The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) yesterday denied a statement by a former chairman, Richard Bush, that the US may try to sway vote in the 2016 presidential election, saying the US government would not intervene in Taiwan’s elections.
“He [Bush] is not a government representative anymore, so he was speaking on his own capacity and does not represent the US government,” AIT spokesperson Mark Zimmer told the Taipei Times in a telephone interview. “We would leave the election to the people of Taiwan, and would not try to intervene or influence.”
AIT officials would meet with candidates during elections, “but that’s not influencing or showing our support for particular candidates,” he said.
Bush, now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told a conference on cross-strait relations in Washington on Friday that “the US government at some time and in some way will express itself about the implications of the 2016 election for US interests.”
While he did not speculate about what might happen, Bush indicated that Washington would declare a preference for the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) candidate because there were lingering doubts about the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) cross-strait policies.
Bush said that the US government, under the administrations of former US presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and US President Barack Obama, has shown its views on Taiwan’s presidential elections either through actions, public statements, or a newspaper interview of an anonymous official, such as was published in the Financial Times in 2012.
DPP Secretary-General Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), who served as Mainland Affairs Council chairman and the representative to the US during former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) administration and became the DPP’s representative in the US in November 2012, yesterday said that Taiwanese have the right to make their own decisions.
“The people of Taiwan have the right to vote without being influenced by an outside force,” he said. “If the people of Taiwan could only make decisions in accordance with the interests of a particular country, it is not only against US foreign policy, but also against the Taiwan Relations Act [TRA].”
The US government has always expressed its support for democracy and free elections in Taiwan, and has said it would work with democratically elected governments, adding that the TRA also states that Taiwan should be involved in a dialogue with China under no threats, Wu said.
“If anyone says that the US should intervene in the election in Taiwan because of China, the person is basically saying that ‘authoritarian China may decide on a democratic election,’” Wu said. “I believe this does not represent the mainstream opinion in the US.