Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) will have Taiwan at the “top of his agenda” during a state visit to the US later this month, former National Security Council deputy secretary-general Parris Chang (張旭成) told a Washington conference on Tuesday.
Chang said that Xi had been “discredited” by China’s recent economic crisis and that he needed a “big win” in Washington to regain face and restore his leadership authority at home.
“For this reason, he is going to press US President Barack Obama hard on the Taiwan issue,” Chang said. “He will pressure Obama to terminate arms sales to Taiwan.”
According to Chang, Xi will also ask Obama to work with China to keep the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) in power, to stop any moves toward independence and force Taiwan to accept China’s cross-strait policies.
A recent conference, “Xi Jinping in Washington: The Taiwan Factor,” organized by the Hudson Institute, featured presentations by Hudson senior fellow Seth Cropsey and Project 2049 research fellow Ian Easton.
Chang distributed a list of nine recommendations he is making to the White House.
He said the Obama administration must abandon its policy of “benign neglect” toward Taiwan and tell Xi that the US staunchly supports Taiwan’s democracy and security.
The US Congress, he said, should consider a resolution authorizing the US government to defend Taiwan and help the nation with advanced fighter jets, asymmetrical defense systems, such as submarines, and improved missile technology.
Chang also said Washington should support Taiwan’s entry into the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal and remove “outdated” restrictions and obstacles to cooperation.
Cropsey said that Taiwan had been subjected to scores of “mean-spirited and bullying efforts” by China.
“Xi needs to take something positive away from his state visit to Washington,” Cropsey said.
He said the US should help Taiwan “in every possible way” with the development of a modern submarine force and should ensure that Taiwan is part of TPP.
Cropsey, who once served as US deputy undersecretary of the US Navy, said that Washington should declare its “absolute commitment” to Taiwan’s security and that Obama should declare publicly that Taiwan was strategically important for all of Asia.
Easton said that as a result of China’s moves in the South China Sea, the Pentagon was not thinking about Taiwan as much as it did 10 years ago, even though the threat to Taiwan had increased “at a remarkable pace.”
He said that the main motivation behind China’s military build-up was the possible invasion of Taiwan.
Easton said that the quality of Taiwan’s military was still sufficient to hold off an invasion, but this might not always be the case.
Hudson senior fellow Michael Pillsbury, who chaired the event, said there was a need to remove many of the restrictions that are now placed on Taiwan-US relations, including rules that stop the president visiting Washington and limits on senior US government and military officials from visiting Taiwan.
Closing the conference, Chang said that his greatest concern was that the Obama administration had not made up its mind if China was a friend or foe.