US seeks reduced cross-strait tensions

COMMITMENT::Kurt Campbell reiterated Washington’s support for Taiwan under the Taiwan Relations Act and for greater cross-strait dialogue and economic cooperation

By William Lowther  /  Staff Reporter in WASHINGTON

Sat, Apr 02, 2011 - Page 3

Washington is seeking to reduce “military tensions and deployments” between Taiwan and China, US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia Kurt Campbell told a congressional subcommittee on Thursday.

Campbell said the US “will continue to meet our responsibilities under the TRA [Taiwan Relations Act],” but he did not give details of what he meant by “deployments.”

Sources said it was a reference to ongoing talks with China aimed at cutting the number of missiles it has aimed at Taiwan.

“Related to our interactions with China is our consistent approach to Taiwan,” Campbell said in testimony before the US House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific.

“We are encouraged by the greater dialogue and economic cooperation between the mainland and Taiwan — as witnessed by the historic completion of the cross-strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement last year,” Campbell said.

“Our approach continues to be guided by our ‘one China’ policy based on the three joint communiques and the TRA. In the period ahead, we seek to encourage more dialogue and exchanges between the two sides,” he said.

Campbell said it was clear that the US’ success in the 21st century was “tied to the success of the dynamic Asia-Pacific region.”

“There is no question that the region’s influence is growing and holds the key to our shared future,” Campbell said. “Asian nations are vital to the life-blood of the global economy.”

Observers at the meeting said later that it was “significant” that Campbell made no further mention of Taiwan by name during his long testimony.

However, “we will continue to make clear our views on the principles of freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. Recent events in China, including the forced disappearances of rights lawyers and crackdowns on Chinese and foreign journalists, have only further increased our concerns about human rights,” Campbell said.

The administration of US President Barack Obama has developed a five-part framework for engagement in the Asia-Pacific, he said.

First, deepen and modernize alliances with Japan, South Korea, Australia, Thailand and the Philippines. Second, broaden engagement with Indonesia, Vietnam, Mongolia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia and “most notably” India. Third, develop a predictable, stable and comprehensive relationship with China. Fourth, engage and invest in the region’s “burgeoning multilateral architecture,” and fifth, pursue a confident and aggressive trade and economic strategy, Campbell said.

“Underpinning our strategy is a steadfast commitment to our belief in the universality of democracy and our respect for human rights,” he said. “The US commitment to these values defines the unique aspect of US relations with Asia-Pacific nations and is an intrinsic and indispensable aspect of our character as a nation.”

“It is one of the best and most important contributions that we can offer the region,” he said.

The freedom to speak one’s mind and to choose one’s leaders, the ability to access information and worship how one pleases, were the bases of stability, he said.

“The United States will continue to speak for those on the margins of society, encouraging countries in the region to respect the internationally recognized human rights of their people while undertaking policies to further liberalize and open their states,” Campbell said.