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Cross-strait ties cannot be pursued with use of force: U.S. report

2016/04/10 18:39:00

Stephen M. Young, former director of the American Institute in Taiwan's Taipei Office.

New York, April 9 (CNA) The United States should continue to inform Beijing that cross-Taiwan Strait relations can only be pursued in the absence of threat or use of force, according to a report released by a U.S. non-profit policy organization.

While recent remarks by President-elect Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) indicated a desire to work constructively with China, some heightened tensions can be expected in the run-up to her May 20 inauguration, Stephen M. Young, a former director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), wrote in the report.

The report, titled "Building a Regional Order in East Asia: Community, Competition, Conflict," was released at the end of March by the New York-based National Committee on American Foreign Policy, an organization dedicated to the resolution of conflicts that threaten U.S. interests.

Young said it is possible that China's President Xi Jinping (習近平) will exert greater pressure on Taiwan in the coming months on the issue of reunification.

Any sharp rhetoric or actions toward Taiwan by China will become a security and political issue for the U.S. government, Young said.

"Washington must continue to speak plainly to Beijing about our long-term insistence that cross-Strait ties can only be pursued in the absence of the use or threat of force," Young said.

The U.S. should also continue to provide weapons of defense to Taiwan and respect Taiwan's strong democratic system, and the U.S. military should maintain its strong presence in the Asia-Pacific region, he wrote.

He suggested that the U.S. also caution China to adhere to peaceful means of pursuing cross-strait relations and caution Taiwan to avoid "pushing the envelope on sovereignty issues that could cross a red line with Beijing."

In his article, Young predicted that Tsai Ing-wen and her Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) would not be eagerly seeking closer ties with China "anytime soon." It remains to be seen whether Xi Jinping would reverse the current economic engagement between China and Taiwan, Young said.

In the report, Donald S. Zagoria, a senior vice president of the National Committee on American Foreign Policy, said the U.S. should let Beijing and Taipei know that its primary interest in cross-strait relations is "the maintenance of cross-strait peace and stability."

"We should push for the DPP and Beijing to reach an agreement that will respect the existing political framework for cross-strait relations built by Beijing and the Kuomintang over the past eight years," he wrote.

Noting that the DPP does not recognize the "1992 consensus," on which cross-strait relations have developed in recent years, Zagoria predicted that tensions across the Taiwan Strait will likely increase unless the DPP and China can work out a "new, mutually agreeable formula for cross-strait relations."

Meanwhile, on the issue of disputes in the South China Sea, Zagoria said the U.S. should "continue to press for a rules-based regime in East Asia and urge China and its neighbors to sign a code of conduct to regulate maritime activities."

Sun Zhe, a Columbia University professor, also said that a binding code of conduct on the South China Sea must be worked out and that China has to work with other countries on the issue.

Michael A. McDevitt, a retired admiral at the Center for Naval Analyses, suggested that U.S. policy makers press the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to conclude a code of conduct that can be presented to Beijing as a common ASEAN position.

(By Timothy Huang and Christie Chen)
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