China might be “ramping up” coercive and negative measures against Taiwan, former US assistant secretary of state for East Asia Kurt Campbell said on Tuesday said.
Speaking at a Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) discussion on US-China relations, he said Taiwan was one of the hardest issues that Washington and Beijing had to deal with.
The discussion, moderated by CBS newsman Bob Schieffer, focused on US-China relations following the summit between US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) last month.
Campbell indicated he would have liked to see more attention being paid to Taiwan at the summit.
“One of the great achievements, ironically, despite all the tension between the United States and China, is the maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” he said.
Campbell said this was the case even though “it has been one of the hardest issues that the two countries have had to deal with.”
“Neither country can acknowledge that it is extremely successful, but it has been,” he said.
“We are coming into a very different period in Taiwan and I would have liked the United States to underscore that we have a strong commitment to the preservation of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” he said. “Some kind of coercive, negative measures again are ramping up in China because they anticipate a potential change of government in Taiwan.”
Nevertheless, he said that “overall” the Obama-Xi summit was generally positive.
“This was one of those summits that will be judged not by what happens in the meeting itself, but by subsequent activities,” he said.
Campbell asked if the US would be able to sustain the same high level of engagement after the summit.
“Did we brief our allies and bring them into some of these discussions? Did we embed our China strategy in the larger regional framework? Only time will tell,” he said.
He said that Chinese friends spent “an inordinate amount of time” talking about the historical alliance between the US and China against the “marauding Japanese of the 1930s and 1940s.”
While he understood the historical aspects, it tended to “gloss over” 70 years of Japan engaging China and “not firing a shot in anger.”
Campbell said it would be “disastrous” if the US Congress failed to approve the just-negotiated Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement.
Former CIA official and now senior adviser to CSIS Christopher Johnson said that while the TPP was about economics and trade, it was also “a highly geostrategic document as well.”
“It is such an important statement of our credibility and it is what the Asians want to see,” Johnson said. “We are not just a military power, but we are in the game economically.
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