Taiwan should push changes in US Taiwan policy: ex-AIT head

03-Dec-2016 Intellasia | CNA | 6:00 AM Print This Post

Taiwan and its friends in the United States should help the new US administration improve its knowledge of Taiwan’s geo-strategic importance to any US policy toward Asia and exercise greater care in enunciating the US position toward Taiwan, former American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) director William Stanton said in an article published Wednesday.

In the article titled “What Should US Policy Toward Taiwan Be Under the Trump Administration?” Stanton said that Taiwan should take advantage of the election of Donald Trump, who he called a new and very unorthodox US president, to help the US bring change to its policy toward Taiwan.

Stanton said in the article, published by the Washington-based Taiwan-affairs think tank Global Taiwan Institute (GTI), that what troubles him most is Trump’s lack of attention to Asia, while his candidates for national security advisor and Central Intelligence Agency director appear to have no experience or interest in Asia. This continues the long tradition of US presidents whose appointed foreign policy officials knew nothing about Asia, China, or Taiwan.

He said that Taiwan and its friends should make the Trump Administration more knowledgeable about Taiwan, a critical geo-strategic component of any US policy toward Asia.

Stanton also suggested that the new US government should enunciate its policy toward Taiwan by avoiding the frequent, misleading, shorthand references to the US “One-China policy,” which is usually misinterpreted to mean – much to the People’s Republic of China’s satisfaction – China’s sovereignty over Taiwan.

Instead, he said, the new US administration should – like China – simply repeat the carefully crafted language of the 1979 Communique: “The government of the United States of America acknowledges the Chinese position that there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China.”

It should also, however, reiterate key points from the July 1982 Six Assurances, which stipulate that the US will not alter its position about the sovereignty of Taiwan, which is that the question is one to be decided peacefully by the Chinese themselves, and will not pressure Taiwan to enter into negotiations with China, and that the US will not formally recognise Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan, he said.

The US government also needs to frequently repeat, as it never does, some of the actual language in the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), Stanton said.

He also said the Trump Administration should show greater openness and flexibility in allowing Taiwan’s representatives to meet with US officials on a more regular basis and at a higher level. Washington lawyers have created most of the self-imposed restrictions on official Taiwan travel and contact, in an overly zealous effort to show that Washington has indeed broken diplomatic relations with the Republic of China.

In addition, the Trump Administration should more aggressively pursue support for Taiwan’s participation in international organisations, Stanton said.

Furthermore, he said, the Trump Administration should re-visit former President Bill Clinton’s June 30, 1998 declaration in Shanghai that “we don’t believe that Taiwan should be a member of any organisation for which statehood is a requirement,” because this is clearly inconsistent with US law in the TRA.

The Trump Administration should also welcome negotiations with Taiwan on a bilateral free trade agreement and should reiterate and then act on the 1979 US commitments in the TRA to provide Taiwan with arms “to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability” and to further strengthen military cooperation with Taiwan and provide technical assistance to Taiwan’s indigenous weapons development programmes, especially those working to develop submarines and missiles, Stanton added.

In another GTI article, former AIT director Stephen Young suggested that the new US administration should continue providing defensive weapons to Taiwan and reaffirm the US commitment to the three joint communiques of 1972, 1978 and 1982, and to the “one China policy.”

Young also recommended that the new administration should send a Cabinet-level official to Taipei to review bilateral economic relations and employ existing mechanisms with the Taiwan-US Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) to keep the dialogue going on the range of bilateral trade issues of mutual concern.



Category: Taiwan

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