KMT overly optimistic on cross-strait ties: admiral

By Charles Snyder  /  STAFF REPORTER , WASHINGTON

Fri, May 30, 2008 - Page 3

The commander of US forces in the Pacific expressed concern on Wednesday that the new Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) administration may be overly optimistic in its willingness to expand cooperation with China. Admiral Timothy Keating, however, welcomed the easing of tensions across the Taiwan Strait that Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) presidential victory heralded.

Speaking at a press conference in Washington, Keating cautioned that the improvement in cross-strait relations, epitomized by the current visit to Beijing of KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄), may be a case of the KMT viewing its opening to Beijing through “rose-colored glasses,” hinting that the KMT may be overly optimistic if not naive.

Keating’s comments echo those in Washington who have cautioned against the “euphoria” that swept the nation after Ma’s election, with many believing it would bring a sudden new era of peace and stability in the Strait. Many observers noted that while Ma’s presidency and the return of the KMT would effect changes in Taiwan’s cross-strait policies, it would not immediately change Chinese policies or behavior, which has been hostile toward Taiwan.

Asked whether Wu’s meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) signals a change in the wind in China’s attitude toward Taiwan, Keating answered affirmatively, but immediately added: “I have to temper that.”

“We’re cautiously optimistic about all this, but, you know, you-all expect us to be a little bit conservative and reserved,” he said.

“You want us to be prepared in case what we’re seeing is a little bit rose-colored … tinted through rose-colored glasses,” he said.

Nevertheless, “we are encouraged by the dialogue between the new government in Taiwan and the current government of the People’s Republic of China,” he said.

Despite the fact that Wu is a party representative, rather than a government official, Keating said of Wu’s Beijing trip: “We’re encouraged by [a] Taiwan leader’s presence in China to offer assistance and relief aid to the [Chinese] earthquake victims. All of these are positive signs, in our view.”

The press conference was held for Keating to present the role of the US in offering relief to the victims of the earthquake in China and US attempts to help victims of the devastating cyclone in Myanmar.