At a meeting with campaign supporters on Wednesday, Kaohsiung Mayor and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) said that Taiwan was at risk of becoming “like North Korea” due to being locked out of international organizations.
Han’s comment appears to have been motivated by Taiwan’s exclusion from any free-trade agreement with ASEAN, despite the association having such agreements with six other non-ASEAN countries.
However, despite the lack of a Taiwan-ASEAN free-trade agreement, Taiwanese businesses have factories throughout Southeast Asia, and the government is engaged in numerous humanitarian aid programs in the region. Under the administration of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), investment in South and Southeast Asia has been rising thanks to the New Southbound Policy.
Taiwan participates in over 170 international organizations, including the Olympic Games, Amnesty International, APEC and the WTO. In contrast, North Korea is party to roughly 60 international organizations.
However, to its credit, North Korea is a member of the UN. So perhaps becoming more “like North Korea” would not be so bad for Taiwan? All jokes aside, Taiwan actively seeks participation in international organizations, but is often obstructed by China. In contrast, North Korea isolates itself.
Since Taiwan’s exclusion from some organizations is externally imposed, it would be helpful for Han to offer specific proposals on how he would tackle the issue should he become president. His visit to Hong Kong and China in April, ostensibly to arrange an agricultural trade deal, as well as a Kaohsiung City Government official’s attempt to establish a ferry service to China, seem to suggest Han favors closer ties with China.
Since he has stated that he would not endorse China’s “one country, two systems” formula, how would he propose closer ties with China are arranged? Also, how would he guarantee national security, given the repeated threats of military force made toward Taiwan by Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), and Xi’s unwillingness to respect Hong Kong’s autonomy?
Taiwan is a country that foreign officials — regardless of a lack of official ties — feel comfortable visiting. Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, former Indian foreign secretary Shivshankar Menon and former Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper visited Taiwan earlier this week to join National Day celebrations. Such visits would be very unlikely in North Korea.
As China increasingly finds itself at odds with countries like the US and Canada, Taiwan has found itself gaining more support from current and former officials in those countries. Canada knows firsthand about trade imbalances with China, which has suspended imports of canola seeds from Canada.
The move was seemingly in retaliation for the arrest and extradition to the US of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou (孟晚舟). Speaking at the Yushan Forum in Taipei on Tuesday, Harper indirectly criticized China as a country whose “trade strategy is about accumulating perpetual large surpluses with other countries,” an article published on Thursday in Canada’s The Globe and Mail said.
Han on Wednesday criticized Tsai for “not doing a good job and not making the people rich,” but at a time when other countries are beginning to question their relationship with China, Tsai’s pivot toward Southeast Asia and elsewhere to reduce economic dependency on China appears to be the right strategy.
If Han wants to be taken seriously as a presidential candidate he should start substantiating his criticism of the current president and offer real alternatives.
French firm DCI-DESCO in April won a bid to upgrade Taiwan’s Lafayette frigates, which has strained ties between China and France. In 1991, France sold Taiwan six Lafayette frigates and in 1992 sold it 60 Mirage 2000 fighter jets. To prevent arms sales between the nations, China negotiated an agreement with France and in 1994 in a joint statement, France promised that there would be no future arms sales to Taiwan. From China’s point of view, the DCI-DESCO deal constitutes a breach of the agreement, but the French stance is that it is not selling Taiwan new weapons, but instead providing a
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in her inaugural address on May 20 firmly said: “We will not accept the Beijing authorities’ use of ‘one country, two systems’ to downgrade Taiwan and undermine the cross-strait status quo.” The Chinese government was not too happy, and later that day, an opinion piece on the Web site of China’s state broadcaster China Central Television said: “While Tsai’s first inaugural address four years ago was read by Beijing as an ‘unfinished answer sheet,’ the one she presented this time was even more below-par.” Speaking to the China Review News Agency, Shanghai Institutes for International Studies vice president
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc worldwide. Despite countries being under pressure economically and from the novel coronavirus, China’s National People’s Congress last month passed national security legislation for Hong Kong, a decision that has shocked the world. Let there be no doubt: This move is the beginning of the end of China’s plans for “one country, two systems” in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Proposed amendments to extradition laws last year ignited massive protests in Hong Kong, with millions of participants, shocking the world and making confrontation between government forces and those who opposed the change a permanent part of Hong
Protecting domestic workers Ms Heidi Chang’s (張姮燕) article (“Employers need protections too,” May 24, page 6) made the case that “migrant workers’” rights had improved in Taiwan, but employers’ rights had not, going so far as to complain that all employers are treated equally under the law — as though this was not how the law was supposed to work. The truth is that the rights of foreign blue-collar workers have still not caught up with the rights their employers have always enjoyed. This segment of the foreign community in Taiwan is more likely than other groups to encounter abuse. Recently, a care