Former American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) chairman Richard Bush has drawn up a list of recommendations of “dos and don’ts” on cross--strait relations for US President Donald Trump, including not to state as the position of the US government that Taiwan is part of China.
Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) are scheduled to meet in Florida on Thursday and Friday next week. It is widely expected that Taiwan would be one of the issues on the agenda.
Bush, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, made the recommendations in a report he said was “inspired by Trump,” who surprised the world by accepting a congratulatory call from President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in December last year, sparking a heated debate over what the US’ “one China” policy is about.
In the report titled “A One-China policy primer,” Bush explained how the US’ “one China” policy came about and “what it means and what it doesn’t mean,” adding that he “remained worried” about Trump’s approach toward China and cross-strait relations.
“I for one cannot rule out the possibility that [Trump] personally might choose to use Taiwan as such a point of leverage in negotiating with China, or being willing to make Taiwan-related ‘side payments’ to Beijing that would damage the island’s interests,” Bush wrote.
He listed 12 recommendations of “dos and don’ts” for the Trump administration.
The “dos” include continuing to restate the “abiding interest” of the US in a resolution of the dispute that is peaceful and acceptable to the people of Taiwan; urging both Taipei and Beijing to conduct cross-strait relations with flexibility, patience, creativity, and restraint; emphasizing to Beijing that the principal obstacle to achieving its goal of unification is not US arms sales to Taiwan, but the opposition of the Taiwanese public to its unification formula; continuing to provide weaponry to Taiwan; continuing interactions with Taiwan’s defense establishment on how to strengthen deterrence; and consulting in advance with Taiwanese leaders on any changes in US policy toward Taiwan before making them.
Bush also advised the Trump administration against stating as the position of the US government that Taiwan is part of China and against using the phrase “one China principle,” which is Beijing’s policy, and instead continue using the US’ “our one China policy” as previous US administrations had done.
The US should not “take a position on the merits of one country, two systems as a substantive formula for resolving the Taiwan Strait dispute,” Bush added, while also warning against implementing changes for improving bilateral relations with Taiwan “in ways that create a public challenge to Beijing.”
This story has been corrected since it was first published.