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2007/07/05

[轉載] Help Taiwan where it matters: Schriver



Published on Taipei Times
http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2007/07/05/2003368165

Help Taiwan where it matters: Schriver

POLITICAL IMPERATIVES: Tom Lantos argued that although he sympathizes with the plight of Taiwanese, the US' great power status forces it to accommodate Beijing

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA, WASHINGTON
Thursday, Jul 05, 2007, Page 3

Rather than rejecting outright Taiwan's efforts to hold a referendum next year, the US should encourage Taiwan to take steps that will strengthen its democracy, a former US State Department official said on Tuesday.

"More specifically, the US can encourage Taiwan to employ the tool of a national referendum to address issues that will be consequential in improving the lives of the people in Taiwan, rather than a more symbolic issue such as UN membership," said Randall Schriver, former deputy assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific affairs, in an article in the newsletter of the Pacific Forum, which is affiliated to the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Washington should also encourage Taiwanese leaders to consider the country's broader interests in improving relations with the US, as opposed to the "short-term gain" that might come from holding a symbolic referendum, he said.

Schriver said that from Washington's perspective, referendums in Taiwan could be categorized in three ways: a referendum on a topic that relates to good governance; a referendum that most clearly addresses the question of independence and/or sovereignty; and a referendum that is highly symbolic in nature that has no consequential impact on governance and policy and touches obliquely on questions of Taiwan's status or sovereignty.

While a referendum in the first category is quite easy to support and a referendum in category two is quite easy to oppose, a referendum in category three, such as the one planned on whether to apply for UN membership under the name of "Taiwan," would spark the most intense debate in Washington, Schriver said.

"But ultimately, Washington will likely discourage this type of referendum as well because the cost-benefit analysis for the US tilts in the negative direction," he said.

Schriver said the topic was merely symbolic because regardless of the outcome of the vote, there is no chance of Taiwan being admitted to the UN under any name as long as China holds veto power.

However, by specifying that the application should be made under the name "Taiwan," the question definitely touches on Taiwan's status, he said.

While persuading Taiwan to drop its plan to hold such a symbolic and impractical referendum, the US should remind Beijing that Washington supports democracy in Taiwan, including support for democratic methods such as conducting referendums, Schriver said.

Even if Taiwan ultimately decides to go ahead with the plan, Washington should urge Beijing to show restraint, he said.

Meanwhile, in a separate setting, Representative Tom Lantos, chairman of the House of Representatives' Committee on Foreign Affairs, said that maintaining the status quo across the Taiwan Strait was the most feasible and appropriate option for Taiwan at present.

Lantos said it was impractical for Taiwan to seek membership in the WHO and the UN, adding that neither the administration nor congress were in favor of the plan to hold a referendum on applying to join the UN under the name "Taiwan."

Lantos said he sympathizes with Taiwan's situation in the international arena and was pleased to see Taiwan's democratic and economic development.

However, in order to secure its status as a world superpower, the US, while continuing its friendship with Taiwan, has to remain on good terms with China, which is becoming increasingly strong and important, he said.

Lantos made the remarks after a meeting with Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), who was in San Francisco on Monday for a transit stop en route to Latin America.



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