Sat, Jun 08, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Ex-AIT chair says Taiwanese must decide fate

VIEW ON TRADE:Richard Bush said US-China issues are because of a difference of interests between a ‘reviving China and a status quo US’ in the same space

Staff writer, with CNA

Former American Institute in Taiwan chairman Richard Bush speaks at a Taipei Forum Foundation event at the Chang Yung-fa Foundation in Taipei on Wednesday.

Photo: CNA

Taiwan’s future should be decided by its people and its leaders should remind China of that if necessary, former American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) chairman Richard Bush said yesterday in a POP Radio interview in Taipei.

Taiwanese have shown no interest in the “one country, two systems” formula that Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) proposed in January, Bush said.

Neither Xi’s time in office nor the 20th anniversary of the National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party in 2022 should be relevant to a decision by Taiwanese regarding the “one country, two systems” formula, Bush said.

“Fundamentally, there’s nothing about an anniversary or milestone that should govern the timing of what the Taiwan people decide about unification,” he said.

The effects of unification would be enduring, so Taiwanese should decide only when they are ready, he said.

“If Beijing tries to pressure Taiwan into making a decision in 2021 or 2022, Taiwan’s leaders should remind Beijing that it’s up to the mainland to convince the Taiwanese people of the merits of its proposal,” Bush said.

China’s conditions for participation in discussions on a plan for Taiwan seem to give Beijing officials the sole right to decide who should be at the table, he said.

The people in the pan-green camp should not be excluded, Bush said.

On the issue of the tensions between the US and China, Bush said that he does not see it as a clash of civilizations, but rather as a difference of interests between a “reviving China and a status quo US” in the same geographical space.

“China now has abilities that it did not before,” he said. “China is projecting its military power into the first island chain, where the US has dominated for decades, and this produces frictions.”

Even if China became democratic, “it might pursue the same interests versus the US that the Communist Party of China is pursuing today,” he said.

Regarding trade issues, Bush said that US companies, many of which used to be strong supporters of US-China relations, now believe that trade and technological cooperation with China is no longer mutually beneficial, so they want Washington to press Beijing so the playing field could be leveled.

As a result, Washington’s views toward Beijing have become more negative, dovish politicians have become a little hawkish and hawkish politicians have become more hawkish, he said.

Asked to comment on the Hong Kong Government’s proposed amendment of the territory’s Fugitive Offenders Ordinance, Bush said that it is an indication that Beijing is working hard to restrict the political freedoms of Hong Kongers and undermine the rule of law.

This is a significant change compared with the situation prior to 2016, when Beijing showed respect for the rule of law and the civil rights of Hong Kongers, he said.

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