Wed, Nov 11, 2015 - Page 3 News List

MA-XI MEETING: Ex-US ambassador aims to reassure on Ma-Xi meeting

By William Lowther  /  Staff reporter in Washington

A former US ambassador to China said that while some people thought the meeting between President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) was an effort to “woo” Taiwan away from the US, in his opinion this was a misreading of the situation and that China was also not trying to influence Taiwan’s elections.

“They wanted to demonstrate what was possible if the cross-strait relationship was based on the ‘92 consensuses’ [sic] and at its core the ‘one China’ approach,” former ambassador J. Stapleton Roy said at a Wilson Center conference held to discuss Saturday’s Ma-Xi meeting. “They are laying down the gauntlet for [Democratic Progressive Party presidential candidate] Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文),” he said.

Roy said that Tsai had campaigned on maintaining the “status quo,” but that China was now saying that the cross-strait relationship could only be maintained on the basis of the so-called “1992 consensus,” which Tsai has been unwilling to accept.

However, he said that Tsai had promised to maintain the “status quo” in a way that suggested she did not plan to depart from the framework that has already been established.

Roy said that the Ma-Xi meeting was a “calculated gamble” by both leaders to get their messages across without doing damage.

He said that Washington is “not panicked in any way” about Tsai’s prospects in the upcoming presidential elections.

Roy said that the US did not have any preference for one candidate over another and insisted that Washington would work with whoever emerged from the electoral process.

His remarks seem to contradict speculation in some quarters that the US Department of State would be “alarmed” if the DPP comes to power as expected.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫) was due to arrive in Los Angeles yesterday and is to be in Washington for three days of meetings with US officials starting today.

“I don’t think that Eric Chu is going to be treated any differently than Tsai Ing-wen when she visited,” said Roy, who is now an academic at the Wilson Center.

Chu is expected to hold closed-door meetings with of US National Security Council director for Asian affairs Daniel Kritenbrink and with US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia Affairs Daniel Russel.

He is scheduled to meet with politicians on Capitol Hill, with think tank academics and analysts including former American Institute in Taiwan director Richard Bush who is now at the Brookings Institution.

Roy said the US wanted to learn more about Chu and the visit would provide that opportunity.

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