The government should start political negotiations with China as soon as possible, as Taiwan is becoming less important as a bargaining chip against China, former minister of foreign affairs Francisco Ou (歐鴻鍊) said yesterday.
Ou made the remarks at a forum hosted by the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) National Policy Foundation think tank on how US President Donald Trump’s Asia trip might influence cross-strait relations and the Asia-Pacific region.
Universal values — democracy, freedom and human rights — which used to be important in international relations were not mentioned during Trump’s current trip, Ou said.
Instead, the focus has shifted to economic relations, including Chinese and US companies having signed trade and investment deals worth more than US$250 billion, he added.
“North Korea’s missile and nuclear tests have become an imminent threat to the US’ national security, so the US is likely going to take the issue to the negotiating table,” Ou said. “North Korea’s missile and nuclear tests were attempts to boost its bargaining power at the negotiating table to achieve a better deal.”
“The ultimate goal of China’s national development is to achieve the Chinese dream of a great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, and its Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative and promotion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership are all part of its efforts to achieve this,” he said.
China considers Taiwan inseparable from the Chinese nation, so as it steps up its efforts to achieve the “Chinese dream,” the Taiwan issue has become an urgent problem that it wants to resolve, Ou said.
Given the distinctive difference in power between Taiwan and China, the Taiwanese government should stop resisting and seek political negotiations for peaceful development on both sides, he said.
“Taiwan will only continue to be a bargaining chip for the US or Japan if we continue to confront China,” he said. “We are not even important enough to be a bargaining chip anymore.”
National Taiwan University Department of Political Science professor Tso Chen-dong (左正東) disagreed, saying that the “Taiwan issue” remains critical in US-China relations.
Citing a report by Xinhua news agency about Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) telling Trump that “the Taiwan issue is the most important, most sensitive core issue in China-US relations and concerns the political basis of the China-US relationship” during their meeting last week, Tso said: “The Taiwan issue has not been marginalized.”
Although the report said that Trump told Xi that the US is sticking to its “one China” policy, what was discussed in the talk between Trump and Xi, as well as a talk between US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅) on Sept. 30, were not publicized, Ou said.
“Owing to the lack of openness and transparency of these talks, as well as Trump’s unpredictability … I urge the government to maintain close communications with the US to keep a good grasp of US-China developments,” he said.
The government should also keep a close eye on US-China military relations, which seem to be growing closer, and might be used as a leverage to limit Taiwan-US military exchanges and US arms sales to Taiwan, he said.
As a small nation, Taiwan should be on the alert and develop all possible opportunities and bargaining chips, Ou added.
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