US President Donald Trump should urge Beijing to deal directly with Taiwan in an effort to improve cross-strait relations, during his upcoming visit to China next week, a former US assistant secretary of state said during a forum on Trump’s visit to Asia on Thursday.
Speaking at a forum at the Woodrow Wilson Center, Kurt Campbell, former assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs during then-US president Barack Obama’s administration, said “it is incumbent on Americans to try to make clear to Beijing to take advantage of this opportunity,” in a reference to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) desire for better cross-strait ties.
Campbell praised Tsai for being the “picture of a predictable, stable, responsible leader in Asia,” who has said all the right things and is consistent in wanting a better relationship with China, adding that the US should ask Beijing to take advantage of this olive branch.
He said that beneath the surface, “there is a lot of positive interaction between the United States and Taiwan, mostly on the security side.”
There is also congressional support for maintaining the framework for the relationship as laid out in the Taiwan Relations Act, Campbell added.
Heritage Foundation’s Asian Studies Center director Walter Lohman made similar remarks.
“There are certain structural advantages that the Taiwanese have in Washington,” Lohman said, pointing to the US Congress as an important check-and-balance that would prevent any president from making a radical decision on policies relating to Taiwan.
Campbell said he hoped Trump would refrain from uttering any language that suggests Taiwan was a bargaining chip in US dealings with China, because it is not.
Trump is scheduled to visit China from Wednesday to Friday as part of an official trip to Asia, which started yesterday and is to end on Nov. 13.
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