Taiwan's "democracy is considerably matured and liberal economics is deeply ingrained, so it is a law-abiding country," then Japanese foreign minister Taro Aso said in March last year, adding that "in various ways, it is a country that shares a sense of values with Japan."
Aso's comment to a parliamentary committee led Beijing to accuse Japan of "crude interference in its internal affairs" and prompted assurances by Tokyo that Aso's comments did not constitute a change in Japanese policy vis-a-vis China and Taiwan.
Slip of the tongue or not, Aso, who last week announced his candidacy to replace Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, had said something that could only please Taipei.
True, Aso has a tendency to glorify Japan's colonial past and a discomforting talent for making politically incorrect comments, but perhaps a firebrand like him is what is needed in the region, which is increasingly mired in the muck of a "status quo" that has only benefited China.
When it comes to Taiwan, the Tokyo-Beijing rapprochement engineered by Abe has not been to Taipei's benefit, and the "political correctness" Tokyo adopted on issues of resonance in Beijing -- Japan's war past and Taiwan, mostly -- only served to diminish the pressure on the Chinese leadership to change its antiquated view of the world.
There are already too many leaders who are willing to cozy up to Beijing -- and what good has that done Taiwan or Tibet, or the countless Chinese locked up in jail for seeking human rights?
Aso, perhaps, isn't such a leader, and therein lies a tremendous opportunity for Taiwan.
For, truth be told, Taiwan suffers from a severe case of Dutch Disease, the term political scientists use to describe a country that relies to such an extent on a single natural resource to function that once that resource expires or its proceeds are diverted, the country faces an existential threat. Diplomatically speaking, Taiwan is just like one of those states, but in this case the "resource," rather than being timber or oil, is the US, around whose political decisions Taiwan's fate seems to revolve.
The only way states suffering from Dutch Disease can improve their chances of survival is to diversify so that the removal of the primary resource would not engender a fall into chaos. Taiwan, therefore, should seek to diversify its allies, with a special focus on major powers -- like Japan, for example, which is not only an economic powerhouse capable of competing with China but also one that happens to have cultural affinities with Taiwan. And it is a regional power, perhaps even in its ascendancy in terms of political engagement and military clout.
By grooming leaders like Aso, Taiwan would substantially improve its odds of survival as a sovereign country in the advent of a US disengagement from the Taiwan Strait.
The US has been a good ally of Taiwan, but it is an ally that has numerous responsibilities around the globe and whose attention span is no match for Beijing's. Having the leaders of other major allies on its side, therefore, wouldn't hurt Taiwan.
Although there is no guarantee Aso will be Japan's next prime minister, wouldn't it be nice if, for once, President Chen Shui-bian (
The global chip shortage last year caused an unprecedented supply-chain crisis, affecting many key industries, including the auto industry. Europe, Japan and the US began to realize the indispensability and ubiquitous dominance of Taiwan’s semiconductor manufacturing industry. At the same time, amid the US-China trade war, Beijing’s military aggressions against Taiwan became increasingly blatant and provocative. In light of these developments, Europe, Japan and the US are formulating new policies to rebuild their domestic semiconductor manufacturing base, so as to mitigate the enormous geopolitical and economic risks involved. Last year, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) commanded 56 percent of the global
An April circular by the Chinese Ministry of Education on student admission criteria at Tibetan universities has been harrowing and discriminating to say the least. The circular said that prospective students must state their “political attitude and ideological morality” to be considered for admission. It also said that students should not be involved in religious movements and students who are proficient in Marxist theory should be preferred. Since Beijing started occupying Tibet, it has meticulously introduced policies to dismantle the Tibetan education system, which is closely tied to its rich monastic tradition, and has even pulled students from Afghanistan and eastern
Opinion polls show that Taiwan’s judicial system and law enforcement “enjoy” low approval ratings among Taiwanese. In spite of data showing low crime rates, many Taiwanese drivers have faced aggressive driving, unprovoked road rage, road blocking and unmotivated police officers. Some criminals seem to consider themselves above the law, which is not completely wrong. Reports about so-called “road blocking” can be found in newspapers or on YouTube. An example of this is when “road rowdies” block a vehicle on a road, get out of their vehicle and start to attack the occupants of the blocked vehicle — often attacking in a
When I was teaching in Lesotho in southern Africa during the 1980s, I taught a class on comparative foreign policy. The course included trips to the US embassy, the Soviet embassy, the British embassy and the newly established Chinese embassy. The students could ask the ambassadors and staff questions about foreign policy, and would then write a report as their final term paper. The Chinese ambassador felt that the US-style education I delivered was unique and invited me to go to China to teach. At the time, China was planning to open up to the world, and it needed professors versed