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U.S. to have voice in Taiwan's 2016 presidential election: Bush

2014/09/13 18:02:15

Former AIT Chairman Richard Bush.

Washington, Sept. 12 (CNA) Richard Bush, a former chairman of the American Institute of Taiwan (AIT), said Friday that the United States "has not been quiet" on Taiwan's past presidential elections and will express its views on Taiwan's presidential election in 2016.

Speaking at a conference on "Relations across the Taiwan Strait" at the Brookings Institution on Friday, Bush said he was confident that the United States will express its views some time or in some way on how American interests "will be affected by Taiwan's elections."

He said the U.S. faces a dilemma. On one hand, it believes that voters of a friendly and democratic country have the right to decide their leader, and Washington should not express a preference for specific candidates to sway the outcome of the election.

"On the other hand, the United Sates does have interests in the policies of any elected leadership whether it is Taiwan or a lot of other places," said Bush, who was AIT chairman from 1997 to 2002 and is now the director of the Brookings Institution's Center for East Asia Policy Studies.

"So in spite of this dilemma, Washington has not been quiet," he said, citing an example from September 2011 when the Obama administration conveyed its views through the Financial Times.

The paper reported the administration as saying that if opposition Democratic Progressive Party Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen were to be elected president in January 2012, cross-strait tensions could heighten.

"So this is something we do. We feel there is a need for us to express our views on how our interests will be affected by Taiwan's elections," he said.

"To say nothing, which some in Taiwan might want us to do, is actually meant as a statement as well," he said.

Although Bush is not a U.S. official, he has long studied issues related to cross-strait ties and Taiwanese politics, and his remarks have triggered debate in Taiwan.

Bush said after the conference that the United States' fundamental interest is peace and security in the Western Pacific, including the Taiwan Strait. Many factors affect that interest, he said, including the policies of the ROC government.

"We have a preference for policies that contribute to peace and security," he said.

Asked about why he made the remarks, Bush said he felt "an obligation to remind Taiwan voters that we have that interest and how they cast their vote could have a bearing on it."

(By Tony Liao and Lilian Wu)
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●Sept. 13: DPP respects remarks on U.S. stating views on Taiwan's elections