- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 18, 2009

TAIPEI, TAIWAN (AP) - Rapidly growing ties between China and Taiwan are very much in the interest of the United States and do not undercut the American strategic posture in the western Pacific, the top U.S official dealing with Taipei said Wednesday.

The comments by Chairman Raymond Burghardt of the American Institute in Taiwan come amid suggestions that the rapid improvement in relations between Taipei and Beijing can undercut Taiwan’s usefulness as part of an anti-China defensive perimeter that also includes mainland Japan and Okinawa.

Burghardt, a veteran U.S. diplomat who has also served as ambassador to Vietnam, said that interpretation had no role in American policy.

“I have never heard it in a policy discussion, and I have never seen it in a policy document,” he said.

Burghardt’s visit to Taiwan _ his sixth since taking over the AIT chairmanship _ comes as Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou moves forward with his cornerstone platform of improving relations with China, from which the island split amid civil war in 1949.

Relations between the sides were exceptionally tense during the just concluded administration of Ma predecessor Chen Shui-bian, who favored formal independence for Taiwan.

China, which still claims Taiwan as part of its territory, has warned repeatedly that a formal Taiwanese decision to make their split permanent would lead to war.

Burghardt said that the United States was very heartened by the new atmospherics across the 100-mile- (160-kilometer-) wide Taiwan Strait, calling it something that made Washington “comfortable.”

“This era of cross-strait stability is very favorable to U.S. interests,” he said.

AIT was established in 1979 when Washington transferred its recognition from Taipei to Beijing. Its Taiwan office serves as the de facto U.S. embassy on the island. Burghhardt splits his time between Honolulu and Washington.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide