Taiwan should not 'distance self from China': security expert

2017/03/08 19:17:53 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
Taiwan should not 'distance self from China': security expert

Taipei, March 8 (CNA) A former national security official advised Taiwan on Wednesday against trying to distance itself from China while taking a pro-United States and Japan stance, as the Trump administration is unlikely to pay as much attention to such issues as human rights and democracy as previous U.S. administrations.

Su Chi (蘇起), secretary general of the National Security Council in the Ma Ying-jeou government, suggested that the best approach for Taiwan would be "making peace with China, making friends with Japan and getting closer to the U.S."

Su made his remarks during a seminar on "How Taiwan should behave in the midst of a changing Asia-Pacific" co-sponsored by policy think thank Taiwan Competitiveness Forum and Chinese Culture University's College of Social Sciences.

Su is known for coining the term "1992 consensus" -- a tacit agreement reached between China and Taiwan, when the Kuomintang (KMT) was the ruling party, that there is only 'one China' with each side free to interpret what that means. The term has since become a cornerstone of cross-strait policy on which Beijing insists official exchanges with Taiwan must be based.

Su said Taiwan should seek to establish dialogue with China and discuss a wide range of issues relating to peaceful co-existence, a task that is of some urgency because the United States under President Donald Trump cannot be expected to stand up for Taiwan.

It is absolutely not wise for Taiwan to "fight with" China and delaying peace negotiations is not the right approach either as such a drawn-out period will inevitably lead to a showdown, he said.

The longer official talks between Taipei and Beijing are postponed, the weaker Taiwan's military and economic strengths will be -- leaving Taiwan with the choice of "begging rather than negotiating" for peace, said Su.

Taiwan has always been the "most sensitive and important" issue in East Asia, according to the China expert who also served as Taiwan's minister of mainland (China) affairs under former President Lee Teng-hui.

If not handled properly, the Taiwan issue is the one mostly likely to trigger conflict between China and the U.S., he pointed out, noting that it was therefore preferable for Taiwan to seek dialogue with China under a framework that focuses on "making peace with China, making friends with Japan and getting closer to the U.S."

If Taiwan seeks to "distance itself from China while focusing on pro-U.S. and Japan policies" by siding with them politically and economically, that will increase Chinese pressure to such an extent that the U.S. will sooner or later come to consider Taiwan a trouble maker, Su said.

In answer to media questions, Su further commented that without official dialogue, Taipei and Beijing will simply "assume the worst" of each other, which could lead to misunderstandings.

In this situation it is absolutely essential that the Tsai Ing-wen administration and the Xi Jinping government take the "first step" in establishing lines of communication if the two sides are serious about solving problems, he said.

"That is the only way for the two sides to extricate themselves from their current dilemma," he added.

(By Miao Tsung-han and S.C. Chang)

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