Saturday, January 31, 2009

Context is everything: Sutter at GWU

The Taipei Times today reported on Bob Sutter's words at a seminar on cross-strait relations at the Elliot School at GWU in Wash DC this week:
Robert Sutter, a professor with Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, made the remark at a seminar on cross-strait relations hosted by George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. Sutter bluntly said that the US could give up on Taiwan if it chose to align itself with China.

It remains to be seen whether other voices will echo the remarks made by Sutter, who once worked for the CIA and the US Department of State.

Formerly known for criticizing Taiwan for showing a lack of willingness to invest in self-defense, Sutter said that Ma’s policies had been well received in the US and that he sincerely wished Ma success.

But, he added, both the US and Taiwan should think about what would happen if the government’s policies failed.

Cross-strait relations are highly disproportional, Sutter said, adding that while some progress has been made in cross-strait economic and trade development, there have been no concessions on China’s part in the principles guiding its military, diplomatic and economic policies. While Taiwan has made a lot of concessions, it has not received a proportional response from China, Sutter said. The Ma government needs to let China see that it has backup plans in the event Beijing does not make any concessions, he said.

The new US government needs to reassess the country’s relations with Taiwan, Sutter said. He asked what the US would do if Taiwan leans toward China and discrepancies occur between the strategic goals of the US and Taiwan.

Saying that, as a superpower, the US does not need Taiwan, Sutter told the seminar that if Taiwan thought it did not need help from the US, the US could take up Taiwan issues with Japan, or even China.
These were Sutter's words, but the context is everything, and I am still digesting reports from people who were there -- Rigger's analysis was surprisingly good, and I also hope to have Don Roger's presentation for my blog too. More tomorrow when I have a clearer picture.

Sutter, Rigger, it doesn't matter who is presenting. The problem with asking questions about "Ma's cross-strait policy" is that Ma isn't making the KMT's cross-strait decisions, the KMT Old Guard is.

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