Former vice president Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) told a packed audience at the Brookings Institution in Washington on Wednesday that the fundamental purpose of his current visit to the US was to “bring Taiwan back to Washington’s attention.”
“To say that Taiwan has been the staunchest ally of the US in East Asia is an understatement,” he said.
However, he questioned whether the US still “cherished” its “loyal and faithful friend.”
Photo: Nadia Tsao, Taipei Times
Siew is heading a large delegation of Taiwanese business leaders on a lobbying mission to persuade the US to support Taiwan’s membership in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade negotiations.
He said that doubts about the US’ commitment to Taipei had emerged as the US had slipped behind China and Japan in importance as a major trading partner.
“I must ask frankly, does the US care about the state of affairs in US-Taiwan relations?” he asked.
Taiwan cares “gravely” about its links with the US, he said.
“Our goal is simple, but significant: We wish to rekindle economic relations by demonstrating our long standing dedication and ties to the US,” he said.
Siew said he wanted to “ensure” Taiwan’s inclusion in Washington’s policy debates at a time when the nation was facing “very difficult economic and strategic challenges.”
Taiwan was being “economically marginalized” by being excluded from major trade agreements in Asia, he said.
Shortly before Siew’s keynote address at a half-day conference titled “Taiwan and the Trans-Pacific Partnership: Issues and Opportunities,” US National Security Adviser Susan Rice delivered a major address at Georgetown University in Washington on “America’s Future in Asia.”
And as if to support Siew’s contention that Taiwan was being neglected, she mentioned it only once and then just as a passing reference.
Siew said that the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement had opened the “enormous” Chinese market to Taiwan.
However, without access to other trade agreements, Taiwan’s external trade and other economic relations had become highly dependent on China, were “unbalanced” and this had led to diminishing ties with the rest of the world, he said.
“I suggest this trend runs very much counter to US interests in Asia,” he said. “Taiwan’s marginalization undermines people’s confidence in our long-term economic prospects and discourages foreign and direct investment in Taiwan.”
If Washington really wanted Taiwan to play a meaningful role in the US “pivot” toward Asia, “it makes perfect sense” to incorporate Taiwan into the TPP because the pact forms the economic center of the rebalancing strategy, Siew said.
“Taiwan’s economy is facing a particularly challenging period of transition,” he said.
Only by liberalizing its markets and renewing economic confidence could Taiwan attract the investment critical to long-term economic competitiveness.
Taiwan was a highly favorable access point for companies and major trading partners to tap into China’s market, he said, adding that this would mean that US companies would gain from Taiwan’s membership in the TPP.
At the same time, by including Taiwan in TPP the US would be lending “a helping hand to a friend at a crucial juncture in our economic development,” he said.
Incorporating Taiwan into the pact would have the additional benefit of “rejuvenating the strong economic linkage between the US and Taiwan, and enabling Taiwan to maintain a meaningful range of policies in its foreign relations, which have strategic implications for Washington,” he said.
Some in the US held an “ambivalent” attitude toward Taiwan’s pursuit of TPP membership, he said.
“They observe that Taiwan ‘talks the talk’ but fails to ‘walk the walk,’” he said.
By incorporating Taiwan into the TPP and further removing trade barriers, the importance of Taiwan’s market to US producers and exporters was certain to increase, he said.
“This is especially true given Taiwan’s institutional affinity toward the US and our cultural affinity toward mainland China,” he added.
He said it would make Taiwan “an ideal springboard” into China’s market for US companies, adding that the TPP would open up Taiwan’s markets and allow Taiwan to serve as an effective gateway to the rest of Asia and beyond.
“We hope the US will help Taiwan to join the TPP negotiations and we also hope that the US can invite China to participate,” he said.
Siew said Taiwan would have to do its own part. One high priority task would be to forge a domestic consensus on the overall direction of long-term cross-strait economic relations, he said.
“Deep mistrust between Taiwan’s ruling and opposition parties has sometimes resulted in the gridlock of debate about a prosperous cross-strait economic relationship, but in fact, the two parties have more in common than most people think,” Siew said.
“Both want Taiwan’s economy to prosper and neither wants Taiwan’s freedom of choice to shrink,” he said.
This common ground should help form a domestic consensus and develop principles for guiding Taiwan’s long-term strategy and objectives in cross-strait economic relations, he said.
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Democratic Progressive Party should cooperate to build a consensus to defuse tensions over cross-strait policies, he said.
“US support of Taiwan’s participation in the TPP is the first step in rejuvenating the US-Taiwan partnership,” he said. “It is time for Washington to act.”
DIPLOMATIC MOVES: Beijing is reportedly pressing the state after reports of forming links with Taiwan, while the ministry is also planning to reopen its office in Guam soon A representative office is set to open in Somaliland at the end of this month, at the earliest, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday amid reports that Beijing is sending a diplomatic delegation to the east African country. The ministry on July 1 announced that Taiwan and Somaliland would establish representative offices, following a report by the Somaliland Chronicle Web site. It said at the time that the two nations did not plan to establish formal ties. Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi has instructed close confidants to explore the possibility of “mutual recognition between Taiwan and Somaliland,” the Somaliland Chronicle reported
‘IMMORAL, INSINCERE’: Huang Kun-huei said that Ma was ‘distorting history’ in claiming that Lee Teng-hui laid the foundation for the so-called ‘1992 consensus’ Former Presidential Office secretary-general Huang Kun-huei (黃昆輝) on Saturday rejected former president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) claim that former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) had been a proponent of Beijing’s “one China” principle. Lee, who served as president from 1988 to 2000, died in Taipei on Thursday last week. After visiting the Taipei Guest House on Saturday to pay his respects to Lee, Ma posted on Facebook that “28 years ago on this day” Lee hosted a session of the now-defunct National Unification Council, during which he passed a resolution on the “one China” principle. That resolution became the basis of the Chinese Nationalist Party’s
NEW ERA: Taiwan, which has controlled its virus outbreak, now faces the challenge of safely resuming economic exchanges with other nations, Chang Shan-chwen said People should not focus entirely on having zero new confirmed COVID-19 cases in Taiwan, but neglect overall control over the disease situation, Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) specialist advisory panel convener Chang Shan-chwen (張上淳) said yesterday. Chang made the remark at a forum in Taipei discussing the steps Taiwan should take in the post-pandemic era, organized by the Chinese-language magazine Global Views Monthly. Chang, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Director-General Chou Jih-haw (周志浩), and Stanford University’s Center for Policy, Outcomes and Prevention director C. Jason Wang (王智弘) each made a presentation, followed by a panel discussion with Chang, Wang and Buddhist Tzu
A Belgian man who tested positive for COVID-19 in Taiwan last week is likely to have contracted the disease in Taipei in late June, National Taiwan University (NTU) College of Public Health vice dean Tony Chen (陳秀熙) said yesterday. The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Saturday reported that the man, who is in his 20s, came to Taiwan for work on May 3 and tested positive on Wednesday last week as he was about to depart. The man in March reported loss of taste and smell, the center said, adding that he worked in Changhua County, but visited Taipei several times,