Tsai has inclusive foreign policy goals
By Paul Lin 林保華
Taipei Times  2015.10.20

During Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) visit to Japan, her hosts afforded her a degree of courtesy almost equivalent to the treatment she received during her visit to the US.

Japanese media outlets reported that Tsai had a secret meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, but the existence of such a meeting has not been confirmed, just like there was no confirmation of her alleged meeting with US National Security Adviser Susan Rice in Washington.

Abe’s position in Japan is higher than Rice’s in the US, while Rice’s responsibilities could be considered more sensitive. Be that as it may, China accepts the special relationship between Taiwan and the US, but it must surely be annoyed about the elevation of relations between Taiwan and Japan.

Tsai also met the key members of the Democratic Party of Japan. Her respect for opposition party politicians is a solid foundation for Taiwan-Japan relations.

In the US, Tsai had both visited Democratic and Republican members of the US Congress, making no distinction between members of the government and the opposition.

On Sunday last week, she met with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and others members of a delegation visiting Taiwan. In addition to expressing her determination for joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Tsai also expressed the hope that the US would continue to assist Taiwan in its development of an independent defense industry.

These indicate that Taiwan has been included in the US-Japan Security Treaty, which has enormous implications for the nation’s security. Taiwan can finally end its economic dependence on China and begin to pursue a higher status in the international arena, which is vital for the nation’s survival.

Without economic independence, there can be no political independence. Therefore, if Taiwan is to join the TPP, it must make appropriate concessions. It cannot, as President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration is doing, incite anti-US sentiment while leaving the door open for Chinese imports.

The DPP’s 29th anniversary celebration on Sept. 22, which was attended by 64 diplomats, accounting for about 90 percent of the foreign representative bodies in Taiwan, was inspiring. Tsai announced a “new southward policy,” which, apart from trade and investment, would also establish mutual links for a wide range of non-governmental, cultural, educational and research exchanges with Southeast Asian countries and India.

The combined populations of India and Indonesia outnumber that of China: There are 250 million people in Indonesia, a vibrant democracy that is enjoying rapid economic development. Taiwan could give Indonesia more assistance in both management and technology.

Does such diplomacy exclude China? On Oct. 1, Tsai announced a policy to establish an Asian Silicon Valley in Taiwan and was subsequently asked if relaxing visas and immigration conditions for foreign personnel would include those coming from China. Tsai said that personnel from all over the world are welcome to come to Taiwan, and there is no need to deliberately exclude Chinese.

Clearly, Tsai’s foreign policy would not exclude China and the only concern is the Chinese threat to Taiwan’s national security.

If Beijing abandoned its ambition to annex Taiwan, shelved the notion of a war of unification and stopped its hostile acts toward the nation, then there would be no reason for the two nations not to establish normal bilateral relations.

Paul Lin is a senior political commentator.

Translated by Clare Lear


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