Wed, May 16, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Tsai lags behind Ma, Chen: think tank

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

After nearly two years in office, President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) foreign relations performance pales in comparison with those of former presidents Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), a veteran diplomat said yesterday.

“Tsai has been outperformed by Ma, and even by Chen, in terms of diplomacy,” former representative to the US Shen Lyu-shun (沈呂巡) said at a forum in Taipei held by the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) National Policy Foundation think tank to review Tsai’s performance ahead of the second anniversary of her inauguration on Sunday.

From 2000 to 2008, Chen delivered some “heroic performances” in the face of China’s suppression of Taiwan in the international arena, including initiating a vote on the nation’s application for observer status at the WHO’s 2014 World Health Assembly, Shen said.

Although the bid eventually failed, it received “yes” votes from US and Japanese representatives, he said, challenging Tsai to undertake similar actions that are conducive to Taiwan’s bid for greater global participation.

Despite not being a member of the UN or the WHO, Taiwan participated in the annual WHO meeting as an observer from 2009 to 2016, when cross-strait relations warmed under Ma’s administration, which adopted a conciliatory policy toward Beijing.

Due to pressure from China, which has taken a series of punitive measures against Tsai over her administration’s refusal to toe its line, the WHO last year and this year refused to issue an invitation to Taiwan.

Shen also took issue with the number of diplomatic allies the nation has lost since Tsai took office on May 20, 2016: Sao Tome and Principe in December 2016, Panama in June last year and the Dominican Republic last month.

“Now, the Tsai administration has even gone about telling the world that it does not have a list of potential new diplomatic allies. Is it going to sit back and let Beijing take away our diplomatic allies one by one?” Shen said.

Shen was apparently referring to remarks by Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) at a gathering with the media on Tuesday last week, during which he dismissed the existence of a list of potential new diplomatic allies, contrary to what his predecessor, David Lee (李大維), had told a legislative session in December 2016.

Wu also said that the government has no plans to establish formal diplomatic ties with other nations.

Tsai has clearly harbored “unrealistic fantasies” about the US and Japan and underestimated the affects of cross-strait relations on the nation’s foreign relations, said former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方), who serves as convener of the foundation’s Foreign and Defense Affairs Division.

As a result, Tsai could not find even one nondiplomatic ally that would permit her to make a transit stop during a state visit to southern Africa last month, Lin said, adding that six of the nation’s overseas representative offices have also been forced to change their names due to Chinese pressure.

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