The "checkbook diplomacy" used by China and Taiwan in the South Pacific will end if Beijing offers Taipei more international space, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (
Ma's comment, which was made during a lunch gathering at the Lowy Institute, was published yesterday in the Sydney Morning Herald, which called Ma the nation's "would-be president."
According to the newspaper, Ma is concerned about the recent developments in the Solomon Islands, where the election of a prime minister last month was allegedly influenced by secret funds from Taiwan.
Arguing that the problem has to be tackled at its source, Ma renewed his proposal of developing a "modus vivendi" with China on Taiwan's international space, the paper said.
If China continues to try to suppress Taiwan in the international community, "I think probably we will become desperate, and I don't think that will be very constructive to cross-strait relations," the paper quoted Ma as saying.
"We don't expect recognition: All they have to do is to not challenge us and to not deny our existence. Then the space we need will be created," he said.
Ma tried to assure Australians that he would be a "peacemaker, not a troublemaker" if elected and that he thinks Beijing would accept the KMT-run Republic of China as a "lesser evil" than a "Republic of Taiwan," according to the newspaper.