A majority of voters in the referendums held on Dec. 18 voted “no” on all four referendum proposals. Their rejection of the proposal to ban imports of pork from pigs fed with the additive ractopamine will have a profound effect on Taiwan’s foreign relations. The US and Japan will now have greater confidence in the ability of President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) government to handle and resolve major political issues, as well as in the Taiwanese public’s judgement, and they will be more firmly convinced that Taiwan is a trustworthy ally.
As American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Deputy Director Jeremy Cornforth said on Dec. 26: “Taiwan is a reliable partner” and “the United States will continue to support Taiwan as it seeks to engage internationally.”
The government should now consider how to strengthen Taiwan’s relations with the US and Japan to jointly safeguard peace in the Taiwan Strait and the Indo-Pacific region.
Taiwan has core strategic value for the US’ military, democratic and economic interests and its high-tech supply chain. Stability in the Taiwan Strait is a key element of peace in the Asia-Pacific region. The loss of Taiwan would be a major setback for the world’s democratic camp, and it would undermine confidence in the US.
The best way for the US to deter the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from engaging in military aggression would be to scrap its “one China” policy and move from “strategic ambiguity” to “strategic clarity” by warning the CCP not to provoke a war that would endanger the world.
Parliamentary delegations from several countries visited Taiwan last year. Taiwan’s government should now invite the leaders of both parties in the US Senate and House of Representatives — especially House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is very friendly to Taiwan — to come to Taiwan to discuss issues such as deepening Taiwan-US cooperation and maintaining stability in the Taiwan Strait.
US President Joe Biden has on occasion referred to Taiwan as a country. However, while the US calls its representative office in Taiwan the American Institute in Taiwan, Taiwan calls its equivalent institution the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the US. Now is the right time to fix this odd title.
Turning to Japan, Taiwan’s government must address the political challenge of lifting its ban on food products from the five prefectures around the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. The ban is out of line with the global trend, and lifting it would improve relations between Taiwan and Japan. The government must therefore work to dispel public concerns and win majority support for scrapping the ban.
The global situation has changed dramatically. The CCP’s “wolf warrior” tactics of bullying countries and companies have provoked international outrage and prompted countermeasures. Faced with the CCP’s endless provocations and threats, Taiwan must always be on guard and ready to fight back. It must forge a strong will to stand firm in the face of adversity.
In her New Year’s Day address on the theme of “resilient Taiwan, one with the world,” Tsai said that “the results of last year’s four referendums showed that Taiwanese are even more resolved to connect with the world.”
As Tzou Jiing-wen (鄒景雯), editor-in-chief of the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper, the Liberty Times, wrote on Dec. 27: “Preparing to become a citizen of the world is a very important issue for Taiwan’s pursuit of survival, development and growth.”
Eugene Yeh is a former director-general of the National Center for High-performance Computing.
Translated by Julian Clegg
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