The US Department of State on Tuesday joined a controversy surrounding remarks made by former American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) chairman Richard Bush about Taiwan’s presidential elections.
“Mr Bush does not speak for the US government and his comments were made in a personal capacity,” a Department of State spokesperson said.
Bush, director of the Center for East Asian Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution, last week told a Washington conference that the US government “at some time and in some way will express itself on the implications of the 2016 election for US interests.”
“This is something we do. We feel there is a need for us to express our views on how our interests will be affected by Taiwan’s elections,” he said.
Bush’s remarks were widely interpreted as meaning that Washington would try to interfere in the next presidential election and put its thumb on the scales in favor of the party whose policies it favors most.
However, the Department of State said on Tuesday: “We strongly support Taiwan’s democratic system and the will of the people of Taiwan to make their own choice in their upcoming elections.”
“We support free, fair and open elections. The United States has a longstanding interest in peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and urges both sides to avoid any provocative actions,” it said, adding: “We support continued improvement in cross-strait relations that will allow for increased contacts and a further reduction in tensions.”
Earlier the Taipei office of the AIT distanced itself from Bush’s remarks.
Bush was not the first former AIT official to suggest the US might try to play a role in Taiwan’s elections.
Before the previous presidential election, Carnegie Endowment vice president for studies Douglas Paal, a former director of the AIT, wrote that China had privately expressed hope for intervention by the administration of US President Barack Obama to “tilt the political playing field” in favor of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) government and against the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
Paal said that China had counted on former US president George W. Bush’s administration to rein in former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).
“But after Ma was elected, Beijing increasingly indicated it wanted the United States to back off. Once again the tide has turned and Beijing is looking to Washington for help to manage what it ordinarily insists are its internal affairs with Taiwan,” Paal said.
“This in turn will create a dilemma for Washington: How to appear impartial in Taiwan’s domestic elections and yet convey its preference for a continuation of Ma Ying-jeou’s management of cross-strait relations. Look for the Obama administration officials to state that they are impartial about the voting and will welcome whatever is the result of the democratic elections in Taiwan,” he said.
“But they are likely also to state that the United States hopes for a continuation of the reduction in tensions and would not welcome provocations from either side of the [Taiwan] Strait,” Paal said.
Addressing the convention last week, Richard Bush said that in September 2011, the Obama administration had “conveyed its views through the Financial Times.”
The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) said of this incident that the Obama administration had “apparently gotten into the business of interfering in other countries’ democratic elections.”
After DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) visited Washington in September 2011, the Financial Times reported that a senior US official told the newspaper that Tsai “had sparked concerns about stability in the Taiwan Strait, which is critically important to the US.”
“She left us with distinct doubts about whether she is both willing and able to continue the stability in cross-strait relations the region has enjoyed in recent years,” the senior official was reported as saying.
The institute said it was a “blatant effort” to undermine Tsai’s candidacy and influence the Taiwanese elections.
Following that incident, the Department of State said: “The official mentioned in the [Financial Times] article is totally unknown to us and certainly does not speak for the Obama administration. The administration does not take sides in Taiwan’s (or any country’s) election.”
Also, former US assistant secretary of state for East Asia Kurt Campbell told the US Congress: “We do not believe any one party or leader on Taiwan has a monopoly on effective management of the relationship, and we do not take sides in the elections.”
“We will work closely with whatever leadership emerges from Taiwan’s free and fair elections to build on our enduring commitment to Taiwan’s people, its prosperity and peace,” he said.
FEELING MISUNDERSTOOD: Media speculation has fueled confusion about the KMT’s reasons for skipping a Chinese forum and delaying an AIT meeting, party sources said The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) on Sunday said that it is not seeking to improve relations with the US or China at the expense of the other, and that its relations with the countries would be topic-based. The party has faced questions over its foreign policy after it on Monday last week announced its withdrawal from the annual Straits Forum and delayed planned talks with the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT). The party has also taken a tough stance on the importation of US meat containing ractopamine, while also lambasting China for increasing its military activity in and around the Taiwan Strait. Following
Taipei City Councilor Wang Hao (王浩) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) on Monday called for security improvements to the MRT, as fare evasion has increased more than 13-fold on the metropolitan railway system over the past five years. Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) has spoken out against fare evasion and other contraventions of MRT regulations, but since he took office in 2015 the number of contraventions has more than doubled, Wang said, adding that there were 537 cases in 2015 compared with 959 last year. A video was posted to YouTube in June showing people how to evade paying a fare,
AN EXAMPLE: After attending a memorial service for Lee Teng-hui, Mori said the former president’s career reflected the importance of peace and democracy Using military force to resolve conflict is no longer workable in this new era, which requires peaceful discussion, former Japanese prime minister Yoshiro Mori said yesterday before leaving Taipei. Mori made the remarks at a news conference in front of the EVA Sky Jet Center at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport), after leading a delegation to attend the official memorial service for former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) in New Taipei City’s Tamsui District (淡水). This was Mori’s second trip to mourn Lee; his last was on Aug. 9. Although he walked with a crutch, Mori, 83, chose to stand right in front of
CONTROVERSY: NHIA Director-General Lee Po-chang said an outcry over overseas Taiwanese not paying premiums, but having coverage, is pushing rule amendments Rules changes are being considered that would force Taiwanese who permanently live abroad to pay National Health Insurance (NHI) premiums for the period they were overseas before they can re-enroll in the system, National Health Insurance Administration (NHIA) Director-General Lee Po-chang (李伯璋) yesterday said. The case of a married Taiwanese couple who lived in the US for about 30 years, but returned to Taiwan in April and tested positive for COVID-19 has again sparked public debate over why Taiwanese living abroad are allowed to use NHI resources, — although the couple’s expenses were not covered by the NHI. An often cited example