Sat, Jan 13, 2018 - Page 8 News List

Brandishing a double-edged sword

By John Lim 林泉忠

After Beijing’s unilateral launch of the M503 flight route, both the US Department of State and the American Institute in Taiwan expressed concern over China’s actions and US opposition to any unilateral action taken by either side of the Taiwan Strait aimed at changing the cross-strait “status quo.”

It is also worth noting that on Dec. 12 last year, US President Donald Trump signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) after it was approved by both houses of Congress. The passage of the NDAA will strengthen military exchanges between the US and Taiwan, and will allow Taiwan to maintain its self-defense capabilities. The act even provides a legal foundation that enables Taiwanese and US naval vessels to visit ports in each others’ countries.

As for Japan, since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office in 2012, his administration has adhered to a foreign affairs and national security strategy aimed at containing China, and an essential part of the strategy is to co-opt Taiwan.

From a Japanese perspective, changing the “status quo” in the Taiwan Strait is not in line with its national interest. The Japanese National Institute for Defense Studies China Security Report published in February last year clearly points to concerns over Taiwan’s self-defense capabilities. In addition, there is nearly no collaboration between Japan and Taiwan in terms of maintaining regional security.

If China’s push for gradual changes to the cross-strait “status quo” becomes more explicit, it could lead Japan and Taiwan to discuss opportunities for security collaboration within a framework of unofficial diplomatic relations.

How to formulate a mid to long-term timetable for this gradual change to the cross-strait relationship, including different stages and goals, as well as how to continuously make strategic adjustments to this timetable based on the results to lessen the potential double-edged effect will be Beijing’s focus from now on. This is also an issue that Taiwan must not ignore.

John Lim is an associate research fellow at Academia Sinica’s Institute of Modern History.

Translated by Chang Ho-ming

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