Mon, Aug 06, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Abraham M. Denmark on Taiwan: Does Taiwan have an economic role to play in a free and open Indo-Pacific?

Washington, Taipei, and other key partners should develop mechanisms to coordinate efforts and cooperate on major development projects across the region. By ensuring that our efforts complement one another and support liberal principles that are critical to a free and open Indo-Pacific, these initiatives have the potential to become a major source for the region’s continued stability and prosperity.

Yet Taiwan also has a critical role to play. It cannot afford to sit passively by and wait for the world to come knocking. Instead, significant reforms and investments will be needed to better position Taiwan to contribute to the future of the Indo-Pacific’s digital economy. While Taiwan already brings significant advantages to the table, more can be done. The plan to create an Asian Silicon Valley in Taoyuan is a prime example of the vision and ambition that will be needed. Yet — as with the just-announced US initiative — the key to success will not be in the vision, but in the implementation and the resources committed.

As competition between China and the United States has intensified, Washington has struggled with developing and implementing an economic component of its strategy. With the possibility of the US joining TPP a distant hope, a modest initiative from Washington to enhance US regional development assistance is welcome. But the United States cannot do it alone — allies and partners (including Taiwan) will have a critical role to play in both competing with China and in sustaining the liberal regional order that has been critical to decades of peace and prosperity.

Abraham M. Denmark is director of the Asia Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and formerly served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia. The views expressed are his own.

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