U.S. should do more to push back against China: Former AIT head

Former American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Chairman Richard Bush said Wednesday that the United States should do more to push back against what he called the "unproductive" recent actions by Beijing to suppress Taiwan internationally.

In an interview with CNA, Bush said the U.S. could take actions such as sending a Cabinet secretary to the formal opening of the new AIT building in Taipei and forging a bilateral investment agreement with Taiwan.

"If Taiwan is so important to the United States and U.S. interests, as I think it is, we should deal with it in a different way when it comes to trade negotiations," Bush said in the interview after a Brookings Institution forum titled "Taiwan under Tsai: A two-year review."

Bush said he did not see the sense in delaying talks on such an agreement due to the issue of Taiwan's reluctance to open its market to U.S. beef and pork that contain traces of the livestock feed additive ractopamine.

"It would be in the U.S.' interest and in Taiwan's interest to first have a bilateral investment agreement, and to hold that up over market access on beef and pork doesn't make sense to me," he said.

On the issue of China's efforts to squeeze Taiwan's space in the international arena, Bush they were unproductive but the U.S. "can help Taiwan push back against this kind of behavior."

Bush, who is currently co-director of the Washington-based Brookings Institution's Center for East Asia Policy Studies, said that with regard to security, the existing military-to-military relations between Taiwan and the U.S. are most important, alongside arms sales to Taiwan.

The mil-to-mil relations involve "thousands of different episodes of our two sides working together ... which strengthen Taiwan's military capabilities," he said, adding that the relations have greatly evolved since he was AIT chairman 20 years ago.

Bush, however, sidestepped a question about whether he thought Taiwan would be invited to participate in the U.S.-led Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercises, a multinational naval exercise scheduled for this summer, now that China has been disinvited.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel