U.S. urged to send cabinet officials to Taiwan as China poaches allies

2019/11/23 15:13 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big

Washington, Nov. 22 (CNA) A former senior advisor to the Trump administration on Friday urged the White House to send a cabinet official to Taiwan whenever Beijing succeeds in poaching a diplomatic ally from Taipei.

Christian Whiton, a senior advisor to former U.S.President Gorge W. Bush and President Donald Trump, said in a forum held by the Hudson Institute, a think tank based in Washington, that dispatching a cabinet official to Taiwan whenever China steals an ally from Taiwan is expected to send a signal of the consequences Beijing should face for continuing to undermine Taipei's ability to conduct diplomacy.

To counter Beijing's political warfare, he also suggested the White House allow Taiwan's president and foreign minister to visit Washington instead of just making transit stops in U.S. cities when they visit their allies.

"Every time that Beijing succeeds in flipping a country from Taiwan to China, we send a cabinet secretary to Taiwan," Whiton said.

"They're going to reduce Taiwan's ability to conduct diplomacy. And we're going to do what we can to make them whole again, or at least bring them back to even," he said.

In the past three years, seven of Taiwan's diplomatic allies switched recognition to China, leaving the total number of allies Taiwan has to only 15 worldwide. In September alone, Taiwan lost two Pacific allies, the Solomon Islands and Kiribati, to Beijing.

Taiwan's National Security Council has warned it could lose more before the January 2020 presidential elections.

Similarly, Whiton said, when China prevents Taiwan from participating in the World Health Organization, the U.S. government should send its Secretary of Health and Human Services or four-star admiral who runs the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps to Taiwan to make up for the harm caused by Beijing to Taipei.

"We're not doing this, I would say, just to enrage China, even though clearly Beijing would be enraged, but to create obvious consequences so that there is a predictable outcome to Beijing's political warfare, something that we can all understand," Whiton said.

According to Whiton, Republican Senator Ted Cruz is planning to propose a Taiwan SOS bill, which aims to get rid of an insult faced by Taiwan under the current one China policy, such as the prohibition of Taiwan's government officials from visiting U.S. government agencies, including the State Department and the Pentagon.

Recently, Washington has expressed serious concerns about Taiwan's loss of its diplomatic allies.

On Oct. 30, Representatives of the House Foreign Affairs Committee passed its version of the Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative (TAIPEI) Act of 2019 to help the country keep its diplomatic allies amid Beijing's pressure, a day after the Senate passed a similar bill bearing the same name.

The act authorizes the U.S. State Department to consider "reducing its economic, security and diplomatic engagements with nations that take serious or significant actions to undermine Taiwan."

Under the act, the U.S. government should also help Taiwan gain participation in international organizations, either as a member or an observer, and express its support for Taiwan's international participation when it interacts with Beijing.

Also in the forum, Ian Easton, a research fellow at U.S. think tank Project 2049 Institute, said the U.S. should gradually normalize its ties with Taiwan.

"I think we need to think about what the world is going to look like in 2030 if we continue on this path. I also think it's obvious that we need to develop a roadmap for normalizing relations with Taiwan in an incremental fashion," Easton said.

At a time when China builds up its military strength to intimidate Taiwan, Easton said, Washington and Taipei should begin to share their air and surface radar pictures with each other.

He added that the U.S. should conduct joint air and naval military exercises with Taiwan.

(By Stacy Hsu and Frances Huang)Enditem/cs


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