The Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) administration is proceeding carelessly in its cross-strait policies, is unreceptive to criticism and appears to be focusing on its relations with Beijing at the expense of the nation’s ties with long-standing allies, former representative to Washington Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said in an interview with the Taipei Times this week.
In its efforts to develop ties with China, Wu said, the Ma administration seemed to have decided on the political end-state before conducting the proper security/strategic assessments to determine the wisest course of action.
“On the higher national security level, there has been no grand assessment on Taiwan’s standing with China and all other important countries, and no report on Taiwan’s priority list with other countries, including China,” said Wu, who is now a research fellow at National Chengchi University’s Institute of International Relations.
Since Ma came into office, old allies like the US, the EU and Japan have been ignored, he said, adding that the only country that seemed to matter to Ma was China.
He also said some prominent US academics had begun to worry that China has gained more influence and leverage over Taiwan than the US.
One sign of this development was the fact that the US was kept in the dark on cross-strait political issues such as WHO negotiations that resulted in Taiwan being allowed to participate as an observer at the World Health Assembly, the WHO’s decision-making body, earlier this year.
Wu said a US official had told him that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government was not willing to provide any information to the US about negotiations between Taipei and Beijing on the matter.
“American officials and members of the policy community in [Washington] are very eager to know what is being talked about on political issues such as peace agreement and military confidence-building measures because these issues may fundamentally change the American security environment in East Asia,” Wu said.
“But apparently the American side seems to be getting very little information from the KMT government,” he said.
During his election campaign and soon after entering office, Ma repeatedly said that his government would endeavor to improve relations with Washington and undo the “damage” caused to bilateral ties during former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) eight years in office.
Another level where the Ma administration has failed to conduct risk assessments is in cross-strait economic liberalization, Wu said.
“No impact assessment at all [was made] before Ma made the decision on an ECFA [economic cooperation framework agreement] and shifting TFT-LCD [thin-film-transitory liquid crystal display] and 12-inch wafer fab production to China,” Wu said.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs announced earlier this year that it would review the technological cap set on TFT-LCD production in China by Taiwanese manufacturers.
“TFT-LCD and [computer chip] fab production have been considered as two key strategic industries for the Taiwanese economy. Even some KMT legislators who favor better relations with China said to me that they do not agree with the decision-making process,” he said.
Under the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration, while encouraging trade liberalization with China, Taiwan imposed limits on the types of key technologies that could migrate to China, mostly to ensure that Taiwan retained its technological edge.