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U.S. helping to protect Taiwan against Chinese election meddling

2019/06/20 15:02:37

Washington, June 19 (CNA) In anticipation that China will try to meddle with Taiwan's presidential election next year, the United States has started dialogue with Taiwan to help strengthen its ability to deal with the issue, a U.S. official said Wednesday.

"It's a very important issue for us," Randall Schriver, U.S. assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, said during the conclusion of a forum on Asian policies that touched on Taiwan's 2020 presidential election.

"There's no question in our minds that China will try to meddle, as it has done in every previous election," Schriver said.

In 1996, it came in the form of missile exercises. In 2000, then-Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji (朱鎔基) threatened the people of Taiwan, he noted.

Schriver was referring to the incident in the lead up to Taiwan's 1996 presidential election when China fired missiles into waters near Taiwan in an apparent move to dissuade people from voting for then-President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝).

Ahead of the 2000 presidential election, Beijing resorted to verbal threats, with Zhu warning voters not to vote for then-Democratic Progressive Party candidate Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

The biggest challenge facing Taiwan is the growing sophistication of the tactics used by the People's Republic of China, Schriver said, adding that China is expected to use social media and cyber intrusions to interfere in Taiwan's election this time around.

Dialogue between between the U.S. and Taiwan has started, Schriver said, but declined to divulge details, saying only that the U.S. will contribute to Taiwan's abilities and expertise as the election approaches.

Also during the forum, American Institute in Taiwan Chairman James Moriarty said that the relationship between Taiwan and the U.S. is governed not by policy but by the Taiwan Relations Act.

He also noted that Taiwan is described as a beacon of democracy which means that anyone there aged under 35 has a "democratic DNA."

"They expect to elect their leaders, they expect to be able to criticize their views, they expect to be able to throw out their own stuff," Moriarty said.

After the forum, Moriarty told reporters that China should make sure its attempts to resolve the cross-Taiwan Strait issue are acceptable to the people on both sides of the strait.

China's "one country, two system" formula is not helpful and not attractive to the Taiwan side, he pointed out.

(By Chiang Chin-yeh and Evelyn Kao)
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