Saturday, May 28, 2011

The diplomatic games they play

President Ma has been a model leader for US President Barack Obama’s administration, and yet Washington has not reciprocated with moves that could be helpful to his re-election campaign

Several Taiwan watchers reacted in anger earlier this month when the Presidential Office said it would turn to the European Parliament for help over the “Taiwan, Province of China” name controversy at the WHO. Why, several asked, would President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration not turn to its oldest ally, the US, for help on the matter and seek succor instead from the Europeans, whose assistance could be expected to bring but the most marginal of results?

It would be easy to assume that Ma’s decision was in fact based on the expectation that the EU would do nothing that risked causing anger in Beijing. By so doing, Ma, who is seeking re-election in January, would meet expectations at home that he do something to redress the slight, while ensuring that the outcome wouldn’t undermine relations with Beijing, which remains the core of his current and future policy.

While there may be some validity to this contention, the context in which the controversy emerged provides alternative explanations.

My op-ed, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.


mike said...

Good article.

justrecently said...

Besides the global - frequently competing - interests of the U.S., what the European Union could do for Taiwan shouldn't be underestimated. The EU wouldn't help to defend Taiwan against Chinese military attacks, but it could do a lot to widen Taiwan's economic and political breathing space. Given that it comes without an obligation to get involved in a war, the EU may actually be prepared to be of some help.

Para 8 in this post of mine refers to some indications that it may actually be helpful to some extent. American military support is vital for Taiwan. But to remain visible on the global political and cultural map, it will need other forms of support, too.

FOARP said...

The F-16s and submarines are far more important than the diplomatic support for Taiwan's defence. So long as it has a credible defence, only a major offensive with much larger forces can overcome Taiwan.