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Chinese president's U.S. visit raises alarm on Taiwan-U.S. ties

ROC Central News Agency

2011/01/18 17:40:43

By Jenny W. Hsu

Taipei, Jan 18 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou must urge Washington to strongly reiterate U.S. obligations to Taiwan's security under the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) during Chinese President Hu Jintao's upcoming 72-hour state visit to the U.S., scholars said Tuesday at a Taiwan Brain Trust forum in Taipei.

Liu Shih-chung, a researcher for the think tank, which is widely perceived to favor the opposition pan-green camp, said the Ma government must do all it can to prevent Washington and Beijing from forging another joint declaration as they did in November 2009 when U.S. President Barack Obama visited China.

Liu said the 2009 statement, in which Beijing called on the U.S. to respect that Taiwan is part of China's territorial "core interests," has greatly damaged Taiwan's sovereign status and Beijing has used the document to reinforce its unilateral claim on Taiwan.

"Another U.S.-Sino joint statement will only further damage Taiwan's sovereignty," he said, warning that Ma's warming up to China has weakened Taipei's relations with Washington.

Hu is scheduled to arrive in Washington Jan. 18 and meet with Obama on the 19th before leaving the next day.

Joseph Wu, a former representative to the U.S., also predicted that Hu will use the visit to defend the value of the Chinese yuan, demand that the U.S. relax its containment policy against China, and call on the U.S. to respect China's territorial claims.

All these gestures, he said, could end up hurting Taiwan's overall interests and possibly its security.

While both the Obama and the Ma administrations have touted improved U.S.-Taiwan links, these claims are merely empty lip-service, according to Wu.

For example, although Obama risked upsetting China by approving a US$6.4 billion arms package for Taiwan last year, the deal was actually cemented during the previous administration of former President Chen Shui-bian. Moreover, the ruling Kuomintang rejected the gesture by saying it does not have the budget to seal the deal, he said.

Bilateral trade has also waned in the last two years, he argued, saying that there have been zero high-level economic official visits during the period.

"This shows that Taiwan is only interested in forging stronger trade relations with Beijing, while ignoring its strongest and most important friend," he said.

According to Wu, there has also been no visible progress made in efforts to obtain U.S. visa-waiver privileges for Taiwanese nationals or sign a mutual extradition treaty, two items that he said have remained stagnant on the negotiating table for several years.

Luo Chih-cheng, executive officer of the think tank, said that "the most important matter is Taiwan's own definition of its status, and it appears that Ma either does not care or does not know the seriousness of the matter. Or perhaps he does not dare to do anything about it because he wants to appease China."

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