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China's military actions aim to impact Taiwan 2020 election: ex-AIT head

ROC Central News Agency

2019/06/05 15:36:04

Taipei, June 5 (CNA) China's military actions over the years are being carried out for political purposes in an attempt to influence Taiwan's upcoming presidential election in 2020, former American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Chairman Richard Bush said Wednesday.

Asked to comment on Taiwan's defensive needs, Bush, who is now a senior fellow at the Washington-based Brookings Institution, said the Chinese People's Liberation Army's (PLA's) recent movement around the Taiwan Strait is a form of political warfare.

"It's a display of force. It's not the use of force. It's designed to have a political impact on the competition within Taiwan over who will hold power starting May 20, 2020," he said.

Bush said such actions, however, are dangerous, as they could lead to miscommunication.

The ex-AIT chair was referring to the fact that that PLA has been sending more warships and aircraft into Taiwanese territory since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) assumed office in May 2016, to show dissatisfaction with the Tsai administration.

On March 31, two Chinese air force planes crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait, a rare move that violated a long-held tacit agreement between the two sides, further escalating the already heightened cross-strait tension.

In his speech in Taipei, Bush said it will be interesting to see what will Beijing do after 2020 when either the China-friendly opposition Kuomintang (KMT) or a pro-Taiwan independence candidate wins the election.

"What does Beijing do then? Does it dial back? Does it reduce the exercises in the Taiwan area? Which really proves that this is all done for political purposes," he claimed.

On the upcoming election, Bush, who served from 1997-2002 as chairman of the AIT, which represents U.S. interests in Taiwan in the absence of official ties, urged Taiwanese voters to think carefully before casting a ballot that could determine their future.

"I strongly believe that when people go to vote Jan. 11, they should think very seriously about what Taiwan's fundamental interests are, which set of policies best promote those interests, which set of policies best benefit themselves, and pick a candidate who is best aligned with their own definition," he said.

Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) of the KMT and Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), who it is believed will run as an independent, are currently ahead in the polls.

The two contenders of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), meanwhile, are Tsai and former Premier Lai Ching-te (賴清德).

(By Joseph Yeh)
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