In the months leading to the March 20 presidential election, contending political leaders have intensified the already highly acrimonious partisan wrangling and mudslinging that have allowed for little progress on issues of substantive benefit for the overall security and well being of the Tai-wanese in the last few years. While these leaders maneuver for short-term gain in the domestic political arena, the cross-strait balance of power and the overall international balance of influence affecting the nation's future ominously and unrelentingly moves against democratic Taiwan. \nChina has markedly advanced its already advantageous position in international affairs since the 1970s, when the PRC replaced the Republic of China on Taiwan (ROC) in the UN, scores of countries switched recognition from Taipei to Beijing, and the US cut its diplomatic, defense and other official ties with Taiwan for the sake of normalizing relations with China. \nBeijing is more determined than ever to isolate Taiwan from official international interchange as part of a broader effort to press Taiwan's government to come to terms on unification in ways acceptable to China. \nAn important opportunity for Taiwan came with the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union -- developments that seemed to end the main reason why the US and some other Western powers felt impelled to cut back ties with Taiwan for the sake of improving relations with China in seeking a broader united front against the USSR. \nThe concurrent Tiananmen crackdown shocked the US and much of the rest of the world, prompting sanctions and pressures on Beijing from various quarters. Taiwan's moves toward greater democracy after the ending of martial law in 1987 also received widespread praise and positive media attention. Arguably Taiwan should have been able to make substantial diplomatic and foreign policy gains in this new international environment, but its showing was poor as the reality saw few countries willing to confront China over the "Taiwan issue." \nChina's economic prowess grew markedly in the 1990s; the China market now far outshines Taiwan's struggling economy; if international actors are forced to choose, they generally choose to side with Beijing. Even many businesspeople in Taiwan have come to similar judgments, assessing that their interests are best served by cooperation with the rapidly growing Chinese economy. \nEconomic strength has fed military strength, while the end of the USSR meant that Beijing could focus more on coastal threats and especially the danger of Taiwan moving toward independence -- an anathema to Beijing that appeared increasingly likely under the leadership of former president Lee Teng-hui (李光耀) and President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁). \nThe result is an increasingly rapid buildup of military forces designed to improve Chinese power projection capabilities to coerce Taiwan. US President George W. Bush's administration was more supportive of Taiwan than the previous US administration -- representing one of the few bright spots on Taipei's foreign horizon. \nPrevailing conditions, notably US power and purpose, sustain a balance in the Taiwan Strait and in East Asia that for now preserves stability and buys some time for Taiwan. Perhaps because they take US support for granted, Tai-wanese leaders of various political camps have seemed less attentive to solidifying relations with the Bush administration, the US government most supportive of Tai-wan in over 30 years. They have focused instead on domestic political maneuvers, cross-strait relations and foreign affairs that have included criticisms of US policies and behavior, and actions in cross-strait relations and trade relations that have complicated US interests and Taipei's relations with the US. \nSuch an approach might appear acceptable if Taiwan had the power and influence to sustain an independent posture in the face of the unrelenting power and influence of China, but a sober assessment of its steadily diminishing standing in world affairs would appear to provide Taipei over the longer term with little choice other than to consolidate relations with the US or to choose accommodation with Beijing. \nThe arguments against the former course are many. Most notably it would: force Taiwan's leaders to curb rhetoric and actions seen in the US as disturbing cross-strait stability sought by US leaders, press Taiwanese authorities to take more substantive actions including increased military spending to support defense efforts sought by Washington to complement increased US defense efforts to deter China from attacking Taiwan and push Taiwan's leaders to deal more forthrightly with US complaints over trade issues. \nTaiwan also has no assurance that a future US government might not reverse course in cross-strait relations, as has happened in the past. \nIt is precisely with that outcome in mind that Taiwan's leaders should be taking steps now to consolidate ties with a friendly US administration rather than continually irritate US leaders with political, military and other moves that may provoke a positive response in domestic politics but work against long-term US-Taiwan relations. \nTaiwan's leaders should have some assurance that once they improve their relationship with the Bush administration and set precedents of closer US-Taiwan relations, these precedents will prove hard to reverse. In particular, the US Congress, media and interest groups that have long been friendly to Taiwan can be expected to resist a reversal in relations. \nCongress and these other groups have a hard time under the division of powers in the US Constitution to initiate steps forward in US relations with Taiwan, but Congress is much better positioned to block a reversal of existing relations. \nRobert Sutter is a professor of Asian studies in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.
At the end of last month, Paraguayan Ambassador to Taiwan Marcial Bobadilla Guillen told a group of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators that his president had decided to maintain diplomatic ties with Taiwan, despite pressure from the Chinese government and local businesses who would like to see a switch to Beijing. This followed the Paraguayan Senate earlier this year voting against a proposal to establish ties with China in exchange for medical supplies. This constituted a double rebuke of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) diplomatic agenda in a six-month span from Taiwan’s only diplomatic ally in South America. Last year, Tuvalu rejected an
With its passing of Hong Kong’s new National Security Law, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) continues to tighten its noose on Hong Kong. Gone is the broken 1997 promise that Hong Kong would have free, democratic elections by 2017. Gone also is any semblance that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) plays the long game. All the CCP had to do was hold the fort until 2047, when the “one country, two systems” framework would end and Hong Kong would rejoin the “motherland.” It would be a “demonstration-free” event. Instead, with the seemingly benevolent velvet glove off, the CCP has revealed its true iron
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As Taiwan is engulfed in worries about Chinese infiltration, news reports have revealed that power inverters made by China’s Huawei Technologies Co are used in the solar panels on the top of the Legislative Yuan’s Zhenjiang House (鎮江會館) on Zhenjiang Street in Taipei. However, what is even more worrying is that Taiwan’s new national electronic identification card (eID) has been subcontracted to the French security firm and eID maker Idemia, which has not only cooperated with the Chinese Public Security Bureau to manufacture eIDs in China, but also makes the new identification cards being issued in Hong Kong. There might be more