Sun, May 06, 2018 - Page 3 News List

China’s actions alarming: AIT head

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

American Institute in Taiwan Chairman James Moriarty speaks in Washington on Oct. 13 last year.

Photo: CNA

Beijing’s increased pressure on Taiwan has raised concerns among observers in the US, which could be the reason for the US Congress’ unanimous passage of the Taiwan Travel Act in March, American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Chairman James Moriarty said.

At a time of impressive growth in Taiwan-US ties, development in cross-strait relations over the past year has told a much less positive story, Moriarty said at a seminar, titled “The US and Taiwan: An Enduring Partnership,” at Stanford University on Thursday.

“Observers in the US, both outside and inside the government, including a broad spectrum of members of Congress, are deeply troubled that China has increased pressure on Taiwan,” Moriarty said. “Recent congressional actions on Taiwan, like the unanimous passage of the Taiwan Travel Act, reflect those concerns.”

The act, which encourages high-level visits by US and Taiwanese officials, was signed into law by US President Donald Trump on March 16, following its unanimous passage in the US House of Representatives on Jan. 9 and the US Senate on Feb. 28.

Citing some examples, Moriarty said that Washington is concerned by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s increased activities around Taiwan, its lack of transparency about its growing military capabilities and strategic intentions, and its continuing unwillingness to renounce the use of force against Taiwan.

Equally alarming is Beijing’s unilateral launch of northbound flights on the M503 route in January, as well as the Dominican Republic’s sudden switch of diplomatic recognition to China this week, which suggested that the “diplomatic truce” between the two sides no longer exists, Moriarty said.

Turning to China’s growing efforts to diminish Taiwan’s international presence, Moriarty said that the WHO’s decision last year not to invite Taiwan to participate in its annual World Health Assembly (WHA) as an observer was “deeply troubling.”

“This and other attempts by China to exclude Taiwan from international organizations prevents the international community from benefiting from Taiwan’s expertise, harms cross-strait relations and runs counter to Beijing’s own professed goal of winning the support of the people of Taiwan,” he said.

Taiwan had participated in the WHA as an observer between 2009 and 2016, but it failed to receive an invitation last year due to Chinese pressure.

According to the student-run Stanford Daily, Moriarty also said that China’s crackdown on companies and Web sites that “improperly” characterize Taiwan was “bullying and childish,” and “does not accomplish anything.”

Despite reiterating the US’ commitment to adhere to the Taiwan Relations Act, under which Washington is required to provide Taiwan with defensive weaponry, Moriarty called on Taiwan to step up efforts to strengthen its security.

“That commitment alone will not secure Taiwan against the backdrop of an increasingly complex cross-strait environment,” he said. “Taiwan must do its part to invest in capabilities that deter aggression and help Taiwan mount an effective defense should deterrence fail.”

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