Senegal broke its diplomatic ties with Taiwan and recognized China for the third time on Oct. 25. The root cause of this diplomatic setback is Taiwan's withdrawal from the UN on Oct. 25, 1971, when Resolution 2758 was passed by the General Assembly, withdrawing recognition of the Republic of China as the legitimate government of China, and recognizing the People's Republic of China. Ever since suffering this setback Taiwan has had difficulties establishing stable multilateral and bilateral relationships with other countries.
The number of the nation's diplomatic allies plunged to 22 in 1988 from 68 in 1970. While Chinese National Party (KMT) Legislator John Chiang (章孝嚴) was serving as minister of foreign affairs between 1996 and April 1997, three nations cut ties with Taiwan, while two nations established diplomatic relations.
Given the nation's current circumstances, it is unfair to criticize the foreign ministry over Senegal's break with us. As ministry officials have long been fighting an uphill battle, we should give them our support.
Over the past few years, Taiwan has actually been making progress in its unofficial diplomatic relations with the US and Japan, both of which play the most important role in the nation's security and development.
Last May, Washington and Tokyo openly supported the nation's bid to join the WHO. Earlier this year, the US' and Japan's foreign and defense ministers held "two plus two" bilateral talks that established cross-strait peace to be a "common strategic objective." This effort indicates that both nations value the cross-strait equilibrium and support Taiwan's participation in the international community.
Moreover, new policies have emerged for maintaining diplomatic ties with our allies. China's growing economic power, as well as Taiwan's democratization, which has made government finances more transparent and institutionalized, limits the extent by which the government can allocate funds for foreign aid. Undisclosed budgets are fast becoming a thing of the past.
In response to these circumstances, the government recently proposed the Jung Pang Project (榮邦專案), which aims to coordinate non-governmental resources to invest in our Central American allies. The project will leverage the Central American free trade zone's access to the North American Free Trade Agreement, allowing products made by Taiwan-invested firms to enjoy the benefits of tariff-free access to North America.
If the project is effectively implemented, it will engender a cluster effect. In addition, if enterprises adopt the right corporate and market strategies, the project will create a win-win situation for the government, enterprises and our diplomatic allies. And as it will be the Taiwan-invested companies that decide how the money is spent, rather than members of allied governments, this project is more likely to win popular support in Taiwan.
I believe that if the project succeeds, it will create a great deal of employment, improve technological development and revenues for our allies, and help cement our relations with them.
Hsieh Min-chieh is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at National Chung Cheng University.
TRANSLATED BY DANIEL CHENG