Think tank urges 'zero accident' policy for Taiwan, China and US

The National Committee on American Foreign Policy concluded the risk of conflict for the 2020 presidential election means all sides should `exercise restraint’

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President Tsai Ing-wen meeting a NCAFP delegation in 2016. (Photo: Office of the President)

President Tsai Ing-wen meeting a NCAFP delegation in 2016. (Photo: Office of the President)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A United States think tank has suggested Taiwan, China and the U.S. adopt “zero accident” policies to prevent conflict over the next two years.

The National Committee on American Foreign Policy, a New York-based non-partisan advisory organization, held a dialogue entitled Cross-Taiwan Strait Relations: Managing Triangular Dynamics on April 3-4. The forum concluded the risk of conflict across the Taiwan Strait will escalate in the run up to the 2020 Taiwan and U.S. presidential elections, therefore all parties should “exercise restraint” and “avoid surprises.”

Around 30 scholars and former government officials from Taiwan, China and the U.S. were invited to attend the closed-door meeting headed by Brookings Institute fellow Ryan Hass. Attendees included American Institute in Taiwan Chairman James Moriarty, the institute’s former chairman Raymond Burghardt, and Justin Yifu Lin, an economist who defected from Taiwan to China in the 1970s.

The report stated the U.S. representatives said the next two years will be particularly sensitive, and all parties should exercise restraint and find common understanding. Taiwan should refrain from enacting new laws or initiating referendums likely to provoke China, it said, and China should refrain from diplomatic, economic and military oppression of Taiwan.

The report advised China not to interfere in Taiwan’s domestic political affairs. The committee published a report of the dialogue on its website, on April 29.

The report said Washington should not expand the scope of visits by senior military officials to Taiwan. It should also uphold a policy of “transits” rather than visits from Taiwanese politicians.

The report stated that a Chinese participant said Beijing had lost all faith in President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), suggesting that some believe her to be “worse than Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).” They stressed she had antagonized China through external forces, by seeking a role in the U.S. Indo-Pacific strategy, for example.

China felt poaching Taiwan’s diplomatic allies and blocking Taiwan from participating in the World Health Organization, among other international fora, to be necessary, they said.

A U.S. participant said they believed China’s actions had backfired, and its position is “unjustified, selfish, and indefensible.” Compared with last year’s conference, the report indicates it focused more on William Lai (賴清德), Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) and other political candidates, rather than Tsai.