Tue, May 29, 2018 - Page 8 News List

Do not sweat the diplomatic allies

By Ben Goren

Of the net five allies lost between 1990 and 2012, eight were ceded between 2000 and 2012, and another five since then, at least two of which occurred during the pro-China presidency of the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), despite his unilaterally declared policy of a diplomatic truce with China.

Ma’s recognition of the fabricated “1992 consensus” did not change China’s policy in regards to Taiwan’s international space and representation.

Many of those surprised by Beijing’s intransigence and obstinacy on this issue are the same people who failed to note that China had never publicly agreed to the “separate interpretations” component of the “consensus” that was supposedly built upon it.

Finally, those who blast Tsai for losing allies because of causing “tension” in cross-strait relations are either seeking to gain political capital from a process largely out of her control or who have so internalized the Zhongnanhai policy that they are unable to see the several thousand missiles pointing at Taiwan, now under control of the most powerful Chinese president since Mao Zedong (毛澤東).

It is clear that China has been neither quietly nor subtly advancing its hegemonic goals in the region. Taiwan has been watching Beijing build and militarize islands in the South China Sea for the past five years.

The UN has noticed this too, but it can only do so much. With China on the UN Security Council as a permanent member, there is little chance that the UN General Assembly will ever muster the courage to demand Taiwan’s accession to the body as a full member.

If it can do little to sanction or restrain Israel’s occupation of Palestine, in direct contravention of UN resolutions, it will do nothing for a nation like Taiwan, which only suffers the indignity of being a fully formed nation, but not recognized as such because it has the wrong name codified into an anachronistic Constitution imported onto its people by force in 1949.

Despite the limitations of the UN model of international relations, seeking membership in the UN remains a worthy goal, and every democratic Taiwanese government should continue efforts to maximize and extend international participation.

At the same time, Taiwan has shown that it can and does maintain healthy unofficial government and deep trade relations with a large number of key developed nations.

To what extent, for example, do its 18 allies contribute to Taiwan being, according to the IMF this year, the 23rd-largest economy in the world?

Instead of wailing about losing allies and watching passively as China bullies, bribes, cajoles and blackmails more of its allies to switch recognition, Taiwan should take a more proactive approach to distinguish itself.

First, it should rename the Mainland Affairs Council as the China Affairs Office and subsume it within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Second, all National Immigration Agency offices and customs stations should direct all Chinese visitors and residents to use the counters and lines for foreign visitors and residents rather than have their own special “not quite foreigner” section.

Third, Taiwan should follow the UK’s example and rename all of its unofficial representative offices as “Taiwan Office.”

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