Sat, Jun 16, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Time to review US, China ties: ex-AIT chair

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Former American Institute in Taiwan chairman Richard Bush speaks to the media at a conference about Taiwanese transitional justice in Washington on April 25.

Photo: CNA

If Taiwan wishes to find a balance in its relationship with the US and China, it should consider whether to adjust its cross-strait policy or make economic concessions to the US, former American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) chairman Richard Bush said in an interview that was broadcast yesterday.

Bush, who served as AIT chairman from 1997 to 2002, said in an interview with POP Radio that Taiwan needs to address some serious questions amid shifts in the fundamental reality of cross-strait relations.

“First of all, it seems that China will no longer rely so much on conservative political forces within Taiwan to advance its interests. It seems that Chinese power to intimidate Taiwan is growing. If that is true, which I believe is true, should Taiwan adjust its mainland policy to something significantly different from before? If so, in what way?” Bush said.

The second question Taiwan should address, Bush said, is whether the country should make necessary concessions on market access to Washington, which is its second-largest trading partner and No.1 security partner, if it aspires to improve its economic relationship with the US.

Bush said the solution to the second question is not necessarily to relax import restrictions on US beef and pork.

“I think one of the ways Taiwan can help itself is [by deregulating] the financial services industry to increase investment from outside,” he said.

Another question facing Taiwanese leaders is whether they should work harder to create a consensus among themselves, Bush said, particularly in light of how the nation’s polarized political system has made it difficult to pass critical legislation.

Turning to the cross-strait stalemate, Bush said that while some have blamed the situation on President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) unwillingness to accept the so-called “1992 consensus,” it is his view that Tsai has addressed these issues, albeit in an ambiguous way.

“Ambiguity is often useful in managing differences and particularly in Chinese culture,” Bush said, adding that Tsai’s cautious and restrained cross-strait policies have actually won her praise from some US officials.

Since her inauguration in May 2016, Tsai has on several occasions said that she respects the fact that in 1992 a meeting occurred between both sides of the Taiwan Strait, but has not acknowledged the existence of a “1992 consensus.”

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

Bush said there was a window of opportunity to begin a cross-strait trust-building process after Tsai took office, but China was not willing to do so, presumably because it did not wish to coexist with the Tsai administration or legitimize her Democratic Progressive Party.

Bush also dismissed the possibility of Beijing replacing the “the one country, two systems” framework to make its ultimate unification agenda more appealing to Taiwanese.

Instead, Beijing would continue to pressure and squeeze Taiwan until it gets a leader who is more cooperative than Tsai or even former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the KMT, he said.

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