Thu, Jul 18, 2013 - Page 3 News List

US to back ICAO bid even after China protest: source

SOLID SUPPORT:Sources in Washington said China’s complaint that supporting Taiwan’s bid violates the ‘one China’ policy would not change the US’ stance

By William Lowther  /  Staff reporter in WASHINGTON

Washington on Tuesday reacted coolly to a complaint from China about new US legislation expressing support for Taiwan’s bid to gain observer status at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), sources said.

Sources at the US Department of State and the US House of Representatives assured the Taipei Times that the complaint would have no impact on the US’ stance.

US President Barack Obama signed the legislation into law last week and instructed US Secretary of State John Kerry to push for Taiwan’s ICAO bid.

The legislation “seriously violated” the “one China” policy, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Hua Chunying (華春瑩) said in Beijing.

Hua said Beijing urged Washington to stop interfering in China’s internal affairs.

The complaint came as an overview of US-Taiwan policy issues was released by Congressional Research Service specialists Shirley Kan and Wayne Morrison.

The report is aimed at keeping US Congress members of up to date on vital issues. It said that Beijing continues to block Taiwan’s participation in international meetings and organizations.

For decades, Taipei has “harbored fears” about whether Beijing’s cooperation with Washington has occurred at the expense of Taiwan’s interests, the overview said.

“US policy seeks a cooperative relationship with a rising PRC [People’s Republic of China], which opposes US arms sales and other official dealings with Taiwan as interference in its internal affairs...” it said.

The report also warned that as President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) second term progresses, Beijing could increase pressure on Taiwan to conduct political and military cross-strait negotiations.

Beijing’s patience may be tested by Taiwanese’s sustained sense of identity, it added.

“Despite the pronouncements of a ‘one China’ by leaders in Taipei and Beijing, and closer cross-strait ties, Taiwan’s people retain a strong Taiwan-centric identity after over a century of mostly separation from mainland China,” the report said.

The overview emphasized that Taiwanese have pursued prosperity, security and a democratic way of life and self-governance.

Moderate Taiwanese voters have generally supported close economic ties to the PRC, but political separation, it added.

According to the overview, in August last year only 0.9 percent of Taiwanese surveyed wanted cross-strait unification to be realized soon as possible, while 84 percent wanted to maintain the “status quo” and 7 percent called for immediate independence. The remaining 8 percent voiced no opinion.

“President Ma has to deal with a political propensity in his own party [the Chinese Nationalist Pary (KMT)] to move even closer to the PRC,” the overview said.

It said that two months before Ma’s second inaugural address, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) called for a new phase of mutual political trust, economic benefits for both sides and shaping Taiwan’s cultural understanding of the “one China national identity.”

A month before Ma’s address, then-TAO director Wang Yi (王毅) visited Washington and met with US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, where he indicated Beijing’s expectations to hold political talks with Taipei.

Beijing could soon start pressuring Taipei to start “preparing for, if not pressing for” political and military talks, the study said.

It added that the US has “concerns” that Taiwan under Ma has not given sufficient priority to national defense because it cut the defense budget in 2009, 2010 and 2011 until an increase last year.

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