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September 21, 2017

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Restraint needed over Taioyutais: ex-AIT chief

A visiting former American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) head yesterday urged all countries involved in the recent sovereignty disputes regarding the Tiaoyutai Islands to engage in self-restraint to avoid conflicts from escalating and instead find ways to cooperate.

"I can understand the strong feeling of various countries toward the issue," ex-AIT Chairman Richard Bush told media yesterday in Taipei when asked to comment on the recent diplomatic row involving Taiwan, China and Japan; all of whom claim the island chain their territory.

"But at the same time I think the dispute is getting in the way of countries who share interests from cooperating with each other," he added.

He noted that all parties involved should try to manage the dispute so that it won't become "too emotional" so that concerned countries could focus on joint research, development to cooperation in other areas.

Asked to give suggestions on how to maintain regional stability, the former U.S. senior official urged all claimants to conduct self-restraint to avoid conflict.

Any incident between Chinese vessels and the Japanese coast guard could send the situation spiraling out of control, he noted.

All governments concerned should also work harder together to come up with methods to deal with the situation based on common interests, he said.

Bush, who previously served as AIT chairman from 1997 to 2002, is currently a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and director of its Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies.

He is visiting Taipei to promote his new book on China-Japan security relations.

Commenting on the Tokyo's recent move in nationalizing three small islets in the disputed islands, Bush said yesterday that he could only say that the situation could be "much worse" if it was Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara instead of the Japanese government who ultimately bought the islets.

"He (Ishihara) is a good governor but he is also a nationalist. If he succeeded (in buying the Tiaoyutais) we surely will see much more conflict and that will make people in Hong Kong and China very angry," he noted.

Ma's Peace Initiative 'constructive': Bush

Commenting on President Ma Ying-jeou's recent peace initiative in the East China Sea, Bush said it is a "constructive" suggestion and would be helpful for regional stability "if anybody is listening."

He said that President Ma's proposal aims to continue Taiwan's claim over Tiaoyutais while at the same time focusing on what is really important: "maintaining peace, stability and suggesting countries concerned to find ways to make the situation better."

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