Thu, Aug 30, 2018 - Page 8 News List

A diplomatic ally lost is a step toward autonomy

By Liou Uie-liang 劉威良

It is like a soccer match. Whenever a country breaks off diplomatic relations, people react as if a goal has been scored against Taiwanese independence, and everyone is forced to imagine the day when Taiwan is left with no diplomatic partners at all.

However, it also takes Taiwan one step closer to the day when the nation is called “Taiwan” and not some other title.

A few days ago, the Republic of China (ROC) was hugging 18 cushions, but now there is one fewer, and it feels a little less cozy.

Over the past few years, the trend of countries cutting diplomatic ties with the ROC has sped up.

However, the more countries cut ties, the more it is highlighted that Taiwan should be known by its own name.

Taiwan’s few remaining diplomatic partners are only symbolic, since they wield no real influence. The day will soon arrive when there are no more cushions to lean on.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) talks about preserving the “status quo,” but it cannot be preserved if the other side does not want to.

If China does not play ball and Taiwan’s diplomatic partners stop supporting it, things can only go from bad to worse.

Why do countries keep cutting ties? Actually, the ROC brought it upon itself.

In the past, everyone blamed former president Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) for insisting that “gentlemen cannot stand beside scoundrels.”

However, since the end of martial law in 1987, the ROC has been punching above its weight. Instead of adjusting its foreign relations policies to fit the international situation, it has stuck to the Chiang regime’s “one China” policy and kept walking down the path wrongly chosen under Chiang’s authoritarian dictatorship.

Although the reins of government have been handed to and fro between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Democratic Progressive Party, neither, for the sake of the so-called “highest common denominator,” has altered this course. They insist that preserving the “status quo” is the only way to maintain peace.

Wrong assumptions will surely lead to unwanted results.

While both sides of the Taiwan Strait — the ROC and the People’s Republic of China — hold to the consensus of the “one China” policy, no matter who interprets “China” and how they interpret it, the ROC will end up with no diplomatic partners.

Taiwanese are perhaps the friendliest people in the world, so what kind of foreign relations have put Taiwan in such a bind? Tsai needs to answer this question. When preserving the “status quo” cannot serve Taiwan’s best interests, how should Taiwan play its cards?

Or does Tsai plan to just sit there until the ROC drops dead? It is one route to independence, but why should taxpayers pay so much to employ a public servant who does nothing?

For a nation to wait until it has no diplomatic partners left, so that it has no choice but to be independent, would certainly be a historic first, but perhaps the best response to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) head-on charge is using soft power against hard power.

Before long, Taiwan will have no choice but to be independent, and it will all be Xi’s doing.

When the time comes, the Taiwanese independence movement should thank Xi for his contribution, since only he can score the winning goal for Taiwanese independence.

No need to boo, then, when the ROC loses diplomatic partners — it would be better to cheer instead.

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