A proposal by a group of US senators to invite President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to address a joint session of the US Congress is flawed, because it would not be conducive to US-China relations and would hurt Taiwan, former American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) chairman Richard Bush said.
“The first flaw in the proposal is that it is contrary to a fundamental principle of US relations with China,” Bush, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and director of its Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies, wrote in an article posted on the institution’s Web site on Friday.
When the US established diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1979, it pledged that it would carry out substantive relations with Taiwan and its government on an unofficial basis, Bush wrote.
“If the president of Taiwan were to speak to a joint meeting of Congress, any US claim that its relations with Taiwan were unofficial would ring completely hollow,” he wrote, adding: “Although I cannot predict exactly what Beijing would do in response, a radical downgrading of the relationship would be likely.”
“American multinationals that rely on China as a market or production platform would be vulnerable to retaliation, with attendant effects on jobs and profits,” Bush wrote.
The second flaw is Taiwan would suffer, because although the initiative was started in the US, Beijing would use it as an opportunity to pressure and squeeze Taiwan even more than it is already doing, he wrote.
“It would likely find ways to get the small number of countries that still maintain diplomatic relations with Taipei to switch to the PRC,” Bush wrote.
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s drills targeting Taiwan would intensify and China’s efforts to interfere in Taiwan’s domestic politics would increase, he added.
“So, a gesture that senators intended to help Taiwan would only hurt it,” Bush wrote.
The third flaw is the initiative’s disregard for Taiwan’s view, he wrote.
“Tsai is responsible for the prosperity and safety of 23 million people. She understands that she must maintain some degree of balance between relations with the United States on the one hand and relations with China on the other,” Bush wrote.
“Clearly, relations with China are not as good as she might like them to be, but I believe she would not wish to risk a further, serious deterioration in relations with Beijing unless it brought an extraordinary benefit,” Bush added.
He suggested that the US continue to find ways to improve relations with Taiwan, for example by improving economic relations and helping Taiwan enhance deterrence against China.
A group of US senators on Thursday wrote a joint letter to US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, calling on her to invite Tsai to address a joint session of the US Congress.
The letter was signed by US Senators Cory Gardner, Marco Rubio, Tom Cotton, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its gratitude to the senators, but said that there are no plans for Tsai to visit Washington.
In 1943, former first lady Soong Mayling (宋美齡) became the first and only Republic of China citizen to address a joint session of the US Congress.
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