Washington’s cross-strait power fading: analysts


TAIPEI — A “metamorphosis” in cross-Taiwan Strait development could bring a fundamental change to the triangular relations among Taiwan, China and the United States, with Washington’s influence fading, analysts said yesterday.

“The Taiwan issue is not an obstacle to U.S.-China relations now. The increasing U.S. support for China’s position on the issue is a result of the metamorphosis of cross-strait relations,” said Chang Kuo-cheng, a researcher at Taiwan Thinktank, in a forum on U.S.-China relations after Chinese President Hu Jintao’s state visit to the United States.

China does not need U.S. pressure to influence Taiwan at present because both sides of the strait have had extensive direct engagement in recent years, and Taiwan has willingly opted to position itself closer to China, Chang said.

The development has led the U.S. to slow its pace of arms sales to Taiwan, he said, adding that Taiwan would not likely gain Washington’s full support in future political talks with China if the current trend were to continue.

The U.S.-China Joint Statement in 2009, which was released during U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to China and stated for the first time that the U.S. respected China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, suggesting that Taiwan and Tibet are Chinese territories, had caused great harm to Taiwan.

The statement could be included, along with the three joint communiques and the Taiwan Relations Act, as part of U.S. policy in the future, Chang said.

Huang Wei-feng, a researcher at Academia Sinica, found it strange that Taiwan’s government applauded the U.S.-China joint statement in 2011 even though it was almost identical to the 2009 statement that everyone thought had harmed Taiwan.

Huang also questioned Washington’s encouragement of Taiwan to further cross-strait interaction “in economic, political, and other fields,” which he said was a violation of the U.S.’ “Six Assurances” made by the Reagan Administration in 1982 that says the U.S. would not play a mediation role between Taiwan and China.

Lai I-chung, a researcher at Taiwan Thinktank, urged people to pay attention to the differences between remarks made by Obama and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during the past week.

Clinton said on Jan. 14 that the U.S. approach toward Taiwan “continues to be guided by its one-China policy based on the three joint communiques and the Taiwan Relations Act” and the U.S. “seeks to encourage and see more dialogue and exchanges between the two sides, as well as reduced military tensions and deployments.”

Lai said, however, that Obama did not mention the Taiwan Relations Act and the Chinese military deployments in his remarks and went on to encourage political talks between both sides of the strait.

It appeared that China has excluded the South China Sea as part of its core interests after Hu Jintao only mentioned Taiwan and Tibet during his Washington trip, said Lin Cheng yi, a researcher at Academia Sinica.