Liberty Times: Beyond the Taiwan-China conflict

2018/06/20 16:25:32 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
CNA file photo

CNA file photo

The U.S. Senate recently passed the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2019, which contains a proposal that the Department of Defense should send American troops to take part in Taiwan's military exercises and vice versa. The June 12 dedication for the new American Institute in Taiwan compound in Taipei also marked an advance in U.S.-Taiwan relations.

Amid tensions triggered by a looming U.S.-China trade war, China is venting its anger at Taiwan instead of the United States. As a result, Beijing has sent aircraft and navy vessels to circle Taiwan and announced 31 measures to appeal to the people Taiwan. In addition, it has also pressured foreign airlines to designate Taiwan a province of China on their websites.

However, although Beijing's efforts to belittle Taiwan have had only limited impact, the administration of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has failed to come up with countermeasures. While Tsai tries hard to maintain the status quo across the Taiwan Strait, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) is seeking to shake things up. This is a huge challenge for Taiwan and a problem shared by all democratic countries in the Indo-Pacific.

What is worrisome is that the Tsai administration is dogged by a host of domestic and international issues at a time when China is flexing its muscles over Taiwan.

Although statistics show that Taiwan's economy has improved, those improvements have not been felt by Taiwan's nationals, in particular the younger generation.

Regardless of the local election results in November, the situation Tsai faces at home makes it very difficult for her to counter the moves made by Xi. No matter how hard Trump or the U.S. Congress seeks to advance U.S.-Taiwan ties, Tsai needs to fight alone.

Fortunately, the ease in tensions on the Korean Peninsula has pushed the U.S. to shift its attention back to the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea.

Frankly speaking, there is not much room for Tsai to maneuver on cross-strait relations and foreign affairs, because Taiwan finds itself caught between the United States and China. The urgent task at hand is for Tsai to unify a divided Taiwan by focusing on the bullying tactics used by Beijing.

China's pressure on foreign airlines to change Taiwan's designation under its "one China principle" is intended to seize for itself the right to define what "one China" means in the international arena in order to clear the way for its ambition to become a major world power.

Tsai should focus on this battle between Taiwan and Taiwan-China in an international context as a strategy to secure greater support from other countries. (Editorial abstract -- 20 June, 2018)

(By Flor Wang)

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