Taiwan, Hong Kong to be discussed by U.S. official in China

2019/10/02 12:07 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
U.S. Assistant Secretary for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Randall Schriver

Washington, Oct. 1 (CNA) A senior U.S. official in charge of security affairs in the Indo-Pacific region said Tuesday he expects to raise issues related to Taiwan and Hong Kong with Chinese counterparts during his visit to China next week.

"I imagine it (the Taiwan issue) will come up, it usually does," said U.S. Assistant Secretary for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Randall Schriver at a Brookings Institution forum in Washington in response to a question on whether Taiwan and Hong Kong would be discussed.

"Our position is pretty consistent and clear. So if they raise it, I'll have an opportunity to reiterate our policies and where we do have concerns."

Due to escalating tensions in Hong Kong, Schriver said the issue is also likely to be touched upon during his upcoming meetings in Beijing with Chinese officials.

Reiterating U.S.'s stance, the official said Washington hopes the situation can be resolved "in a way that preserves the rights and the freedoms and the dignity of the people of Hong Kong."

"We are concerned with, not the levels of protest, but the response to it and what appears to be an increasingly heavy hand and so it is concerning to us. We want to see the basic rights and freedoms of the people restored," he stressed.

Meanwhile, when asked what the U.S. could do to help Taiwan counter China's growing pressure, Schriver said the framework provided under the Taiwan Relations Act gives the U.S. a level of flexibility to provide assistance.

"We've made some decisions recently on security assistance that was consistent with the law and the growing threat from China," he said, without specifying what those decisions were.

He may have been referring to the U.S. government's recent decision to sell advanced 66 F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan to bolster its defensive capabilities.

Schriver also warned that there is "very little doubt" that the Chinese will seek to meddle in Taiwan's presidential and legislative elections being held in January 2020.

With Beijing's methods of interfering in Taiwan's politics growing more sophisticated through social media, Washington is "doing certain things" to support "a fellow democracy in carrying out a free, fair and non-coercive election, particularly on the cyber space," Schriver said, without elaborating.

In the longer run, the U.S. will continue to be a strong partner of Taiwan on the security and economic fronts to help Taiwan maintain its unique status until the two sides of the Taiwan Strait find a better way to resolve their differences, he said.

Tuesday's forum was held as Beijing celebrated the 70th anniversary of communist rule in China on Oct. 1.

In Hong Kong, however, an activist involved in pro-democracy movements was shot in the chest by police during a clash the same day.

Though people have been shot by rubber bullets in previous protests, this is the first injury from a live round as the months-long protest continued to escalate.

(By Stacy Hsu and Joseph Yeh) Enditem/ls

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