美国之音VOA卫视6月22日在华盛顿独家专访了美国在台协会主席薄瑞光大使(Ambassador Raymond Burghardt)。薄瑞光在这次专访中谈到了目前台海局势、美台关系等一系列范围广泛的敏感议题。以下是采访全文的中文翻译以英文实录。
薄瑞光：很荣幸成为代表团的成员，我们派出了很强大的代表团，我们的代表团由前美国贸易代表罗恩·柯克（Ron Kirk）和前副国务卿和国家情报总监约翰·内格罗蓬特（John Negroponte）率领，贸易关系和安全关系在任何关系中都是很重要的两个方面，所以我们在这两边派出了很资深的代表。在马英九总统任期的最后一天，我们与他会面，我们赞扬了马英九总统在他8年的任期中极大改善美台关系，同时我们也十分赞赏马总统在稳定两岸关系的问题上所取得的进展。我们相信两岸关系的稳定为我们在美台关系上取得的进步提供了重要的政治空间。所以那是一次很真诚的会谈，也是他最后的官方会面之一。之后在同一天，也就是就职典礼的前一天，蔡英文总统邀请我们代表团，我们五个人，去她的私人住所吃午餐并且会谈，那次会面持续了两个半小时。我要说，这种非常友善的姿态很大程度上象征了美国和台湾之间关系的重要性。之后我们在20号参加了就职典礼的活动。
VOA: Thank you very much Ambassador Burghardt for sitting with us today, and as we know, two days from now, Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen will transit in Miami on her way to Panama and will stop over in Los Angeles on her return, and we know you are going to greet her in Los Angeles. So what are you going to talk about with her?
Ambassador Burghardt: Well, as you know these are transits, they’re not really visits, or official visits, they’re mostly to enable the Taiwan president to make the trip with convenience and to do refueling on the plane, things like that. The trips are useful for us to have a conversation with the Taiwan president, and also riding around in the car with people like the National Security Advisor and the Foreign Minister. We have lots of issues to talk about. I know people, your audience, are probably most interested in cross strait relations issues, but I think they should also understand that the United States and Taiwan, although we have an unofficial relationship, we have a lot of business to do with each other. Taiwan’s an important player in the world economy, it’s our ninth largest trading partner, which is extraordinary for an island of twenty three million people. We have more trade with Taiwan than we do with Italy or Brazil or India or other places that are enormously larger countries. Lots of American investment in Taiwan, lots of Taiwan investment in the United States, we have lots of trade investment issues to talk about, we cooperate on a lot of things around the world, public health issues, helping refugees in the Middle East. So we have lots of things to talk about that may not necessarily have anything to do with China.
VOA: But among all the issues, in your opinion, what are the most urgent ones that need to reach a mutual understanding between Taiwan and the United States at this very moment?
Ambassador Burghardt: We don’t necessarily have any urgent issues right away. As in any relationship there are issues that, in many cases, go on from year to year and you make progress on them, and you hopefully keep moving them forward, so that’s all I’ll say about that.
VOA: On May 20 President Tsai Ing-wen was sworn in. And you were a member of the U.S. delegation to Tsai Ing-wen’s inauguration, so what did you do in Taiwan?
Ambassador Burghardt: Well that was a great honor to be part of that delegation and we had a strong delegation, led by our former U.S. Trade Representative, Ron Kirk, and by our former Deputy Secretary of State, and Director of National Intelligence, John Negroponte. So, you know trade relations, security relations are some of two key aspects of any relationship, and so we had very senior, former figures from both sides. On President Ma Ying-jeou’s last day in office we met with him and we complimented President Ma on the great improvements in U.S.-Taiwan relations over the eight years of his term. We also very much complimented President Ma on the progress he had made in stabilizing cross-strait relations and we have always believed that stability of cross-strait relations was, in fact provided an important basis for political space, you can say, for the progress that we made between Taiwan and the United States as well. So that was a very cordial meeting, and one of his last official meetings. We then, that very same day, the day before the inauguration, President Tsai invited our delegation of five to her private residence for a lunch, a meeting, that went on for two and a half hours and I would say that that very kind gesture very much I think sort of symbolized the importance that U.S.-Taiwan ties have. And then we attended the inaugural activities on the 20th.
VOA: In her inaugural speech President Tsai Ing-wen did not explicitly recognize the so-called “1992 Consensus” nor the “One China Policy”, neither did she deny it. So many are saying that Tsai Ing-wen was deliberately muddying the waters, do you agree?
Ambassador Burghardt: I think that she showed a fair amount of flexibility in what she said. If you compare her remarks with the earlier remarks she made here in Washington she took a few steps forward. I think, you know, this is an issue in which flexibility, creativity, are important, I think, have always been important, not just now, but have always been important for both sides of the strait, and frankly a certain amount of ambiguity has always been important for both sides of the strait. There was a lot of ambiguity in the understandings reached between the Ma administration and China as well, and probably a lot of muddy waters there, too, but it worked.
VOA: So do you expect the way she handles cross strait affairs and the tone with which she talks about sensitive topics will change in the future as a president?
Ambassador Burghardt: Look, we’ve gone through, we’ve had an election period, people make a lot of strong statements during election periods, we had the transition period in between, and now she’s been inaugurated. This is an important period for both sides, for both Beijing and Taipei, to carefully watch each other’s actions and statements. I think I’m not going to predict exactly what Tsai Ing-wen is going to say tomorrow or a month from now and I don’t know what she’s going to say. But I think that it’s very important for both Beijing and Taipei to keep open minds, and very important to maintain communication. One of the things that we prized, we the United States prized very much after Ma Ying-jeou took office was the restoration of regular communication across the strait. If the two sides are talking to each other, if they have that communication that means that miscommunication, misunderstanding, miscalculation, can all be avoided. And the lack of that communication was something that sometimes made us nervous during the Chen Shui-bian period. So that’s why it’s important to not lose that, and so I hope that Beijing also understands that and wants to continue communicating, because nothing is going to be fixed without continued communication and nothing’s going to continue without it.
VOA: Recently, as you’ve just mentioned, we noticed that talks across the strait have been suspended, and obviously after Tsai Ing-wen took office cross strait relationship is not as warm as it was under Ma Ying-jeou’s administration. Are you worried that cross strait relationship will return to the tough period under Chen Shui-bian’s administration?
Ambassador Burghardt: I think it’s unfortunate that Beijing decided to discontinue or to suspend the talks. As I said, communication’s important. I think Chinese do seem to have good way of figuring out how to communicate with each other, whether publically or not. So, I hope that the two sides can find some way to continue communicating, I think that’s very important.
VOA: Speaking of that tough period, you were the U.S. representative in Taipei when Chen Shui-bian was elected president and took office.
Ambassador Burghardt: That’s right.
VOA: So as far as we know, you helped ease tensions in those days, so what did you do and what lessons can we learn from your experience in all of this?
Ambassador Burghardt: During the period between President Chen’s election and his inauguration we met many times, and we talked about how he was going to deal with the mainland and we talked about other issues, I don’t know if it helped. I had just come from Shanghai, and so in Shanghai I had a very good relationship with Wang Daohan, and I had met with him many, many times and so I had a pretty good understanding of how China saw the issues, so I was able to share with President Chen some of that experience and background.
VOA: Do you see the current hostile noncontact thing as becoming a source of miscalculation which could even lead to military conflicts in that region?
Ambassador Burghardt: We’re not at a crisis stage. I think we’re at a stage where there’s a lot of watching each other, and listening to each other. And I think that with good will, the two sides should be able to find a way to continue to communicate. I hope there is good will on both sides.
VOA: Will the current situation in the cross strait drive the increase in U.S. arms sales to Taiwan this year and the years to come?
Ambassador Burghardt: Our decisions on arms sales, our decisions on training for the Taiwan military, or on consultations with them is not driven by events that occur from year to year. It occurs according to very long range and long term interaction between our two militaries, looking at Taiwan’s long term analyses, what Taiw an’s needs are, over a long period of years. It doesn’t react to that way, to current events.
VOA: Tsai Ing-wen has promised that Taiwan will assist in the U.S. strategy of the pivot to Asia. So more specifically speaking, how could Taiwan assist the United States in this regard?
Ambassador Burghardt: The pivot to Asia is often misunderstood. The main thing about the pivot, or the rebalancing, is simply to pay more attention to Asia, essentially at the beginning that’s what it really meant, to pay less attention to the Middle East and more attention to Asia, because Asia is frankly more important to our interests and has a better future ahead of it, so that’s what it really is all about. There are aspects of that that relate to economic and trade relations, to the security relationship, just the United States simply showing up more at meetings in Asia and giving it more attention, our leadership giving Asia more attention, that’s what the rebalancing and pivot is really all about. How does Taiwan fit in? Well, Taiwan is, as I said, a very important trade partner, improving our trade relationship with Taiwan, Taiwan is an important part of the supply chain for manufacturing in Asia, so there are many issues we work on with Taiwan, dealing with trade issues and trade policy issues, all of which fit into the rebalancing. And I would also say, maintaining stability across the Taiwan Strait, and maintaining stability of course has a number of aspects to it, including maintaining a deterrent capability. All of that is part of Taiwan’s role. If you want to say that Taiwan has a role to contribute toward our overall goal, which is a stable and productive and prosperous Asia Pacific region, I would say that part of Taiwan’s role is to keep the strait peaceful.
VOA: Also we’ve seen the recent rising tension in the South China Sea, and on this issue Taiwan, China, United States, are all stakeholders, so from the U.S. perspective what kind of role should Taiwan play on this matter?
Ambassador Burghardt: Look, we don’t have any sort of specific request of Taiwan, we look toward all parties involved to resolve this issue in a peaceful way, to avoid actions which exacerbate tensions, to be clear about what their claims are and what they’re not. All of those are contributions which any of the parties could make, including Taiwan.
VOA: When we think about U.S. policy on Taiwan we have to take into consideration that the United States is undergoing a presidential election right now, so how could the domestic political climate impact the U.S. policy on Taiwan and do you foresee any significant change in U.S.-Taiwan policy under either the Hillary administration or Donald Trump administration?
Ambassador Burghardt: One of the things that’s quite remarkable is that U.S., not just policy toward Taiwan, but U.S.-Asia policy in general has been one of the most strongly bipartisan aspects of U.S. policy either domestic or foreign. It has very little variation from Democratic to Republican administrations. Slight little shifts of emphasis, but overall there’s great continuity and you even see that among personnel sometimes in the administration, so I would be very surprised if there were any significant changes in U.S.-Asia policy or in U.S. policy regarding Taiwan regardless of who wins the presidency in November.
VOA: You have a long history of involvement with Taiwan, you’ve worked with both the DPP administration and the KMT administration. Does it feel different to deal with these two different parties?
Ambassador Burghardt: Not really. I mean we talk about the same issues and same things. Different personalities, different people, different emphasis. The KMT, particularly under Ma Ying-jeou, had a great interest in the Republic of China’s history--ROC history, its contribution during the WWII, those kind of things. These are not things fundamentally important to our relationship, but there are things that we noticed these administrations are interested in, so that whole historical narrative is important for KMT. In the case of the DPP, it’s the emergence of democracy on Taiwan, and the fight for democracy on Taiwan. That’s their historical narrative, but those are more sort of the background painting of the relationship rather than the core of the relationship. The economic issues, the trade issues and the security issues, Taiwan’s place in the world, helping Taiwan with its place in the world, helping Taiwan to continue to be able to have the ability to determine its own future, all of those key policy goals really don’t change.
VOA: Prior to becoming the director of the AIT, you served as a counsel general in Shanghai, would you please share some historical background of the “1992 Consensus”, which is a very important issue right now.
Ambassador Burghardt: It’s important to remember, I think everyone in China knows, the term 1992 consensus was not used by anyone until 2001, no, 2000. Su Qi, President Ma’s first national security advisor was the first person to use that term, to describe the understanding that had been reached in 1992, before that, I mean, in all the times that I met with Wang Daohan or Koo Chen-fu, they never called it that, they never called it the 1992 consensus, because the name didn’t exist. Koo Chen-fu would sometime just call it 1992 Understanding.
VOA: Would you please share some stories about how you worked with Wang Daohan back in those days?
Ambassador Burghardt: He was a wonderful man, both Wang Daohan and Koo Chen-fu were, sort of, Chinese of an earlier generation, very refined people with the deep understanding of Chinese culture and history and art, who would love to talk to you about any of those subjects, probably just as happy talking to you about Chinese porcelains from Ming Dynasty, as talking to you about cross-strait relations. It was very enjoyable personally to know them both on that kind of basis. I would say the other thing that was very interesting to us was that Wang Daohan had a very close relationship with Jiang Zemin, so we came to realize that we could sometimes solve issues by simply talking to Wang Daohan about them. That included negotiations over the bilateral US-China negotiations over China’s WTO accession, the arrangements for President Clinton’s 1998 visit to China. When we got frustrated negotiating in Beijing, we would turn to Wang Daohan, and if we reached an agreement, he would say “ok, woqutongtian”. I’ll go touch heaven, and we knew what that meant, that he would going to meet with Jiang Zemin, and then the problem was solved, and the Foreign Ministry in Beijing never knew what happened.
VOA: That’s very different from the workstyle of the Taiwan administration, right?
Ambassador Burghardt: No, I don't know, I think it’s the Chinese work style.
VOA: Looking back to 1996, from the first presidential election in Taiwan to the present, what have you seen in Taiwan in terms of the development of democracy, and any other long term change that is really setting in?
Ambassador Burghardt: I think the people of Taiwan, deserve a great deal of credit for the development of democracy in Taiwan, it shows not only did Taiwan have developed economically, but also developed politically. We see that not only in having free elections, but also in a very free press, sometimes rather wild press, but it is a free press. We see development of a civil society, whether it’s labor unions, women’s organizations, youth organizations, groups of all kinds in Taiwan, NGOs, they are free, they don’t have to belong to some kind of party controlled network or framework, they are free to express the views of their members. And I think Taiwan should be very proud of that, what we just saw in Taiwan in terms of the election and inauguration, was the third time that Taiwan has switched from one political party to another, and that’s the ultimate test of whether you have a democracy. And what we also saw, and we heard from both sides, from both the KMT and DPP, was that the transition, had worked pretty smoothly, there are always some tensions, but basically it was smooth, the outgoing administration cooperated, briefed the new incoming administration, shared documents, shared secrets, that is the real test of a democratic system, and it worked pretty well, and it worked better than last time, and last time worked better than the time before, so that’s progress.
VOA: When we look ahead, and think about the future of the relationship between Taiwan and China, there have been talks about the possible models, such as EU model or Finland model, what is your thought on this?
Ambassador Burghardt: I remember my former boss, Winston Lord, was ambassador in Beijing when I was there, he said that Americans are not smart enough to be able to figure out how the Chinese on the two side of the strait should work out their relationship with each other, I think that wisdom still applies. You know, we made a commitment to Taiwan in 1982, we made several commitments, but among them was, we would not try to mediate, and we would not pressure Taiwan in anyway on negotiation with the Mainland. And I think those were good commitments, I think those were commitments that probably Beijing wouldn’t have any argument with. Again, going back to your question about 1992 consensus, whether it’s the 1992 Understanding of Koo Chen-fu or the 1992 Consensus, or some other formula, it’s not our business, to have an opinion on that. The formula that the two sides use in order to be able to have talks, that’s something that they have to figure out. It’s something that’s inherently embedded in the history of relations between Taiwan and the Mainland, and the whole history of the Chinese Civil War, and so it would be inappropriate for the US try to get involved in that negotiation process, or to have an opinion about one formula or another.
VOA: Thank you very much Ambassador.