Wed, Dec 16, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Randall Schriver praises president’s diplomatic efforts

Staff Writer, with CNA

Former US deputy assistant secretary of state for Asia Randall Schriver on Monday praised a fisheries agreement signed between Taiwan and the Philippines as a result of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) “pragmatic and creative” diplomacy.

“President Ma is solving problems as evidenced by his fisheries agreement with Japan and his fisheries agreement with the Philippines,” Schriver — who is now a partner with consulting firm Armitage International — wrote in an e-mailed response to CNA questions.

“Countries in Southeast Asia would do well to study his South China Sea Peace Initiative and invite the [Republic of China] ROC to the table for discussion,” Schriver wrote. “President Ma continues to set an example as to what creative diplomacy can accomplish. He has proven that he is a problem solver, not a problem starter, in Asia and others should follow his example.”

Taiwan and the Philippines last month signed a fisheries agreement aimed at addressing disputes in their overlapping economic zones.

The agreement came more than two years after a Taiwanese fisherman was killed in May 2013 when a Philippine Coast Guard vessel strafed his family’s fishing boat in waters that both countries consider to be within their exclusive economic zones.

The shooting triggered a diplomatic row, but eventually led to negotiations over how to avoid such incidents in the future.

“This provides an example worthy of emulation for how to set emotions and tensions aside to pursue meaningful problem-solving. This stands in stark contrast to Beijing’s approach with the Philippines over [their] territorial dispute,” Schriver wrote.

Despite a lack of formal diplomatic relations, Taiwan has signed fisheries agreements with Japan and the Philippines, but it has been excluded from negotiations over claims in the South China Sea held between China and ASEAN due to China’s insistence on holding only bilateral talks with ASEAN members.

That is unfortunate, Schriver said.

“Objective reality is the Republic of China exists as a legitimate state, and lack of diplomatic status should not impede cooperation with Taiwan,” he wrote.

American Enterprise Institute foreign and defense policy academic Michael Mazza on Monday said that Taiwan’s fisheries agreements with Japan and the Philippines are positive developments for regional peace.

The agreements paint Taiwan in a positive light, especially compared with Beijing, showing that Taipei can engage in productive and pragmatic diplomacy with its neighbors even over thorny issues, Mazza wrote in an e-mailed response to CNA questions.

“Hopefully, the agreements will open a door towards deeper bilateral relationships with each country and with other countries as well,” Mazza wrote. “Beijing often claims that it wants to find win-win outcomes in negotiations with its neighbors, but now Taipei actually has a record of doing so.”

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