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Lack of cross-strait dialogue a concern: AIT chairman

2017/07/14 16:48:28

Washington, July 13 (CNA) The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) chairman indicated that while he is aware of the political constraints on Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) administration in terms of relations with China, there is still a degree of concern over the lack of cross-strait dialogue.

James Moriarty made the comments while answering questions at a conference on cross-strait relations, held at the Washington D.C. headquarters of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) on Thursday.

The questions included one raised by former AIT Chairman Richard Bush, who said that given the U.S. expects leaders on both sides to be restrained, flexible and creative, how has the Tsai administration addressed that standard?

Moriarty replied that the U.S. has seen and acknowledged the Tsai administration's attempts to reach out politically to China within the bounds of the political constraints she faces.

This has also involved trying to come up with a formulation that might provide a way forward for cross-strait relations, which have all but frozen since Tsai took office last year, he said.

Moriarty noted that there is big difference in the Tsai administration's handling of certain issues compared to that of the previous Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government over a decade ago.

The U.S. does not believe Tsai, who doubles as DPP chairwoman, and her administration is being provocative in any way. "We do see an attempt to show some creativity and flexibility, and we continue to urge on both sides (to do so)," he said.

Asked by CNA if both sides have shown sufficient flexibility and creativity? the head of the de facto U.S. embassy in Taiwan replied "there is concern that there is not enough dialogue going on."

He said "we do think we've seen Taiwan try to reach out to some extent. Is it totally sufficient? Do we know everything about it? No, maybe no for the both questions."

Since the DPP's Tsai was inaugurated as Taiwan's president in May 2016, cross-strait dialogue has been suspended due to her refusal to to heed Beijing's call to accept the "1992 consensus" as the sole political foundation for exchanges across the strait.

The "1992 consensus" refers to a tacit understanding reached in 1992 between China and Taiwan, which was then under a Kuomintang government, that there is only one China, with both sides free to interpret what that means.

Instead, Tsai has adopted a policy that emphasizes maintenance of the status quo in cross-strait relations. In May, she proposed a "new situation, new test and new model" for cross-strait relations.

In a recent interview with a local newspaper, Tsai described a series of questions put forward by Beijing for her to answer last year as "lacking goodwill." She believes the two sides need a "structural cooperative relationship" to maintain stability and peace.

Moriarty was one of the key-note speakers at the conference, titled "Cross-Strait Relations Re-examined: Toward a New Normal?," which was co-hosted by the CSIS's Freedom Chair in China Studies and China Power Project and the Institute of International Relations under National Chengchi University in Taipei.

(By Rita Cheng and Elizabeth Hsu)