Chinese leader will be low-key about Taiwan at 19th Congress: U.S. scholars

China might try to lure away more Taiwan allies after congress: Romberg

Former AIT Director Douglas Paal.

Former AIT Director Douglas Paal. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Chinese leader Xi Jinping (習近平) will keep Taiwan low-key at the upcoming 19th Congress of the Communist Party, but the island could lose a few more of its allies, top academics in the United States said Friday.

Former American Institute in Taiwan Director Douglas Paal and director of the East Asia Program at the Stimson Center Alan Romberg were among the speakers at a Carnegie Endowment for International Peace discussion about the congress, which opens in Beijing on October 18.

Xi would keep the subject of Taiwan at a low and “cool-headed” level and was unlikely to seek escalation, Paal was reported by the Central News Agency as saying. As to Xi’s next meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump after the congress, both sides were likely to repeat their well-known views, with the Chinese leader mentioning unification and the U.S. side talking about the Taiwan Relations Act, Paal said.

Romberg, a veteran diplomat with experience in Taiwan, said that once the congress over, Xi would, contrary to some expectations, not show a more flexible position, but might even try to lure away more of the island nation’s 20 remaining official diplomatic allies.

Earlier this year, Panama switched recognition to Beijing in a move which shocked Taiwan and raised fears of a domino effect.