The greater crisis for Taiwan in the diplomatic arena would be diminished international space rather than a loss of diplomatic allies if no “common basis” exists between both sides of the Taiwan Strait, former minister of foreign affairs Francisco Ou (歐鴻鍊) said.
Ou was referring to the so-called “1992 consensus” that president-elect Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has refused to recognize.
China’s recent re-establishment of diplomatic relations with the Gambia is a clear “signal” for the potential crisis of Taiwan’s international presence, Ou said.
Ou, who served as minister of foreign affairs in President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration from 2008 to 2009, said he believes that the loss of the Gambia as a diplomatic ally was not a failure of Ma’s modus vivendi diplomacy approach, because the two sides of the Taiwan Strait had not robbed each other of diplomatic allies over the past eight years.
Also, while the Gambia in 2013 unilaterally announced its decision to sever diplomatic ties with Taiwan, China did not re-establishe official ties with the African nation until recently, he said.
It is clear that China chose this moment to re-establish diplomatic ties, Ou said, suggesting that the move is a warning for the incoming DPP administration.
Asked if the China-Gambia case would trigger a ripple effect, Ou said that he believes China would cease its diplomatic truce with Taiwan if there is no “common basis” between the two sides, referring to the “1992 consensus.”
The “1992 consensus,” adopted by Ma for his cross-strait policy, refers to a tacit understanding between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Chinese Communist Party that both sides of the Taiwan Strait acknowledge there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what “China” means.
Robbing diplomatic allies was just something that caused “hurt feelings,” but policymakers should recognize that Beijing’s blocking of Taiwan’s international space will be the “true crisis.”
With its political and economic power, China has enough influence to stop the international society from developing substantial relations with Taiwan, Ou said.
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