Staff Reporter, in Asuncion
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said on Thursday that he was still negotiating with China about a plan to stop Taiwan and China from wooing each other’s diplomatic allies — what he calls his “diplomatic truce” strategy, but critics have dubbed it a “one-sided declaration.”
“If the diplomatic truce turns out to be a successful strategy, it might be possible that we won’t gain any more allies, but we won’t lose any either,” Ma said.
Ma said he understood that some people disagree with the strategy, but the government should still pursue the goal as it is in the interest of Taiwan.
He made the remarks at a press conference held in Asuncion on Thursday.
During his first state visit to attend yesterday’s inauguration of new Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo and today’s inauguration of the re-elected Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernandez, Ma took the opportunity to explain his ideas on the “diplomatic truce.”
Ma said he had gained support for the idea from the diplomatic community in Taiwan, US friends in think tanks, the legislative and executive branches and the country’s allies.
Presidential Office Spokesman Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) said Panamanian President Martin Torrijos had praised the “diplomatic strategy” as a “wise decision” and Lugo called it the “correct direction” during their separate meetings with Ma over the last two days.
Taiwan has 23 diplomatic allies — mostly small nations in Africa, Latin America and the South Pacific — while about 170 countries recognize China.
After assuming office in May, Ma called for a diplomatic truce with China, saying both sides should not compete for recognition by offering large sums of money, a practice critics call “checkbook diplomacy.”
If both sides of the Strait can refrain from engaging in checkbook diplomacy, donations to less developed countries would be purely foreign aid and not part of a vicious competition, Ma said.
Taiwan and China’s checkbook diplomacy battle is often criticized by the international community, but giving donations to less developed countries is what Taiwan should do as it can help resolve problems derived from uneven global development, Ma said.
“As a member of the world, we are obliged to help other countries. Taiwan benefited from aid from the US and other countries in the past,” Ma said.
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