Saturday, March 28, 2009

William Stanton for AIT?

The Taipei Times reports that the replacement for current AIT director Stephen Young, who has done an excellent job, will be William Stanton:
Other sources said that Stanton would be a controversial choice because he has a history of strong support for Beijing’s policies and had impeded internal reports critical of the Chinese regime.

One source said that Stanton’s name was at the top of a shortlist for the Taiwan posting but that no decision had been made.

Because of the delicate nature of the information, the sources talked on condition that their names not be used.

But one source provided the Taipei Times with a copy of a report that was submitted to the State Department in the mid-1990s that claimed Stanton was excessively pro-China.

It is not clear what, if any, action was taken by the State Department as a result of complaints against Stanton while he was posted in Beijing.

The source said that Stanton, while stationed in Beijing in the mid-1990s, had impeded a series of cables critical of the Chinese government from being sent to the State Department in Washington.

The source said: “The common thread in all [of the cables] is criticism of one sort or another of the Chinese government.”

The source said that in 1995, following the much-celebrated Women’s Conference in Beijing Washington asked for a report on the impact of the conference on Chinese attitudes.

Stanton would not allow the report to be sent because it included details of Chinese press reports that attacked the conference, the source said.

“A pattern soon emerged where drafts critical of the Chinese government or leadership were regularly blocked from transmission,” said the report that was viewed by the Taipei Times.

Also in the report is an allegation that Stanton prevented Washington from receiving information from a Third World diplomat about Chinese military plans “with regard to Taiwan prior to presidential elections there.”

The 1996 presidential elections were preceded by the firing of Chinese missiles that landed in waters near Kaohsiung and Keelung.

It was further alleged that Stanton would not allow Washington to be told of the way Chinese officials were forcibly repatriating North Korean refugees.

The report also said that during a Fourth of July celebration at Washington’s embassy in Beijing, Stanton “ordered the papier mache construction of the Statue of Liberty to be placed in the backyard of the Chancery, away from the street, so as not to offend the sensitivities of the Chinese leadership, since apparently it might serve as a reminder for them of the Goddess of Democracy statue torn down in Tiananmen Square.”

A former senior US official said it would have been impossible for Stanton to block cables. Throughout Stanton’s career as a diplomat, he had made friends and, of course, enemies too, added the former official, who declined to be identified.
The Liberty Times actually had Stanton reported as formally appointed to the post the other day.

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Thomas said...

When I read this, that last quotation left me scratching my head. Is this insider saying he thinks Stanton has been maligned by enemies, and the nature of their smear is to say he is too cozy to China?

Anonymous said...

Do they ever have a candidate for these jobs where you can feel really good about it? What's so broken about the US foreign service system that these people never seem to be well-qualified?

You never hear about an AIT chairman that greatly improves relations between Taiwan and the US both in the public and private sector. What's the point of having someone antagonistic towards Taiwan stationed here? So they can make China happy?

Michael Turton said...

Anon, it drives me nuts too. There are exceptions, like Nat Bellochi and our current one, Steve Young.

Thomas, that's how I read it, which is why I highlighted it. You never know how institutional politics plays out, so it is important to keep in mind Stanton may be smeared.

Marc said...

Reuters seems to have picked up that Stanton is officially appointed in their March 26 wires.

Is it a little worrisome that there seems to be precious little info on Stanton on the Internet?

He seems to have been active on the issue of population growth. And he was a key diplomat in South Korea and Australia --two countries who are not best friends with Taiwan-- so,I wonder what qualifications Stanton has to serve in this post?

Anonymous said...

Diplomats come to Taiwan to do their job. Consider lucky that Mr Stanton is in Taiwan so Taiwan people can win his heart as they did with the hearts of many people who came to this pretty island.