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U.S. should urge Beijing to engage with Taiwan: former U.S. official

2017/11/03 17:41:31

Image taken from the Wilson Center's official website

Washington, Nov. 2 (CNA) U.S. President Donald Trump should urge Beijing to deal directly with Taiwan in an effort to improve cross-strait relations in his upcoming visit to China next week, a former U.S. assistant secretary of state noted during a forum on the president's visit to the Asia-Pacific on Thursday.

Speaking at the Woodrow Wilson Center forum, Kurt Campbell, former assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs in the Obama administration, said "it is incumbent on Americans to try to make clear to Beijing to take advantage of this opportunity," in a reference to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) desire for better cross-strait ties.

Campbell praised Tsai for being the "picture of a predictable, stable, responsible leader in Asia," who has said all the right things and is consistent in wanting a better relationship with China, adding that the U.S. should ask Beijing to take advantage of this olive branch.

The Asian politics expert said that beneath the surface "there is a lot of positive interaction between the United States and Taiwan, mostly on the security side."

There is also congressional support for maintaining the framework of the relationship as laid out in the Taiwan Relations Act, he continued.

This was a point that Walter Lohman, director of the Heritage Foundation's Asian Studies Center also echoed.

"There are certain structural advantages that the Taiwanese have in Washington," Lohman noted, pointing to Congress as an important check-and-balance that prevents any president from making a radical decision on policies relating to Taiwan.

Campbell said he hopes Trump will refrain from any kind of language that suggests Taiwan is a chip in U.S. dealings with China because it is not.

Trump is scheduled to visit China Nov. 8-10 during his official trip to Asia which runs from Nov. 3 to 13. The other countries the U.S. president will visit are Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, and the Philippines.

(By Rita Cheng and Kuan-lin Liu)