Taiwan's future should be decided by its people: ex-AIT chief

06/07/2019 05:00 PM
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Taipei, June 7 (CNA) Richard Bush, former chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), said Friday in a radio interview that Taiwan's future should be decided by its people, and its leaders should remind China of that if necessary.

So far the Taiwanese people have shown no interest in the "one country, two systems" formula put forth by Chinese President President Xi Jinping (習近平), who is seeking a third term in office, Bush said.

Responding to a question during the POP Radio interview in Taipei, Bush said neither Xi's term in office nor the milestone of the 20th anniversary of the National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 2022 should be relevant to a decision by the Taiwanese people regarding the "one country, two systems" formula.

"Fundamentally, there's nothing about an anniversary or milestone that should govern the timing of what the Taiwan people decide about unification," Bush said.

The effects of unification would be enduring, hence, the Taiwanese people should decide only when they are ready, he said.

"If Beijing tries to pressure Taiwan into making a decision in 2021 or 2022, Taiwan's leaders should remind Beijing that it's up to the mainland to convince the Taiwanese people of the merits of its proposal," Bush said.

He said China's conditions for participation in discussions on a plan for Taiwan seem to give Beijing officials the sole right to decide who should be at the table.

The people in the "green camp" should not be excluded, Bush said, referring to the pan-green coalition in Taiwan, which favors independence over unification with China.

On the issue of the tensions between China and the U.S., Bush said he does not see it as a clash of civilizations, but rather as a conflict of interest between a "reviving China and a status quo U.S." in the same geographical space.

"China now has abilities that it did not before," he said. "China is projecting its military power into the first island chain, where the U.S. has dominated for decades, and this produces frictions."

He further said that even if China became more democratic, "it might pursue the same interests versus the U.S. that the Communist Party of China is pursuing today."

Regarding the trade issues, Bush said that American companies, many of which used to be strong supporters of U.S.-China relations, now believe that trade and technological cooperation with China is no longer mutually beneficial, therefore, they want Washington to pressure Beijing so the playing field could be leveled.

As a result, Washington's views toward Beijing have become more negative, dovish politicians have become a little hawkish, and hawkish politicians have become more hawkish, Bush said.

Asked to comment on the Hong Kong government's proposed amendment to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance, he said it is an indication that Beijing is working hard to restrict the political freedoms of the Hong Kong people and undermine the rule of law.

This is a significant change compared to the situation prior to 2016, when Beijing was showing respect for the rule of law and the civil rights of the Hong Kong people, Bush said.

(By Elaine Hou and Emerson Lim)


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