Sat, Jan 21, 2012 - Page 8 News List

What can Taiwan do for the US?

By Parris Chang 張旭成

Recently US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said that terrorism, nuclear proliferation and other threats demanded a shared response. The Pentagon is facing at least US$450 billion in budget cuts over the next 10 years, and he is calling for allies to share the military burden. On Jan. 5, Obama issued the latest US Defense Strategic Guidance and the AIT gave government officials in the National Security Council, Foreign Ministry and Defense Ministry a detailed and formal briefing the following day.

The new guidance signals a renewed US emphasis on East Asia, underlies a heightened commitment to security in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as a desire to strengthen political, economic and military cooperation with its allies, including Taiwan.

How will the government respond to and interact with the new US strategy? Is Taiwan willing and able to offer “host regional support” or other forms of burden-sharing to ensure and sustain the US’ security presence in East Asia? Will Ma continue to tilt toward China, at the expense of Taiwan’s relations with other key democratic countries in the region, such as the US and Japan?

Now that Ma has been re-elected, he must make a choice. Economically, Taiwan’s over-dependence on China is dangerous, even without political complications. To redress the imbalance, the nation must strengthen trade and investment connections with the US and India. If Taiwan chooses to stand with the community of democratic nations, it must foster economic and security cooperation with like-minded friends and nations.

As an island and a responsible international stakeholder, Taiwan must work closely with the US and other democratic friends in the region to safeguard security and freedom of navigation in the South China Sea and all the waterways surrounding Taiwan, and to settle disputes through peaceful means and on the basis of international law.

Parris Chang is a professor of general education at Toko University and the chief executive of the Taiwan Institute of Political, Economic and Strategic Studies.

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