The relationship between the US and Taiwan has deteriorated dangerously in recent years and both sides must take a wide range of steps to ensure Taiwan's security and "break the negative cycle," a joint study by a conservative think tank and an international consulting company in Washington said in a study released on Friday.
The study, sponsored by Armitage International and the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), takes the administration of US President George W. Bush to task for allowing US-Taiwan relations to slip, creating potential security perils for both countries.
Such criticism is especially pointed because the two lead authors of the study, Randall Schriver of Armitage and Dan Blumenthal of AEI, are former senior Taiwan affairs officials: Schriver was deputy assistant secretary of state, while Blumenthal was a policy official with the Pentagon's office of international security.
Both are known to be important supporters of Taiwan in the US capital.
During a presentation of the study's report, Schriver said that several members of the "Taiwan Policy Working Group" that prepared the report were potential members of the next US president's administration and would likely seek to implement the report's recommendations if appointed.
The report, Strengthening Freedom in Asia: A Twenty-First-Century Agenda for the US-Taiwan Partnership, is one of the most comprehensive independent studies of US-Taiwan relations undertaken in Washington in recent years.
"Contemporary US-Taiwan relations suffer from neglect and bitter feelings at the highest level," the 24-page report says. "The United States and Taiwan currently share no common agenda, thus allowing the relationship to lurch from crisis to crisis."
"Washington's move backward in its relations with Taiwan are not only unworthy of a democratic friend, they are also dangerous," it says.
The report cites the Bush administration's preoccupation with Iraq, Iran and North Korea, which has increased US reliance on China's cooperation in international issues, giving Beijing an opening to drive a wedge between the US and Taiwan and prompting the US to lean on Taipei not to do anything that Beijing views as provocative.
"A US-Taiwan common agenda is needed now more than ever ... Beijing is using diplomatic isolation and the threat of military force to pressure Taiwan into an unfavorable settlement, and Taiwan is reacting by forcing intractable disputes to the front of the debate. The United States has been reacting by trying to punish or pressure Taiwan to stand down at the expense of its own long-term interests. This dynamic is not sustainable," the report says.
The authors call on the US to relax the restrictions on high-level bilateral visits and communications in the political and military spheres and allow both countries' presidents to speak directly to each other.
They also call for more US arms sales to Taiwan and greater interoperability between the US and Taiwanese militaries to help combat a Chinese military action against Taiwan.
Citing the US refusal to sell advanced F-16 fighters to Taiwan, the report says: "Washington has thus become culpable in an eroding military balance across the Strait, sacrificing long-term interests to short-term emotion."
Other recommendations include a free trade agreement between the two, more US arms sales to Taiwan focusing on better homeland defense cooperation, anti-submarine warfare, air and missile defense and disaster and humanitarian aid coordination.
The report urges Taiwan to boost defense spending, implement economic reforms including the opening of investment opportunities for Chinese and other foreign firms, promote Taiwanese industries' technological and market advances in international economic relationships, export its democratic model to the rest of the world and use its public health expertise more effectively on the global scene.
Taiwan should also improve the quality of its official congressional relations staff in Washington, in view of ebbing US congressional support for Taiwan in recent years because of changes to new congressional leaders and staffers with "diminished knowledge" about Taiwan and China.
The report also wants Taiwan to create a cadre of defense experts in the Legislative Yuan and boost the professionalism of the Taiwan military.
The report bemoans China's greater clout with Washington in recent years over Taiwan policy.
"Washington must begin [improving US-Taiwan ties] by ending PRC [People's Republic of China] expectations that it can deliver Taiwan," it says.
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