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Trump urged to stand firm against China on Taiwan issue: report

2018/02/04 21:17:20

United States President Donald Trump/CNA file photo

Taipei, Feb.4 (CNA) Taiwanese officials and lawmakers are calling on the administration of United States President Donald Trump to step up its support for Taiwan amid increasing political pressure by China, according to a U.S. media report.

In a report datelined Taipei, Politico said on Feb. 2 that Taiwanese officials have been pleading for Trump's protection against Beijing's bullying, on grounds that Beijing has stepped up its campaign of political and military intimidation against Taipei during Trump's first year in office.

China has a big strategy to exercise more political pressure on Taiwan and its goal is to "internally try to divide Taiwan, divide our society," Chang Hsiao-yueh (張小月), head of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council, was quoted as saying in the report.

The Chinese "are trying to establish networks here and mobilize some people to speak for their objectives - for their eventual goal to unify Taiwan," Chang was quoted as saying.

According to the report, there are concerns among Taiwanese leaders that Trump may see Taiwan as a potential bargaining chip in his dealings with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平).

Human rights, freedom, democracy and freedom of speech are not in Trump's thinking because "Trump, being the businessman that he is, always looking to do deals," Kuomintang (KMT) Legislator Jason Hsu (許毓仁) was quoted as saying.

Politico said that in recent phone call with Xi, Trump reaffirmed the U.S.' one-China policy, which has disappointed some China hawks in the U.S. Congress, though Trump also suggested his assurances could be tied to China's willingness to bargain on trade and other issues.

While Trump's policy on the Taiwan issue remains unclear, the U.S. Congress is taking a lead role to pressure him with pro-Taiwan legislation, the report said, citing as an example the draft version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2018 proposed by Senator Ted Cruz, which called for the Pentagon to study and issue a report about the feasibility of Navy vessels visiting Taiwanese ports.

Following pressure by Beijing for that clause to be deleted, a House-Senate conference committee "acceded to that request," Cruz was quoted as saying.

Beijing is also watching closely to see whether Congress acts on the Taiwan Travel Act, which was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last month with the aim of facilitating visits between Taiwan and the U.S. at all levels, according to Politico.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio has sponsored the Senate version of the legislation, but no Senate action has yet been scheduled on the measure, the report said.

Generally, the Taiwan issue is a foreign policy conundrum for Trump who has said he wants to stand up to China's regional aggression but who also wants Xi's help on North Korea and trade issues, the report said.

(By Shih Hsiu-chuan and Leaf Jiang)
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