President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) calls for an extradition agreement and visa waivers for Taiwanese tourists visiting the US are unlikely to bear fruit anytime soon.
Sources in Washington told the Taipei Times: “It’s just not going to happen.”
The major reason is that China is opposed to them, now more than ever. And with North Korea again playing its nuclear card, Washington is anxious for China’s cooperation and will be very reluctant to upset Beijing, sources said.
Ma raised the extradition and visa issues earlier this week when he stopped over in Los Angeles on his way to visit three Central American countries.
During talks with American Institute in Taiwan Chairman Raymond Burghardt, he stressed the importance of the two issues and asked for early agreements.
But sources said that even though the White House might be sympathetic, it would most likely bow to Chinese pressure.
“The Chinese feel strongly about these issues,” the sources said.
They added: “No Chinese province has an extradition agreement or visa waiver status and granting that to Taiwan would — in Chinese eyes — make Taiwan look like an independent country. And of course that is the last thing that Beijing wants.”
The Obama administration’s sensitivity toward Beijing was stressed this week by political consultant Michael Richardson, writing on the Boston-based Web site www.examiner.com.
He said that Stephen Bosworth, dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, had been appointed as special US envoy to North Korea.
Richardson says that Special Envoy Bosworth has written and lectured about both North Korea and Taiwan and “is candid about the need for the United States to work with China and the possible consequences to Taiwan.”
In an academic paper titled Dancing with Giants, Bosworth says: “In terms of American foreign policy, some things have not changed in East Asia, including the two most important items.
One is the continuing problem of Taiwan, the Taiwan Straits and the future of China’s relationship with that wandering province.
The second is the problem of North Korea, where we have what is in effect our third nuclear crisis in the last decade and a half.”
Bosworth continues: “With Taiwan, of course, the problem is that for the last couple of decades we have always hoped and assumed that the problem would cure itself, largely through economic integration.”
“The thinking held that as Taiwan’s economy became more and more tied intos mainland China, the prospect of conflict over the future of Taiwan would diminish. In some measure, I am still confident that is the case,” he said.
“But there is no question that the emergence of democracy in Taiwan has significantly complicated this issue. Not surprisingly, Taiwan believes that it should have the same chance to pursue its destiny that other countries have had,” he said.
Richardson said: “As Bosworth begins his diplomatic effort to isolate North Korea and put pressure on them to disarm he will be looking for help from China — help that may only come at the expense of Taiwan.”
Meanwhile, Forbes magazine said that “if it weren’t for Beijing, Pyongyang would be impotent.”
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