Mon, Jun 06, 2011 - Page 8 News List

Overseas trips are electoral test

By Liu Shih-chung 劉世忠

In that case, the US will definitely push Tsai to offer “strategic reassurance” on the cross-strait situation. Whether Tsai should follow in Chen’s footsteps by promising Washington several “noes” — as he did in his 2000 presidential campaign — constitutes the greatest challenge to her planned trip to the US. Moreover, as Tsai’s chances of unseating Ma increase, Washington will be on full alert to the cross-strait situation, especially on how Beijing might react to a potential DPP return.

Ma also has the foreign policy card to play in reaction to Tsai’s manipulation of overseas visits. In his capacity as the president, Ma is forbidden to travel to Washington.

However, he could incorporate the “transit” card on the east coast of the US if there is a need to downplay Tsai’s trip to the US capital. Vice President Vincent Siew’s (蕭萬長) recent transit in New York City could be interpreted as paving the way for Ma’s possible “transit.”

In sum, Tsai stands a better chance than Ma to build up a fresh international image as Taiwan’s next president and possibly the first female president in East Asia. However, she will have to present herself as more than just a new face. She will need a clear and detailed agenda.

Liu Shih-chung is a senior research fellow at the Taipei-based Taiwan Brain Trust.

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