Wed, Dec 08, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Australia siding with China in the Pacific

By Yang Chih-heng楊志恆

Not long ago, Minister of Foreign Affairs Mark Chen (陳唐山) confirmed his deputy Michael Kau (高英茂) was taking on China's diplomats in Vanuatu. With the advantage of superior numbers, the Chinese are

monitoring the staff of Taiwan's

temporary embassy in the Le Meridien hotel in Vanuatu's capital. They have even eavesdropped on the Taiwanese diplomats' conversations, and have warned the hotel to lower Taiwan's national flag. Such conduct is repellent and clearly illustrates the evil face of China's diplomacy.

Backed by Vanuatuan Prime Minister Serge Vohor, Taiwan's flag is still flying in Port Vila. As for the question of how long such "dual recognition" will last, this will likely depend on the parliament's support for his decision.

In the latest round of this battle, China has mobilized a massive amount of resources to thwart Taiwan. The most obvious example is Australia's interference, with the Australian government attempting to defame Vohor for corruption in Vanuatu while threatening to cut off economic aid. At this crucial moment, Australia's move has helped China to interfere with diplomatic ties between Taiwan and Vanuatu.

Therefore, on Nov. 29, Chen summoned Australian Commerce and Industry Office Representative Frances Adamson, and told Canberra not to meddle in Taiwan-Vanuatu ties. China's purpose is very clear, and it will not give up until Vohor gives in.

Australia's behavior reminds one of unfriendly remarks made by Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer during his visit to Beijing in August, which seriously upset the Taiwanese public. In fact, Australia has gradually been changing its diplomatic strategy, shifting the focus from Europe to Asia ever since the mid-1990s. Apart from building relations with ASEAN, it also takes the improvement of Sino-Australian relations as an index, while China has become one of its major trade partners.

In light of the growing

economic and trade relations between the two, as well as Canberra's status as an important US ally in the Asian region, Beijing can restrain the US-Australia alliance by luring over the latter and preventing it from interfering if a war breaks out in the Taiwan Strait.

Moreover, through Australia's influence over the countries of Oceania, China can prevent Taiwan from extending its reach in the region. Beijing purposely appointed Fu Ying (傅瑩) -- a former director-general of the Department of Asian Affairs under the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs -- as ambassador to Australia in March.

It's clear that Beijing's diplomatic strategy toward Australia is more than what it seems. As expected, Australia is behind the entanglement of Taiwan-Vanuatu ties. And for Taiwan, there are now two enemies in this conflict.

Taiwan must continue this battle. The thing of primary interest is that Vohor hopes to maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan and China at the same time, a stance that deserves our recognition and support.

It is more feasible if we can begin a new phase by adopting such "dual recognition." We are unable to predict how long Vanuatu's "dual recognition" can stand up against China's pressure, but the longer the better.

On the other hand, if Taiwan really wants to push for Oceanian diplomacy in the future, it may have to strengthen its diplomatic relations with Australia, and in particular communicate with Canberra on the ideal of dual recognition. After all, it is unnecessary for Australia to interfere with Taiwan's diplomacy.

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