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Unilateral changes to cross-strait status quo inadvisable: think tank

2019/02/19 18:00:26

Richard Haass (left) and President Tsai-Ing-wen (蔡英文)

Washington, Feb. 19 (CNA) The status quo across the Taiwan Strait is not perfect, but it would be far worse if any unilateral attempts were made to change the situation, according to Richard Haass, president of the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations.

"The risks for all concerned are high. It would be best to avoid symbolic steps that would be unacceptable to the others," Haass wrote in an article published Feb. 15 by Project Syndicate, an online international media organization.

For the United States, a crisis would mean coming to Taiwan's aid, which could lead to a new Cold War or even a conflict with China, Haass wrote in an opinion piece titled The Looming Taiwan Crisis.

"A decision, though, to leave Taiwan to its own devices would undermine U.S. credibility and possibly prompt Japan to reconsider its non-nuclear status and alliance with the U.S.," he said.

America's commitments to Taiwan were articulated in the Taiwan Relations Act signed in 1979, Haas noted, adding that the U.S. would be gravely concerned at any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means.

Although the law stated that the U.S. will support Taiwan's self-defense and maintain the capacity to come to Taiwan's aid, it was left vague whether the U.S. actually would do that, Haas said.

"Taiwan could not assume that it would; the mainland could not assume that it would not," he said. "Such ambiguity was meant to dissuade either side from unilateral acts that could trigger a crisis."

A crisis over Taiwan in which China introduced severe sanctions or used military force could threaten the autonomy and economic wellbeing of the island, Haass said.

Such a crisis could have a negative impact on China, wreck its relations with the U.S. and many of its neighbors, and rock an already shaky Chinese economy, he said.

"In other words, the risks for all concerned are high," Haass wrote. "The status quo is admittedly imperfect, but it is far less imperfect than what would follow unilateral actions and attempts to resolve a situation that doesn't lend itself to a neat solution."

(By Chiang Chinye and Ko Lin)