TAIWAN: Media reports concern, congrats on Obama's election

Taiwan's politicians uncertain about how President-elect Obama's U.S.-Taiwan policy will unfold

By Eric Ku
AsiaMedia Staff Writer

Monday, November 10, 2008

Last Tuesday, Americans elected Barack Hussein Obama as the 44th President of the United States of America, and while Taiwanese welcomed his election, they were also concerned about the future U.S. foreign policy toward Taiwan.

With the Democratic Party also securing majority seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, Taiwan is reminded of the last Democrat administration's foreign policy, led by former President Bill Clinton. Clinton's "three no's" policy regarding cross-Taiwan Strait issues declared no U.S. support for Taiwan's independence, for "one Taiwan, one China," and for Taiwan's membership in international organizations. According to Taiwan's Central News Agency (CNA), legislators from pro-Taiwan independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) anticipate Obama's administration will put pressure on "nativist parties." In the CNA report, Kuan Bi-ling, deputy whip of the DPP, said "The Republicans have leaned more toward Taiwan, while the Democrats have leaned more toward China."

Although Obama showed no opposition toward the decision made by President George W. Bush administration to cancel a deal for the United States to sell Taiwan F-16 fighter aircrafts or diesel-electric submarines as part of a $6.5 billion arms package, according to a Taipei Times report Obama also called the arms package "an important response to Taiwan's defense needs... The sale helps to contribute to Taiwan's defense and the maintenance of a healthy balance in the Taiwan Strait."

Nonetheless, Taiwanese politicians from both parties, DPP and Kuomintang, have congratulated Obama on his victory. According to an official Ministry of Foreign Affairs press release, Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou "extended his gratitude to the president-elect for his friendship and support of Taiwan-US relations and Taiwan's newest cross-strait policies." Also, CNA reported Tsai Ing-wen, chairperson of the DPP, saying, "I would expect that the relationship between Taiwan and the U.S. as well as the relationship between China and the U.S. will be better managed."