Fri, Jul 13, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan is pivotal in US-China ties, new study says

By William Lowther  /  Staff reporter in Washington

Taiwan remains a “highly sensitive factor” in the growing strategic rivalry between Washington and Beijing, a new study says.

J. Stapleton Roy, director of the Kissinger Institute on China and the US, warns that both sides should exercise “wisdom and restraint” in their respective approaches.

A former US ambassador to China, Roy says in the study entitled Strategic Challenges for the US-China Relationship that the next decade is likely to be decisive in determining the future course of relations.

“As Chinese military capabilities increase, neither Washington nor Taipei can expect to be able to maintain the type of military balance that has existed in the past,” he says.

“Greater reliance will have to be placed on the quality of cross-strait ties to protect Taiwan from coercive threats or actions,” Roy says.

Meanwhile, recent developments across the Strait have demonstrated “this is not an unattainable goal.”

US policy, including the sale of defensive arms to Taiwan, has provided an “important underpinning” for major improvements in cross-strait ties, Roy says. “Yet Beijing consistently ignores in its public commentary the positive aspects of the US approach to Taiwan, while lambasting the US for arms sales to the island,” he adds.

Roy’s study appears along with five others in the journal Asia Policy published this week by the National Bureau of Asian Research in Seattle.

One of the other papers, by James Steinberg — US President Barack Obama’s first deputy secretary of state — says that US-China tensions will not disappear and could raise the danger of “unforeseen developments” leading to a serious crisis.

Steinberg, now dean of the Maxwell School at Syracuse University, says that while such an outcome is not inevitable, without a more active and successful effort to manage structural tensions, “the risks will grow substantially.”

“The re-election of Ma Ying-jeou in Taiwan will help serve as a buffer for inherent US-China tensions arising from the US-Taiwan relationship,” he says.

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