The challenge ahead for the US in dealing with China at a time of serious global issues is to project its fundamental values, a visiting US politician said yesterday in Taipei, as he emphasized that these values have long been shared by Taiwan.
Former US ambassador to Beijing Jon Huntsman delivered a speech titled America 2012: Challenges and Opportunities at a forum hosted by Taipei Forum, a think thank established by former National Security Council secretary-general Su Chi (蘇起).
China, where Huntsman served from 2009 until last year, before he returned to the US to participate in the Republican presidential primary, was one of the four things he thought would drive the world in the future, along with the US, the energy issue and the EU.
As China is set to convene its 18th Party Congress and a fifth generation of leaders, widely presumed to be led by Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (習近平), is to take the helm, Huntsman said that the legacy of former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平) is coming to an end.
Huntsman said that Deng left three legacies for China: a diplomatic opening to the rest of the world, an economic opening and ensuing liberalization, and the primacy of the Chinese Communist Party as the focus of decisionmaking.
The new Chinese leaders of the fifth generation would be a “tough generation to negotiate with,” Huntsman said, adding that they think China has arisen and that the US is maybe experiencing a moment of difficulty.
Huntsman said the US has “three deficits: a fiscal deficit, a trust deficit, and a confidence deficit,” but that the US “has the ability to repair our faults.”
The US debt problem seems more “a national security issue” than merely an economic issue, public support for Congress is at an all-time low, and Americans have lost confidence, “yet when you look at what the US has as assets on the balance sheet, it’s still a strong nation,” Huntsman said.
With so many global challenges ahead, the relationship between the US and China has gone from a bilateral relationship to a global relationship, but they are “still walking through the difficulty of forging a global relationship,” he said.
Huntsman said that US-China relations are an opportunity for the US to “project values.”
“The US should be unafraid to articulate our values of liberty, democracy, human rights and the free market,” Huntsman said. The values remain the same no matter whether the economy goes up or down or which administration is in the White House, he said.
On the issue of the human rights situation in China, Huntsman said that the US should of course take up the issue with Beijing, as he said that “we always get stronger when we do and always regret it at some point in the future when we don’t.”
Huntsman, who spent several years living in Taiwan — he first came to Taiwan in 1979 and returned in 1987 — said that the US and Taiwan “share too much in common” in terms of values and their views of security and stability.
The “strengths” that Taiwan has are its people and its commitments to values, he said.
“Everywhere I go, I am very impressed by the power and strengths of people living in a free society. It’s only up to your imagination and creativity about where you go,” he said.
Huntsman said the commitment to values that Taiwan has is also what is important about the US, over and above its military and economic power.
“When you can combine the energy and intelligence of the population with values, nothing can stop you,” he said.
In response to media inquiries regarding the possibility of the US abandoning Taiwan, Huntsman said that he had heard such talk, but it was very weakly supported.
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