Taiwan Strait status quo a top issue in Europe-U.S. talks: American official

05/10/2022 08:27 PM
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White House Indo-Pacific policy coordinator Kurt Campbell. CNA file photo
White House Indo-Pacific policy coordinator Kurt Campbell. CNA file photo

Washington, May 9 (CNA) There has been an "unprecedented" level of dialogue recently between the United States and European countries on Indo-Pacific issues, including discussions about the "critical" importance of maintaining the status quo in the Taiwan Strait, White House Indo-Pacific policy coordinator Kurt Campbell said Monday.

The focus on the cross-strait status quo is a change from the past, when the talks were mainly about technology and development issues in general, Campbell said in a speech at a Washington forum.

There is now recognition that it is critical to address "what is necessary to sustain the status quo" in the Taiwan Strait, Campbell said in his keynote address at the forum on transatlantic dialogue about the Indo-Pacific region.

The subtle message in the recent dialogue between the U.S. and European countries is that they "have a profound interest across the board in the maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait," he said.

Campbell said that when U.S. President Joe Biden laid out his Indo- Pacific strategy, the expectation was that it would primarily involve partners in that region, but there has been an "incredible" level of dialogue and engagement between the U.S. and European countries on issues related to the Indo-Pacific.

One of the factors behind the widening interest in the region was the joint statement issued by Russia and China in February, which spurred concern among Asian countries, Campbell said.

The keynote address by Kurt Campbell begins at 1:36:14. From CSIS' YouTube channel

In the statement, Russia and China declared "no limits" to their partnership, denounced any expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and asserted that they would establish a new global order with true "democracy," according to a New York Times report.

In another story, the New York Times cited a western intelligence report as saying that China had some level of direct knowledge about Russia's invasion of Ukraine and that Russian President Vladimir Putin had met with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) in Beijing on Feb. 4 before the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics.

Campbell said that countries in Asia are now adamant that nothing like Russian's current military actions should be contemplated in the Indo-Pacific region, and the cautionary tale of Ukraine has spurred a lot of quiet strategic thinking across the Indo-Pacific.

The administration of former U.S. President Barack Obama made the major mistake of thinking that its "pivot to Asia" strategy meant that the U.S. was "somehow pivoting away from Europe," said Campbell, who was considered one of the architects of Obama's "rebalancing policy" in 2012.

"There is a deep sense that we are now moving and engaging together, not just in Europe at the time of these enormous challenges in Ukraine, but also thinking constructively about strategy and approaches to the Indo Pacific going forward," Campbell said.

The forum on transatlantic dialogue on the Indo-Pacific was co-hosted in Washington by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the Centre for Security, Diplomacy, and Strategy (CSDS) of the Brussels School of Governance.

(By Chiang Chin-yeh and Shih Hsiu-chuan)

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