Reunify only in a way that China and Taiwan support: ret. U.S. admiral

Washington, China's reunification with Taiwan should only proceed if it is supported by both the Taiwanese side and Chinese side, Scott Swift, the former commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet (PACFLT), said Friday, adding that force and coercion should not be used.

"We support the One (China) policy in the context that reunification should proceed in a way that is supported by both the Taiwanese side and the Chinese side and that force and coercion should not be used," said Swift at seminar held by the Hudson Institute, a Washington-based think tank.

When asked if the United States would come to Taiwan's rescue if China invaded Taiwan, the admiral did not directly address the hypothetical question, but said there were increasing numbers of U.S. generals and flag officers visiting Taiwan.

"I think that's helpful,"he said.

While emphasizing the importance of the bilateral military exchanges between Taiwan and the U.S., Swift said he didn't think China should feel threatened.

"The more dialogues and discourses we have, the greater opportunities (for) increasing stability throughout the region, just not only in the relationship between China and Taiwan," said the former PACFLT head.

Commenting on U.S. vessels recently making more frequent transits through the Taiwan Strait, the admiral said such operations are in compliance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

"Those transits are normal and routine in the context when that makes sense, for the navy perspective," he added.

Swift further pointed out that he wouldn't characterize such transits as Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs).

FONOPs are operations by U.S. naval and air forces that reinforce internationally-recognized rights and freedoms by challenging excessive maritime claims.

In order for such transits to be characterized as FONOPs, Swift noted, there has to be a specific constraint applied by a specific country that exceeds the U.S. interpretation of UNCLOS.

"I am not aware of any, either by Taiwan or China, that exist or that the U.S. believes exist and in turn challenges with its transits," he said in an email reply to a follow-up question by CNA after the seminar.

Also at the seminar, Christine Wormuth, a former under secretary of defense for policy during the Obama administration, said the most important things the United States and Taiwan can do is develop the capabilities the two sides need to make an invasion of Taiwan so unappetizing that it never happens.

"The Unite States needs to be investing in some capabilities it already has and in many new capabilities that it needs to get; Taiwan needs to be working on that as well,"she said.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel