“Ma is having a difficult time in Taiwan at the moment,” Hammond-Chambers said, adding: “It is negatively impacting his ability to pass the most recent agreement between Taiwan and China, and the Chinese are frustrated that Taiwan does not seem to be prepared to move into political and military discussions.”
At the same time, the US has taken its “eye off the ball,” he said.
Hammond-Chambers said that the US was “hugely vested” in peace and security in the Taiwan Strait. However, if Washington was not focused on what was taking place between Taiwan and China — and the inherent difficulties that Ma now faces in continuing to move forward — “we run the risk that tensions will again start to rise in the Taiwan Strait.”
He said the US did not appear interested in investing significantly in the relationship with Taiwan and impressing upon China that it remained engaged.
“Actions speak louder than words,” he said.
Hammond-Chambers said that it had been years since a US assistant secretary of state had given a speech on the importance of Taiwan relations.
“This was an opportunity to do that, to talk about where they think the relationship is and where it is going — and they took a pass,” he said.
Only two Taiwan arms sales programs are still being considered by the US — the provision of F-16C/D aircraft and assistance to Taiwan in procuring submarines.
However, there was “no political will” to move forward with either of them, he said.