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Taiwan should keep low profile as U.S.-China tension soars: ex-AIT chief

2018/12/15 20:17:18

Douglas Paal

Taipei, Dec. 15 (CNA) A former director of the American Institute in Taiwan's (AIT's) Taipei office advised Taiwan Saturday to stay low key as an economic cold war looms between the United States and China.

"My policy recommendation is: keep a low profile," Douglas Paal said during a forum in Taipei organized by the Fair Winds Foundation.

Paal made the remark when asked by foundation chairman and former Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) what advice he would give Taiwan's government and people, if the U.S. were to change its policy toward Taiwan as it enters a "new cold war" with China.

"One thing I learned from 40 years of watching Taiwan-China-U.S. relations is that when the U.S. and China are at odds, Taiwan often pays the price. When the U.S. and China can work on their issues, Taiwan benefits," said Paal, who served as AIT director from 2002-2006 and is now vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.

He said that under the current circumstances, people from Washington are likely to approach Taiwan with requests to do things, but Taiwan should "judge carefully" before agreeing to such requests, because they could create more problems for Taiwan than it can afford.

Paal said his second piece of advice for Taiwan is to quickly negotiate a bilateral free trade agreement with the United States, because such a deal would benefit Taiwan's economy and help Taiwanese companies to maintain their competitiveness.

Commenting on the possibility of a full-fledged "new cold war," Paal said it would be "unnecessary and costly" and the United States might not win.

At Saturday's forum, Paal also gave a keynote speech titled "The Beginning of a New Cold War? The Inevitable Confrontation between China and the U.S."

In his speech, Paal said that if the U.S. wants to pressure China, it should start by pushing China to follow through with its own 2013 economic reform program. That year, Chinese leaders pledged to let markets play a decisive role in the economy, thereby reducing the role of the state in the economy.

The U.S. should push for those reforms, instead of trying to arrest Huawei's chief financial officer, he added.

(By Christie Chen)
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