Apple Daily: Taiwan has no other alternatives

2018/08/22 18:15:48 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) / CNA file photo

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) / CNA file photo

China's poaching of another of Taiwan's allies, coming at the end of President Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) visit to Paraguay and Belize with stopovers in the United States, was aimed at humiliating President Tsai, further shrinking Taiwan's international space and its status as a sovereign country, and shaking Taiwanese people's confidence in their government.

China has unleashed all of its power to kill off Taiwan diplomatically simply because the Tsai administration refuses to acknowledge Beijing's version of the "1992 consensus" -- which is that Taiwan is part of China. The diplomatic war will continue unless Taiwan surrenders, but begging for mercy will only result in Taiwan's total collapse under Chinese pressure.

President Tsai has vowed never to bow to China's pressure. We see it not as a slogan. Instead we see it as necessary to avoid the consequences of bending under pressure. Domestic unity is a must under such circumstances.

The opposition Kuomintang (KMT), however, wasted no time to blame Tsai for causing El Salvador to switch allegiance to Beijing. It was a dumb thing to do, because the KMT is only alienating itself from all Taiwanese.

We admit that during Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) eight years as president (2008-2016), a diplomatic truce between Taiwan and China was possible because Taiwan chose to evade the sensitive issue of national sovereignty, and this fundamental issue has not been solved. Ambiguity over sovereignty should not be the only alternative available to democratic Taiwan.

For Taiwanese, we must face the reality that more of our 17 remaining diplomatic allies will be lured away as we cannot afford a pricey diplomatic war with China. Instead, we need to focus our limited resources and energy on those who are actually vital to our survival and our security.

The U.S. has been vital to Taiwan ever since Chiang Kai-shek moved his government to the island. This is true for both the pan-blue KMT and the pan-green Democratic Progressive Party. The minor difference between the two camps' reliance on the U.S. comes from China: When it is nicer to Taiwan, Taiwan will tilt toward the middle; when it acts like a bully, Taiwan will naturally move closer to the U.S.

As the Trump administration tries to hobble China's rise, Taiwan gains in importance. That is why China's poaching of El Salvador, in the U.S.'s backyard, has alarmed Washington, which now has a greater sense of urgency to intensify efforts to contain China.

China has taken the initiative to steal away Taiwan's diplomatic allies one by one, but Taiwan must not capitulate, and it is only natural that it will get closer to the U.S. This is a last resort that has been caused by none other than China itself.

As to how to convince the U.S. to step up its support for Taiwan, that is the Tsai government's biggest diplomatic challenge.

Luckily for Tsai, Taiwan is an ally that Trump does not want to lose at this stage. Her government just needs to push a little harder to get a good response. It can't do any harm. (Editorial abstract -- Aug. 22, 2018)

(By S.C. Chang)
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