Fri, Jun 12, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Cross-strait ties critical for US: former official

By William Lowther  /  Staff reporter in WASHINGTON

Future US-Taiwan relations would be “conditioned in significant measure” by the way Taipei adopts constructive and effective approaches to cross-strait relations, a former senior US Department of State official said.

“Given the potential impact of developments in cross-strait ties on US national interests, no one should doubt that this is an issue to which Washington will attach great importance,” Stimson Center East Asia program director Alan Romberg said.

In a long academic paper published this week by the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, Romberg said that during her Washington visit earlier this month, Democratic Progressive Party Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) had avoided language that would “trigger rejection” from Beijing.

“Most observers believe that unless something catastrophic derails Tsai’s campaign, even strong PRC [People’s Republic of China] statements about the negative consequences of Tsai’s failure to embrace a ‘one China’ position may not be enough to upset what seems like an inevitable DPP victory,” Romberg said.

He said that unlike the impression many people had during the 2012 Taiwan presidential election, the US is taking a studiously neutral position on next year’s contest.

Romberg, who served 27 years in the State Department, said Washington would focus on the need for both China and Taiwan to adopt policies characterized by restraint and flexibility to carry on constructive cross-strait dialogue and maintain the “current low level of tension.”

“Those in the mainland who distrust Tsai Ing-wen and would have the US oppose the DPP or instruct the DPP what policies to adopt will be disappointed,” he said.

Romberg said that Beijing harbored “deep suspicions” about Tsai’s ambitions regarding Taiwan independence.

He said Beijing says that she will say one thing during the campaign and move in a different direction once elected.

“Given the nuances evident in Beijing’s statements, as well as the urgency and severity of the myriad of other challenges facing the PRC leadership, one should remain alert to the possibility that the Mainland might limit its reaction if Tsai continues to adopt positions that, while perhaps ambiguous, could be interpreted as not inconsistent with one China,” Romberg said.

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