Wed, Mar 30, 2016 - Page 3 News List

‘Very slight’ chance of China using force on Taiwan: analyst

By William Lowther  /  Staff reporter in WASHINGTON

The chance of China using military force to seek unification with Taiwan in the near to medium term is “very slight,” a former senior US official said.

However, Beijing might resort to “strong-arm tactics” against the incoming government of president-elect Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), said Jeffrey Bader, a Brookings Institution senior fellow and former US National Security Council senior director for Asian affairs in the administration of US President Barack Obama.

In a new academic paper outlining a framework for future US policy toward China, Bader said that as a result of increasing geopolitical tensions in Asia, the next US president would need to adapt and protect the liberal international order as a means of continuing to provide stability and prosperity.

Bader, an adviser to US Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton, said the White House should develop a strategy that encourages cooperation, not competition, among willing powers and, if necessary, “contain or constrain actors seeking to undermine those goals.”

“Serious people understand that the manner in which the US deals with China will be a critical, if not the critical, overseas challenge of the US in the 21st century,” he said.

Bader said that China is ruled by the Chinese Communist Party, which is resistant to political liberalization at home and wedded to nationalist rhetoric and behavior in dealing with its neighborhood, “enhancing the chances for rivalry with the US.”

For students of history who see conflict as the likely outcome when rising powers encounter dominant powers, “these are precursors of a dark future,” Bader said.

Bader added that on the security side, China’s record has been mixed, but on global issues it has not been a provocateur.

“The picture in East and Southeast Asia, however, is not so comforting,” he said.

China’s actions in the South China Sea, the East China Sea and regarding Taiwan and Hong Kong “keep the region on edge,” he added.

Bader said the US could adopt a Taiwan policy based on the maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait; the Three Joint Communiques and the Taiwan Relations Act; the “one China” policy; support for cross-strait dialogue and economic and other exchanges; and security assistance to Taiwan that reduces the risk of coercion.

He emphasized the importance of making clear to Beijing that the US interest in the ability of Taiwanese to live free from intimidation is unchanged, regardless of who governs in Taiwan.

At the same time, the US should respect the special sensitivity of the Taiwan issue to China by refraining from bringing Taiwan into broader regional security arrangements, he added.

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