President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) “diplomatic truce” with China has not benefited Taiwan as his administration claims, former diplomats from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said yesterday.
Ma embarked on a 12-day trip to Africa on Saturday night, visiting the nation’s three diplomatic allies of Burkina Faso, Gambia and Swaziland for the first time since taking office in 2008.
Officials have described Ma’s refueling stop in Mumbai, India, the first ever visit to that country by a Taiwanese president, as a “diplomatic breakthrough” and an example of the benefits that have come from Ma’s “diplomatic truce.”
“The brief stop should not be viewed as a breakthrough, but part of normal engagement between two countries,” former representative to the US Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said on the sidelines of a forum in Taipei yesterday.
Diplomacy values continuity above everything else, Wu said, adding that while the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) had criticized the former DPP administration for what it said was “checkbook diplomacy,” Ma’s foreign policy remained “pretty much the same.”
The president did not take time to visit the nation’s allies in Africa until the final year of his first term in office, which means that he does not value the friendship with those countries, Wu added.
Meanwhile, former National Security Council deputy secretary-general Parris Chang (張旭成) said yesterday that Ma’s diplomatic truce with China had placed the nation’s 23 diplomatic allies in a dilemma.
Some allies want to switch recognition to Beijing, but China has declined such overtures, which means “the diplomatic truce is not really a truce at all,” Chang said.
Separately yesterday, former DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said the refueling stop in India was “at best a minor breakthrough.”
“The glaring problem with Ma’s foreign policy is the lack of any balance as the president has focused on Taiwan’s relationship with China to the exclusion of all others and as a result diplomacy has not been at the heart of his administration,” said Tsai, who was in Lugang (鹿港), Changhua County, yesterday.
The Africa trip is Ma’s sixth foreign trip since becoming president. The last time a Taiwanese head of state visited the continent was former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) in 2002.