Foreign affairs experts have expressed hopes for new developments in Taiwan’s foreign diplomacy and cross-strait relations in response to Friday’s announcement of a reshuffling of top national security, foreign affairs and cross-strait officials.
Foreign diplomacy is Taiwan’s toughest area, Taiwan Thinktank researcher Tung Li-wen (董立文) said, adding that diplomatic allies and international organizations are limited by China’s comprehensive suppression, and there is not much that Taiwan can do.
After switching to a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)-appointed minister of foreign affairs, more agile and active behavior can certainly be expected, he said.
The government might seek to deepen ties with non-diplomatic allies with which Taiwan has cultivated relations, he said.
Former representative to Japan Koh Se-kai (許世楷) said he hopes that Presidential Office Secretary-General Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), who is to replace Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lee (李大維), will highlight Taiwan’s “subjectivity” and reduce the “Republic of China colors” after he takes office.
Taiwan is an independent, sovereign nation, but if it overemphasizes the “Republic of China,” it will only ever be seen as a part of China, Koh said.
After taking office, Wu must push for greater change and must actively highlight Taiwan’s sovereignty to give the public something to look forward to, Koh said.
Former representative to Japan Lo Fu-chuan (羅福全) said that President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) appointed Wu as foreign minister to communicate that Taiwan hopes for peaceful relations rather than hostility with China.
China has repeatedly expressed its willingness to use military force against Taiwan and rationalized its intentions through various actions, Lo said.
If the Tsai administration were to continue to rely on a foreign affairs minister from the previous structure, it would be difficult to really express the Cabinet’s determination, Lo said, adding that Tsai needed to appoint a new minister to carry out her vision on foreign affairs.
Over the past few years, Taiwan and China had not maintained a “status quo,” Koh said.
By slowly eroding Taiwan’s original advantages, China has been changing the “status quo,” he said.
The administration’s reshuffling of national security personnel is an attempt to turn around the unfavorable momentum and push Taiwan forward, Koh said, adding that whether the move would be effective is to be seen.
Taking into consideration political, cross-strait and international stability, the DPP did not immediately take over leadership of the national security structure when Tsai assumed office in May 2016, Tung said, adding that instead, it largely continued to use personnel from the “existing structure.”
The “provisional mission” has now been completed and this is also a good timing, Tung said, adding that the reshuffle has received positive feedback, showing that it is a successful staffing arrangement.
Leaving aside diplomacy, Taiwanese generally do not have enough crisis awareness and the nation’s defense capabilities are weak, Lo said.
The government should speed up military exchanges with and arms purchases from the US while the international environment is still “the best it has been in history” and raise the national defense budget to 3 percent of GDP as soon as possible, Lo said
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