Fri, May 20, 2016 - Page 3 News List

TRANSITION: US urges flexibility on cross-strait ties

UNOFFICIAL:A senior official said that a US delegation would attend the inauguration of president-elect Tsai to reiterate the US’ commitment to relations with Taipei

By William Lowther  /  Staff reporter in WASHINGTON

As Taiwan prepares for the inauguration of president-elect Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), the US is once again calling for both Taipei and Beijing to show flexibility in their ongoing relationship.

“We have emphasized to parties on both sides of the Strait our interest in the maintenance of peace and stability,” US National Security Council Senior Director for Asian Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink said.

“Our hope is that both sides will continue to show flexibility going forward in the name of maintaining peace and stability,” he said during a Foreign Press Center briefing on US President Barack Obama’s upcoming trip to Vietnam and Japan.

He was asked whether a possible Chinese demand that Tsai recognize the so-called “1992 consensus” and the “one China” principle would affect the future of US-Taiwan and cross-strait relations.

The “1992 consensus,” a term former Mainland Affairs Council chairman Su Chi (蘇起) admitted making up in 2000, refers to a tacit understanding between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Chinese government that both sides of the Taiwan Strait acknowledge there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what “China” means.

“The United States continues to make clear to our friends in both Taipei and Beijing that we’re going to maintain our very consistent one China policy based on both the Three Joint Communiques and the Taiwan Relations Act,” Kritenbrink said.

“We are sending an unofficial delegation to the inauguration in Taipei,” he said. “The purpose of that unofficial delegation is to again emphasize our commitment to the importance of our unofficial relations with Taiwan, to congratulate the people of Taiwan on a successful democratic election and to underscore America’s interest in maintaining cross-strait peace and stability.”

US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel was asked at the briefing about a Taiwan connection to a Pentagon report released last week on China’s military power.

“What is the motivation behind the Pentagon’s statement against Taiwan independence, especially before Tsai Ing-wen’s inaugural speech? What message is the US trying to send to China?” he was asked.

Russel said the Pentagon report was an annual publication to provide an analysis update.

“There is no change to US policy and this is not a vehicle for telegraphing any potential change in our policy,” he said.

Earlier in the week, US Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications and Speechwriting Ben Rhodes said that Washington would not pressure Tsai regarding the content of her inaugural address.

“Her speech is for her to determine and so we certainly wouldn’t want to dictate terms for what we expect to see,” he told a seminar at Washington-based think tank Center for a New American Security.

Obama is to leave Washington tomorrow for his first visit to Vietnam. He is scheduled to conduct talks with Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang in Hanoi and travel to Ho Chi Minh City for talks with the youth movement, entrepreneurs and the business community.

Obama is then to fly to Japan for the G7 summit, arriving on Wednesday next week.

The summit in Ise-Shima is to start on Thursday and conclude early in the afternoon on Friday. Obama is to hold a bilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe before departing for Hiroshima.

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