While applauding the cross-strait rapprochement of recent years under President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) administration, a former US official yesterday reminded Taiwan that its best strategic interests lie in deeper economic relationships with other countries in Asia.
“You have done a remarkable job in China, but the degree of diversification is in your best strategic interests,” Kurt Campbell, who served as US assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs from 2009 to February this year, told at a luncheon in Taipei.
Whoever is in power or in the opposition, it is important for them to recognize that it is in the interests of Taiwan to have a deeper economic relationship with other countries in Asia, he said.
Campbell was answering a question from Joanne Chang (裘兆琳), a research fellow at Academia Sinica’s Institute of European and American Studies, who asked what Taiwan needs to do to establish its readiness to meet the standards of the emerging US-led Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) framework.
The TPP offers enormous possibilities for a number of countries in the region, but “there has to be political ambition, and that has to extend beyond one political polity” for a country to join the TPP, he said.
“Every country I go to, whether is Indonesia, or Thailand, or the Philippines, they all say the same thing: I would like to join the TPP. Can you give us a special dispensation, so that we can get in like a junior membership or something? It’s not gonna be possible,” he said.
As an example, Campbell said the steps taken by Vietnam to liberalize its economy in just a year and a half were recognition of its desire to play on a global stage.
He recalled his experience in negotiating over trade barriers hampering the resumption of the US-Taiwan Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA).
“One of the hardest I have to deal with in the last couple of years is TIFA. It’s really hard, really, really hard,” Campbell said.
In response to a question about the role of China in US arms sales to Taiwan, Campbell said the US and Taiwan need to engage in “more unofficial dialogues and integration.”
“I can’t disagree with you that the nature of both the challenges we face were remarkable investments that China has made over periods of time and some limitations in Taiwan’s defense budget made these issues critical,” he said.
It was the first visit to Taiwan since Campbell, an architect of US President Barack Obama’s pivot or rebalancing toward the Asia policy, left the office. He is now chairman and chief executive of The Asia Group, LLC, and on the board of the Center for a New American Security.
At the luncheon at a forum on US-Taiwan-Japan Trilateral Security Dialogue, a track 1.5 channel among the three countries, Campbell delivered a speech on security dynamics in Northeast Asia and the implications for Taiwan.
Over the last couple of years, the US-China relationship has been relatively stable, the cross-strait relationship is probably at an all-time high and the unofficial relationship between Washington and Taipei is one of the strongest in decades, Campbell said.
“The three-way relationship has a degree of stability. That is unique over the course of 30 years. Taiwan deserves remarkable credits for managing these complex and myriad relationships going forward,” he added.
This story has been updated with addtional information since it was first published.
WHEELING AND DEALING? Hou You-yi, Ko Wen-je, Eric Chu and Ma Ying-jeou are under investigation for allegedly offering bribes for the other side to drop out of the race Taipei prosecutors have started an investigation into allegations that four top politicians involved in attempts to form a “blue-white” presidential ticket have contravened election regulations. Listed as defendants are Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate and New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜), KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫), former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the KMT and Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Chairman and presidential candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲). The case stemmed from judicial complaints filed last month with the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office alleging that the KMT (blue) and the TPP (white) had engaged in bribery by offering money or other enticements
COUNTER DISINFORMATION: More engagement and media literacy are needed to push back against misinformation and claims that the US is an unreliable partner, the AIT director said The US is “confident” that Taiwan does not face an imminent threat of a Chinese invasion, American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director Sandra Oudkirk told a US public radio show, adding that Washington remains committed to defensively arming the nation. She made the comment during an interview on All Things Considered, broadcast on Friday on US-based National Public Radio. “There is an important distinction between making plans and training troops, and getting ready to do something,” Oudkirk said, on whether she thinks Beijing plans to attack Taiwan in the near future. Chinese officials have told Washington that “their preference is for peaceful reunification,
EXPOSED: Some Taipei wardens reported joining the trips out of peer pressure, while others said they were relieved it was made public so they could refuse, a city councilor said Nearly 30 percent of Taipei borough wardens have joined group tours to China that were partially funded by the Chinese government, leading prosecutors probing potential Chinese interference in January’s elections to question local officials, an investigation showed. Democratic Progressive Party Taipei City councilors Chien Shu-pei (簡舒培) and Chen E-jun (陳怡君) have reported cases of Taipei borough wardens inviting residents to join inexpensive privately organized group tours to China that were partially funded by the Chinese government. The six-day trips reportedly cost NT$10,000 to NT$15,000, the councilors said. An investigation by the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) showed that nearly 30 percent
ELIGIBLE FOR JANUARY: All presidential candidates and their running mates meet the requirements to run for office, and none hold dual citizenship, the CEC said Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Legislator and vice presidential candidate Cynthia Wu (吳欣盈) is working with the Central Election Commission (CEC) to resolve issues with her financial disclosure statement, a spokesman for the candidate said yesterday, after the commission published the statements of all three presidential candidates and their running mates, while confirming their eligibility to run in the Jan. 13 election. Wu’s office spokesman, Chen Yu-cheng (陳宥丞), said the candidate encountered unforeseen difficulties disclosing her husband’s finances due to being suddenly thrust into the campaign. She is also the first vice presidential nominee to have a foreign spouse, complicating the reporting of