Taiwan will not align itself with China on issues related to territorial disputes under President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration, a Taiwanese visiting scholar at the Brookings Institute in Washington said on Wednesday.
Huang Kwei-bo (黃奎博), an associate professor at National Chengchi University’s department of diplomacy, quoted Ma as saying that Taiwan “supports all actions benefiting regional stability and peace in the Asia-Pacific region and will not discuss issues related to territorial disputes in Asia with China.”
He also cited Ma as saying: “Taiwan is willing to cooperate with countries on mutual development and exploration of oceanic resources.”
Huang made the statements at the Hudson Center while addressing a seminar that posed the question: “Will Taiwan be secure in the emerging Asian order?”
Even though Taiwan presently has closer links with China, the nation still needs the support of the international community, he said.
The US should help Taiwan defend itself and should be supportive of direct talks between Taipei and Beijing, he added.
In response to Washington’s concern that Taiwan invests too little in military defense, which accounts for less than 3 percent of its GDP on average, Huang said allocating a lower military budget is reasonable under the current economic downturn.
“If Taiwan fully accepts the US$12 billion arms sales proposed by the US, it will not be able to pay its soldiers,” he said.
The nation’s military expenditure would likely increase when the economic situation improves, Huang added.
He also said that many in Washington view Taiwan’s improving relations with China in an unfavorable light.
Some claim that Taiwan’s frequent contacts with China would undermine US-Taiwan relations and that Taiwan would become a weak link in the US’ strategic positioning in East Asia, while others argue that Taiwan has become a liability to the US and that “abandoning Taiwan” is a favorable option, he said.
Huang called these misconceptions of the situation “diplomatic realism.”
If the US truly abandons Taiwan, it would mean that the US has admitted defeat to China and would lose its competitive edge in the Asia-Pacific region, he said.
US arms sales to Taiwan help stabilize the situation across the Taiwan Strait and help the nation have more confidence in negotiating with China, Huang said.