Nevertheless, it had triggered political passions and created dangers that could have gotten out of hand with miscalculations and accidents.
Ma’s encouragement of the flotilla was “unhelpful” and was not part of the “measured and calm” steps the US wants to foster.
Romberg said he did not see “any of this having serious impact on Taiwan US relations,” but that it underscored the importance of close consultation between Taipei and Washington on a timely basis.
The discussion ended on a sour note when Chen became involved in an angry exchange during the question period with Washington-based liaison for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Michael Fonte.
Fonte disputed Chen’s claim that the San Francisco Peace Treaty ceded the Diaoyutai Islands to Taiwan and said their ownership was still undecided.
Chen accused Fonte of deliberately omitting facts and twisting history when all Fonte really wanted to say was that the people of Taiwan had the right to self-determination.
“I am happy to say that,” Fonte said.
Romberg said there were different views on how various treaties dealt with the ownership of Taiwan and of the Diaoyutai Islands.
He said the US “sidesteps” the question of Taiwan’s ownership and regards the relationship between Taiwan and China as something the two sides should settle peacefully themselves.