Friday, September 16, 2011

US concerned about Taiwan candidate Tsai Ing-Wen: Possible

The Obama administration has warned that a victory by Tsai Ing-wen, the Taiwanese opposition leader, in the island’s January presidential election could raise tensions with China.

A senior US official said Ms Tsai, the Democratic Progressive party leader who is visiting Washington, had sparked concerns about stability in the Taiwan Strait, which is “critically important” to the US.

“She left us with distinct doubts about whether she is both willing and able to continue the stability in cross-Strait relations the region has enjoyed in recent years,” the official told the Financial Times after Ms Tsai met with administration officials.

The surprisingly blunt statement comes as the administration is about to notify Congress that it will help Taiwan retrofit its fleet of F-16 fighter jets. The move will anger China even though it is far short of Taipei’s long-running request for new fighters.

For decades the Taiwan Strait has been one of the world’s most dangerous potential flashpoints. While Taiwan has not been controlled by a Beijing-based government for over a century, China calls it an inseparable part of its territory and insists it must be unified eventually, with force if necessary. more