U.S. scholars comment on Taiwan's elections - Focus Taiwan

U.S. scholars comment on Taiwan's elections

New York, Jan. 16 (CNA) The top priority of Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the Democratic Progressive Party will be to ensure a smooth transition of cross-Taiwan Strait relations now that she has won Saturday's presidential election, a U.S. expert on cross-strait issues said shortly after Tsai's victory.

New York University professor Jerome Alan Cohen said the most important issue is whether the government she leads will let cross-strait relations transition to the next stage smoothly.

The current Kuomintang administration has maintained cordial relations with China over the past eight years.

He forecast that under the new government, the long-stalled cross-strait trade-in-services agreement will be even harder to clear in the legislature, negotiations on a trade-in-goods agreement will be harder to complete and cross-strait economic integration will be even more difficult to form.

He also predicted that the new government will expand relations with Southeast Asian nations, Japan, South Korea and the United States.

On the possible response of China to Tsai's victory in the election, Cohen also said that it "will test the maturity of the Xi Jinping leadership."

Shelly Rigger, a professor of political science at Davidson College in North Carolina, predicted that Tsai will say something aimed at maintaining cross-strait cooperation in her inaugural address.

"I believe that Tsai will try to say something that can preserve the current cooperation across the strait, and I will not be surprised if Beijing is more flexible than it was in 2000, in terms of what will be acceptable," she said.

"No one, including Beijing -- wants a sharp break in relations," she said.

The U.S. will certainly encourage such a development, since Washington also hopes relations can continue to be cordial. she said.

"The pace of integration will probably slow down, but I believe all sides are hoping to avoid major deterioration, which serves no one's interests," she added.

Richard Bush, director of the Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution, said it will be difficult to predict Beijing's reaction to the elections, because it is "not a transparent system."

"What the U.S. hopes is that Beijing will demonstrate patience, flexibility and restraint in the wake of the elections," he said.

(By Huang Chao-ping, Rita Cheng and Lilian Wu; click here for the full coverage of the elections.)ENDITEM/J

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