Mon, Aug 14, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Tsai praised as ‘careful’ at US academic conference

Staff writer, with CNA, WASHINGTON

US academics on Friday expressed positive views about President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) approach toward China during a conference in Washington, with some saying she has been dealing with Beijing in a careful and relatively conservative manner.

Tsai has been “an extraordinarily careful practitioner of statecraft,” said Patrick Cronin, a senior advisor and senior director of the Asia-Pacific security program at the Center for a New American Security, at the conference titled “The Future of US-Taiwan Relations in New Administrations.”

Every time Tsai tries to come up with a new framework for ties with China other than the so-called “1992 consensus” or proposes a new type of interaction across the Taiwan Strait, the Chinese government dismisses it, Cronin said.

That is because China does not want Tsai to “regain some new leverage” on cross-strait issues and is intent on squeezing her space even further, including by stealing Taiwan’s diplomatic allies and cutting back on the number of Chinese tourists visiting Taiwan, he said.

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

China has attempted through this coercion to unilaterally write rules on cross-strait relations, which is similar to what has been happening in the South China Sea, and the answer for Tsai and for US President Donald Trump in each situation should be to say “no,” Cronin said.

Scott Kastner, an associate professor at the University of Maryland, said cross-strait relations are relatively stable despite the recent uptick in tensions, because the scenarios in which China might use a militarily coercive approach to Taiwan are relatively unlikely to happen in part due to Tsai’s approach.

A scenario in which Beijing would use military coercion to push Taiwan to adopt more accommodating policies is unlikely, because it is “generally recognized that it’s easier to make coercive threats to deter changes to the status quo than it is to use coercive threats to try to compel changes to the status quo,” he said.

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