Academic slams US' shaky policy

NORMALIZATION: The US' cross-strait policy is undermining Taiwan's nationhood, while Japan's is more mature, panelists said at an exchange forum

By Max Hirsch  /  STAFF REPORTER

Sun, Sep 10, 2006 - Page 3

The US is preventing Taiwan from becoming a full-fledged nation, according to a panelist at an academic forum in Taipei yesterday.

Lin Cheng-yi (林正義), a researcher from the Institute of European and American Studies at Academia Sinica, said that a lack of support and pressure from the US was a major obstacle in Taiwan's normalization as a country.

"The Bush administration has gone from restraining just China to restraining both China and the government of Taiwan," Lin said.

While US policy on the Taiwan Strait was unsteady, Japan's approach to cross-strait affairs was "mature and stable," he added.

Lin made the remarks at a Taiwan-Japan academic exchange conference hosted by the Association of East-Asian Relations (AEAR), a quasi-official organization that facilitates exchanges with Japan in the absence of diplomatic ties. Academics from Taiwan and Japan gathered at the venue to present papers on Taiwan-Japan relations and security issues in the Asia-Pacific region.

Chen Wen-hsien (陳文賢), a professor of Taiwanese history at National Chengchi University, told the forum that there was a big gap between US President George W. Bush's pledge to safeguard Taiwan and actual support and protection.

"The US' lack of support hurts US interests in the region," Chen said, without elaborating.

He said that Taiwan's political development was unique in that the country democratized before normalizing as a nation first, whereas most democracies first came of age as nations before fully democratizing.

Amako Satoshi, a Japanese professor in the Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies at Waseda University in Tokyo, said that China's military was growing exponentially, and posed a substantial threat to Taiwan.

"It is widely hoped that Taiwan can build up its military [in response]," Satoshi said, adding that Taiwan should cooperate with the US on security issues.

In an interview with the Taipei Times, Lin denied reports that Taiwan wasn't taking its defense seriously.

"Taiwan is increasing its defense budget from 2.5 percent of its GDP to 2.8 percent," Lin said, adding that its latest initiative to buy F-16 jet fighters from the US demonstrated its resolve to strengthen its military.