Sat, Aug 12, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Bullying by Beijing lets Taiwanese see truths

By Li Hua-chiu 李華球

On the eve of Premier Su Tseng-chang's (蘇貞昌) departure for Chad, the African state declared that it was severing diplomatic relations with Taiwan. This was the second major diplomatic setback for Su, who was prevented from attending the presidential inauguration in Haiti in May for the same reason. This is the result of pressure from China, and merits further analysis.

First, there is the elimination of Taiwan's diplomatic room. China is blocking Taiwan's diplomatic efforts through a three-pronged policy. This aims at removing Taiwan's diplomatic allies, blocking Taiwan's participation in international politics by interfering in its relations with non-diplomatic allies and removing the country's leverage by blocking its participation in international organizations and destroying its geopolitical value.

China's main goal is to use this strategy to prevent Taiwan from obtaining foreign aid and support for independence. China's quick moves on the Chad question were part of its regular method of reducing Taiwan's international visibility, isolating it and confronting pro-independence sentiment.

Second is the attempt to obstruct Taiwan's oil strategy. Taiwan has used its diplomatic relationship with Chad to build an oil strategy aimed at preventing a domestic oil crisis that would lead to rising prices and threaten economic stability. Another goal of Taipei's strategy is to create benefits on several levels by expanding it to the diplomatic arena and thus expanding Taiwan's diplomatic room to maneuver. The severing of diplomatic relations between Taiwan and Chad is clear evidence that China is aware of Taiwan's intentions.

In recent years, China has been actively pursuing a strategy of diversifying its oil supply lines. To this end it has built strategic relationships with Russia and Kazakhstan. It will then work to set up energy cooperation guidelines and build oil pipelines directly to China to be able to guarantee a secure oil supply. This would complete the first stage of China's oil strategy. It is therefore not surprising that China would have Chad sever its diplomatic ties with Taiwan, and there is nothing Taiwan can do about it.

Third, there is the use of an "economic opium" strategy to force an opening up of Taiwan to China. Because of China's diplomatic pressure, Taiwan now has only 24 diplomatic allies. China has grasped that these countries maintain relations with Taiwan for economic reasons. It therefore often puts up large amounts of money to further harm Taiwan's diplomatic situation.

Although the government is adopting an "active management, effective opening" policy, the fact that it is restricted or cannot find good investment opportunities abroad means that it must deregulate the most fundamental aspects of Taiwan's economy and trade. These include innovative technologies, advanced management knowledge and practical experiences in the semiconductor industry, high value-added agricultural products, digital information, finance and insurance and the biomedical industries.

These are all key to China's becoming a major global market. Taiwan has already entered that market, but will it be able to extract itself from it?

The strengthening of China is the beginning of a weakening Taiwan. This is the goal of China's economic strategy, which aims to pull Taiwan closer before attacking its diplomatic relations and forcing it to dance to China's tune.

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