Mon, Apr 21, 2014 - Page 3 News List

INTERVIEW: Sunflowers movement is a ‘wake-up call’

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

On the trade agreement with China, there are questions to be examined other than its economic merits, for example, the impacts that opening Taiwan’s printing, publishing and translation sectors to Chinese investors will have on press freedom in Taiwan, he said.

Citing as examples China censors taking scissors to Pirates of the Caribbean because it shows scenes of a Chinese pirate and SET TV eliminating one of its talk shows so that it can sell its dramas to China, Stanton said “Taiwanese should worry about that.”

“The political leadership needs to address that. People in Washington making comments on this agreement need to be sensitive to that as well,” he said.

In Stanton’s view, the strategic implications of Taiwan should not be left out of consideration.

Since World War II, US alliances with Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and Philippines have contributed to peace and stability, under which even China has prospered, he said.

“If Taiwan is lost and becomes a part of China, if the South China Sea is lost, China will return to its days as an empire, and everybody around the world will become tributary states because China will be able to rule the sea and to control the flow of crude oil. Look at what happens. They [China] just lost the WTO case on rare earth,” he said.

China now is very intent on changing the “status quo” and it wants to drive the US out of Asia, Stanton said, adding there are “implications beyond Taiwan for what happens on Taiwan” if Taiwan loses its independent status while China recreates its Qing Empire days.

John Mearsheimer, a professor of politics at the University of Chicago, recently predicted that in the face of China’s continued rise, Taiwan would have to give up even its present de facto independent status and seek a Hong Kong-style accommodation with Beijing.

“I don’t know if it will happen, but I don’t think it is by any means inevitable,” Stanton said, adding the student protest is a “wake-up call” for a lot of people to do things differently.

The US and other countries should be trying to create trade agreements on their own with Taiwan, Stanton said.

“Everybody needs to have a relationship with China. That’s clear, including Taiwan, but Taiwan is already so heavily invested [in China],” he said.

More than 40 percent of Taiwan’s exports are bound for China, 80 percent of Taiwan’s overseas investment goes to China, and Taiwan now faces intense competition from Chinese manufacturers which used to be its customers, Stanton said.

It is in the interests of the US to help Taiwan diversify its external economic relations, he said.

Stanton said it is not going to be easy for the US to sign an FTA with Taiwan because there is too much protectionism in Taiwan “sometimes irrational protectionism and sometimes politically motivated protectionism.”

“Taiwan has been isolated for so long. [Protectionism] is kind of understandable, but I think we should do more to push to Taiwan into our arms, rather than just saying: ‘Well, Taiwan has to take steps. It has to do this [and that.]’ That’s true for everybody,” Stanton said.

The US should also bring Taiwan into TPP talks in the same way it allowed Japan to join for another reason, when Japan expressed its interest, he added.

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