The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is reportedly considering opening a representative office in Western Australia, which would be the first in the state and fifth in Australia.
Opening an office in the state capital, Perth, makes sense given its size, as well as providing economic and political benefits, said Sung Wen-ti (宋文笛), a lecturer in the Taiwan Studies Programme at Australian National University.
As Australia’s fourth-largest city and a popular destination for Taiwanese on working holiday visas, it would be a reasonable choice for the next Taipei economic and cultural office, Sung said on Jan 31.
Taipei has offices in Australia’s capital, Canberra, and in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, the country’s three largest cities.
Western Australia is the nation’s largest exporter of iron ore and other minerals, putting it in the spotlight as Australia and China head toward a trade impasse amid a souring political relationship, Sung said, adding that a presence in Western Australia would provide important political ties to state officials.
Dealing with Chinese officials in Australia has in the past few years become more difficult due to China’s “wolf warrior” diplomacy, while Taiwan has grown in reputation, partly on Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu’s (吳釗燮) availability to Australian media, Sung said.
Meanwhile, National Sun Yat-sen University political science professor Kuo Yu-jen (郭育仁) called for a “targeted” approach to diplomacy, given the nation’s limited resources and room for international influence.
Taiwan has many foreign offices for its size, hampering effective concentration of resources where they are needed most, Kuo said on Jan. 31.
Senior officials should reallocate resources and set a strategic focus to better target efforts and materials toward strategic goals, he said.
Given that diplomatic work cannot wait for a strategic reassessment, offices should be opened in key countries or cities only as the need arises, he said.
Investment in India would be one example, given its position as a New Southbound Policy target nation, he said.
Western Japan is also an area that should have more Taiwan offices, given that it is disproportionately represented compared with other parts of the country, he said, adding that Japanese politicians’ support for Taiwan highlights the importance of representation in key cities.
Kuo suggested “not to be presumptuous” when targeting countries beyond Taiwan’s reach.
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