying for supremacy in the Asia-Pacific region, Pan said.

Taiwan can take a proactive approach against Vietnam and the Philippines’ competing territorial claims in the South China Sea without worrying about repercussions from the US because the US would not side with the other two claimants, which would risk pushing Taiwan closer toward China, Pan said.

Pan said Taiwan should model itself on Kyrgyzstan, which adopts a multipronged approach to diplomacy by enhancing its traditional strategic relations with Russia while simultaneously developing strategic collaboration with the US.

Association deputy chief executive Chang Sue-chung (張淑中) praised the formula of “one Republic of China, two areas (一個中華民國,兩個地區)” advocated by the Ma administration to define the current status of Taiwan and China.

She said the phrase could counteract China’s “one China principle” and serve as another basis from which both sides could start political negotiations, along with the so-called “1992 consensus,” which says that each side has its own interpretation of one China.

Yao Chung-yuan (姚中原), a consultant and researcher at the association, doubted Ma would negotiate with China on political and military issues.

One of the most intractable obstacles to both nations starting political negotiations was the inflexibility of China’s position on the “one China principle” and its unyielding goal to pursue unification with Taiwan, Yao said.

Association researcher Chang Che-ming (張哲銘) criticized the Ministry of National Defense over what he described as its “lukewarm reaction” to US President Barack Obama’s administration proposal to sell F-16C/Ds fighter jets to Taiwan.

The ministry’s attitude on F-16C/Ds could be part of the Ma administration’s grand strategy for dealing with China, in which “not offending China is the bottom line,” but the government might find it harder to find help from the US Congress on national defense if it keeps espousing such a lack of enthusiasm about procuring US arms, Chang said.

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