Taiwan is not truly doing enough to make an impact in the world today.
Although it gives substantial aid to a number of countries — primarily its allies, by way of economic, agricultural, business, educational, health and other foreign aid — and it has made an impact with its distribution of health supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic — again principally to allies, and a few other Western nations — this country is not doing enough politically “on the ground” to really get democracy and liberal policies moving around the world.
The government made an announcement “backing democracy” in troubled Myanmar, but that is not enough — it is only words. Taiwan needs to do more.
Western countries have launched sanctions against the military government in Myanmar, but do not count on Taiwan doing that soon, as the nation is too obsessed with making money abroad to in any way disenable business and economic connections, no matter how authoritarian or dictatorial a given country might be.
What Taiwan needs to do is actually enter into foreign relations and true diplomacy through actions such as sanctions against governments abusing human rights; active recognition of progressive, reformist states around the world and governments embarking on real change and development (as the US did with African and Middle Eastern countries during the Arab Spring); acceptance of more migrants and, most importantly, refugees and other displaced persons (more than just accepting those leaving Hong Kong, which is not a truly international move); active support of disaster aid (Taiwan has been fairly good here); support of positive UN actions (which Taiwan has in part done, but again mainly by way of words only); real support of racial justice anywhere in the world (and for that matter also at home); actual participation in supranational integration; and true peacemaking (launching a drive toward neutrality would be beneficial here, and a true supranational move).
Taiwan needs to exit the theoretical (words only) world of foreign policymaking, and enter the world of practice.
Needless to say, this would be a challenge, but in terms of the main obstacle, China’s obstruction, Taiwan could take steps, and achieve breakthroughs.
These steps would be Taiwan engaging in foreign relations in energetic ways — by initiating those actions outlined above, and by contact and cooperation with other free, progressive countries and actual participation in joint activities.
Just do it. Take steps and to hell with Beijing’s latecomer meddling. China’s communist government will not be able to stop every move that can be made, so make the moves, Taiwan.
Get off the fence, stop the confabulation and colloquy, and start taking active, operational foreign policy steps today.
David Pendery is an associate professor at National Taipei University of Business.
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