As China seeks to limit Taiwan’s international space, the US should help Taipei keep its diplomatic allies and not leave it at the mercy of Beijing, Washington-based think tank Heritage Foundation’s Asian Studies Center director Walter Lohman said.
When asked by reporters about China’s recent efforts to limit Taiwan’s international freedom of movement after President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office in May last year, Lohman said, “the problem for Beijing is that it has already played so many cards in reaction to her election.”
Examples include cutting contacts with Taiwan and preventing its access to international organizations, such as the International Civil Aviation Organization, he said.
He also said that it would be difficult for Taiwan to attend the World Health Assembly later this year, with or without telephone call between Tsai and US president-elect Donald Trump last month and the two US stopovers during Tsai’s current state visit to four diplomatic allies in Central America.
The congratulatory call between Tsai and Trump, the first interaction of its kind since the US switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979, angered China.
In addition to blocking Taiwan from international organizations and meetings, there is not much more Beijing can do diplomatically “except go after Taiwan’s allies,” Lohman said.
“But the US and others can help Taiwan keep its allies,” he added. “We shouldn’t leave Taiwan at the mercy of Beijing.”
He also called on Taiwan to keep the door open to communicating with China.
“This gives Taiwan’s friends the best context for helping,” he said, adding that “it is a long-term process.”
Meanwhile, Lohman confirmed that he met with Tsai when she was in Houston, Texas, last weekend, saying it was an honor to welcome her to the US.
Tsai and her delegation transited in Houston on the way to Honduras, the first leg of her nine-day visit to four Central American nations including Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador.
She is scheduled to return to Taiwan tomorrow after transiting in San Francisco.
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