United Daily News: America's view of Taiwan protests
Central News Agency
2014-04-07 11:12 AM
Recently, several American personalities familiar with Taiwan affairs have commented on the ongoing protests in Taiwan against a trade-in-services agreement with China, the most noteworthy figure being Daniel Russel, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs. During a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on April 3, Russel described the protests as a reflection of Taiwan's "very robust democracy" but he also urged the student-led demonstrators to use their freedom "responsibly" and "behave in a civil and in a peaceful manner." Obviously, while the United States does not see Taiwan as an authoritarian country, it is hoping that the protesters will not overstep the principles of democracy and rule of law. While the protesters hold a negative view of President Ma Ying-jeou's efforts to promote relations with China, Russel said Washington welcomes the "extraordinary progress" in cross-Taiwan Strait ties under the Ma administration. He also mentioned a meeting in February between the top cross-strait policy makers of the two sides, calling it an "extraordinary and historic milestone." This was like a bolt from the blue to the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which many believe is secretly supporting the students' action to occupy the Legislative Yuan. David Brown, a board member of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), said that an open letter by DPP Legislator Hsiao Bi-khim on the protests was "a partisan statement" that omitted "much of the story" about the services trade pact. Brown also suggested that backing the students behind the scenes is "in the DPP's interest" because it "suits the DPP's election mobilization goals to exploit issues for political advantage." Former AIT Chairman Richard Bush, meanwhile, commended Ma for "trying very hard" to resolve the standoff and said the president's remarks on March 29 in response to the students' demands were "quite eloquent and quite conciliatory." Even if Bush and Brown were only expressing their personal views, they may reflect a perception that is taking form in Washington. While those students can turn a blind eye to the possible impact of their actions on cross-strait ties and Taiwan's foreign relations, can the DPP forget the lessons of its reckless confrontation with the U.S. and China during its eight years in power, which eventually led to the party's defeat in the 2008 presidential election? (Editorial abstract -- April 7, 2014) (By Y.F. Low)
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