Mon, Dec 17, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Ex-AIT director advises low profile for Taiwan

Staff writer, with CNA

Former American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) director Douglas Paal on Saturday advised Taiwan to remain inconspicuous as an “economic cold war” between the US and China looms.

“My policy recommendation is: Keep a low profile,” Paal said at a forum in Taipei organized by the Fair Winds Foundation.

Paal made the remark when asked by former premier and foundation chairman Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) what advice he would give Taiwan’s government and people if the US were to change its policy toward the nation as it enters a “new cold war” with China.

“One thing I learned from 40 years of watching Taiwan-China-US relations is that when the US and China are at odds, Taiwan often pays the price. When the US and China can work on their issues, Taiwan benefits,” said Paal, who is vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.

He said that under the circumstances, people from Washington are likely to approach Taiwan with requests to do things, but Taiwan should “judge carefully” before agreeing to such requests, because they could create more problems for Taiwan than it can afford.

His second piece of advice for Taiwan is to quickly negotiate a bilateral free-trade agreement with the US, because such a deal would benefit the economy and help Taiwanese companies to maintain their competitiveness, Paal said.

Commenting on the possibility of a full-fledged “new cold war,” he said it would be “unnecessary and costly” and the US might not win.

Paal also gave a keynote speech at the forum titled “The Beginning of a New Cold War? The Inevitable Confrontation between China and the US.”

In his speech, Paal said that if the US wants to pressure China, it should start by pushing China to follow through with its own 2013 economic reform program.

That year, Chinese leaders pledged to let markets play a decisive role in the economy, reducing the role of the state in it.

The US should push for those reforms, instead of trying to arrest Huawei’s chief financial officer, he added.

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