Thu, Feb 14, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Plan to invite Tsai a ‘huge mistake’: former US official

Staff writer, with CNA

From left, Task Force on US-China Policy members Susan Shirk, Charlene Barshefsky, Melanie Hart and David Shamburgh announce the publication of the report Course Correction: Toward an Effective and Sustainable China Policy in Washington on Tuesday.

Photo: CNA

A proposal by US senators to invite President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to address a joint meeting of the US Congress would be a “huge mistake,” former US deputy assistant secretary of state Susan Shirk said on Tuesday.

Shirk, a research professor and chair at the 21st Century China Center at the University of California, San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy, said that the proposal would be wrong, as was a visit by former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) to his alma mater Cornell University in 1995.

“I don’t support it. I think that was a mistake then and that it would be a mistake now,” Shirk said after a news conference held by the Asia Society, a New York-headquartered think tank that tackles major policy challenges confronting the Asia-Pacific region.

Based on unofficial US-Taiwan relations, the US allows senior Taiwanese officials to transit through the US, but visits are not allowed, Shirk said.

Asked whether she is concerned about an unexpected move by US President Donald Trump, such as inviting Tsai to the US, Shirk said it would be highly irresponsible for Trump to use Taiwan as leverage in his dealings with China.

Trump is “quite ignorant of the history and what it takes to maintain stability on this very sensitive issue,” she said.

US Senator Cory Gardner, one of the lawmakers behind the proposal, on Tuesday met with a delegation led by former Chinese ambassador to the US Zhou Wenzhong (周文重).

Gardener said in a statement following the meeting that he told the delegation that Beijing’s hostile actions toward Taipei are counterproductive, and the US Congress would continue to advocate on behalf of Taiwan and Taiwanese as guided by US law, including the Taiwan Relations Act, the Taiwan Travel Act and the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act.

His proposal to invite Tsai is consistent with US law, Gardner said, adding that he hopes an invitation will be issued soon.

Gardner and US senators Marco Rubio, Tom Cotton, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz on Friday last week sent a joint letter to US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, urging her to invite Tsai to address a joint session of the US Congress.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Andrew Lee (李憲章) expressed gratitude for the letter, but said Tsai has no plans to visit Washington.

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