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North Korea issue rocking Taiwan-U.S.-China relations: experts

2017/08/18 17:35:30

Taipei, Aug. 18 (CNA) Worsening relations between China and the U.S. in the wake of North Korea's nuclear expansion could have implications for Taiwan, experts said Friday in a forum that addressed the development of Taiwan-U.S. relations under changing dynamics in the Asia-Pacific region.

"I think that U.S.-China relations are going to continue on a downward path. I think it's because of the North Korean issue," said William Stanton, a former director of the American Institute in Taiwan.

The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump is likely to get tougher on China after their differences over North Korea, among other issues such as the South China Sea and trade, Stanton said in the Taipei forum.

China's unwillingness to put sufficient pressure on North Korea, which has launched a series of intercontinental ballistic missile tests since late July, has infuriated the U.S., according to Stanton.

The escalating tension between the U.S. and China might leave the U.S. with no option but to increase its support for Taiwan, through both arms and trade, he said.

However, Stanton cautioned that the deterioration in U.S. relations with China does not necessarily bode well for Taiwan.

"Problems in dealing with the U.S. could cause China to step up its measures against Taiwan," Stanton said.

However, former U.S. Congressman Matthew Salmon said there is an opportunity for Taiwan after China's failure to meet U.S. expectations to exert its influence on North Korea in order to stop its proliferation of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles.

"A strong alliance between the U.S., Japan, South Korea and Taiwan would provide greater stability to the region and with China, as we try to get them to be more forceful with North Korea in ceasing their nuclear ambitions," Salmon said.

Still others pointed out that while there are opportunities for Taiwan, they are not easy ones.

Peter Mattis, a fellow of The Jamestown Foundation, said that the Trump administration has so far kept a steady hand in its foreign and defense policies in Asia.

"The more serious danger for Taiwan's future is the continuing status quo in U.S. policy toward China," he said, explaining that as long as Washington prioritizes stability in U.S.-China relations, Taiwan's position will be precarious.

(By Lee Hsin-Yin)
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