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'Mutual reassurance' needed to avoid Taiwan Strait crisis: U.S. NGO

ROC Central News Agency

12/23/2020 12:18 PM

New York, Dec. 22 (CNA) Amid ongoing tensions in the Taiwan Strait, Taiwan, China and the United States must seek out ways to clearly and peacefully signal their intentions and reduce mistrust in order to prevent conflict, a report issued Tuesday by a U.S. policy organization has argued.

The report, issued by the National Committee on American Foreign Policy (NCAFP), was based on closed-door, virtual discussions among scholars and former officials from the United States, China and Taiwan on cross-strait issues hosted by the NCAFP in October and December.

Participants in the meetings discussed the tensions caused by military activities in and around Taiwan, the deterioration of U.S.-China relations and practical steps the sides could take to provide "mutual reassurance," the report said, and reached several areas of agreement on existing problems and their possible remedies.

According to the report, participants agreed that the "total cut-off" of communications between Washington and Beijing as well as Beijing and Taipei has led to "substantial amounts of miscommunication, mistrust and miscalculation in the second half of 2020," significantly raising the risk of conflict.

In the case of Beijing and Taipei, both sides are "stuck in policy positions that make the resumption of cross-Strait dialogue impossible," the report said.

Beijing, it said, has insisted on the acceptance of the "92 consensus" or another one-China formulation as a precondition for talks, while Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has insisted on there being no preconditions for dialogue.

"The lack of trust between the two sides makes neither amenable to moving first in overcoming this significant roadblock," the report said.

Given that situation, the report said, "the urgent task is to find an authoritative cross-Strait signaling mechanism outside of military activities and in the absence of official dialogue."

Although leadership speeches and communiqués sometimes serve this purpose, they are often not regular or detailed enough to "withstand the crosswinds of current events," the report said.

Meanwhile, participants in the meetings were optimistic that the incoming administration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden would help stabilize the cross-Strait environment through "consistent and clearly-communicated U.S. policies," but acknowledged that a return to the pre-2016 status quo is unlikely.

A new status quo, the report said, must "guard avenues for positive-sum cooperation," even amid ongoing cross-Strait political deadlock and rising competition between the U.S. and China.

COVID-19 recovery and the protection of people-to-people exchanges between the three sides should be at the forefront of these efforts, according to the report.

The NCAFP did not provide the list of the participants at the meetings, but said the group had agreed to meet again in early 2021 to continue discussion on confidence-building measures and opportunities for cooperation within the existing political impasse.

(By Ozzy Yin and Matthew Mazzetta)

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