Friday, June 30, 2017

The World is Not Abandoning Taiwan

J Michael Cole,

Despite the challenges and diplomatic reversals, Taiwan is in many ways more connected to the international community today than it was during the ‘diplomatic truce’ with China, and its existence as a sovereign state remains secure.

Image (not from article) from
Misreading the tea leaves
[T]he idea itself that the international community is “deserting” Taiwan relies on a misreading of Taiwan’s role within the international community and of the actions it has taken behind the scenes to counteract Beijing’s efforts. While China has successfully won over a handful of small states, Taiwan has been actively engaging democratic allies — several of them in the G20 category — unofficially, expanding trade, government-to-government exchanges, security cooperation and interactions at various levels. The New Southbound Policy, launched by the Tsai administration last year, has been part of that process, and could eventually secure closer ties with major economies (and China competitors) such as India. Meanwhile, relations with Japan, the U.S., Singapore, Australia, the U.K., Canada and several other countries have also expanded in recent years and will continue to do so as leading democracies (or agencies in those countries) re-evaluate their relationship with authoritarian China. Exchanges at the non-governmental, foundation and municipal levels, as well as reciprocal parliamentary visits, have been growing steadily, and Taiwan recorded its largest-ever number of foreign tourist arrivals last year despite a marked drop in Chinese arrivals. As a natural ideological ally, a responsible stakeholder and a major trade partner to many countries, Taiwan is a natural partner for a fledging democratic counteroffensive, and after eight years of sagged global public diplomacy under President Ma (largely due to his focus on China), its outreach efforts have grown and should continue to grow (issues such as the legalization of same-sex marriage are the kind of “soft power” items that have boosted Taiwan’s international visibility). ...

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