Sunday, April 29, 2012

Useful toe treading by Taiwan?

Aerial view of Taiping, with airstrip clearly visible
If handled properly, overlapping claims in the South China Sea could give Taiwan an opportunity to join multilateral regional organizations 

In a recent article in the Web-based journal of international affairs The Diplomat, Cain Nunns makes some interesting observations about the harm that Taipei’s claim to the South China Sea is causing to its already fragile diplomatic relations. 

To briefly summarize his argument, the claim that the entire South China Sea belongs to the Republic of China (ROC) — made, according to Nunns’ count, nine times by President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration over the past 18 months — is a preposterous attachment to the ROC Constitution of 1947, which came into force before Chinese Communist Party forces had the chance to kick Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) across the Taiwan Strait. 

Nunns argues that, in addition to needlessly alienating regional claimants at a time when Taipei can ill afford to do so, the claims are identical to those made by Beijing, an overlapping phenomenon that could be part of Ma’s efforts to blur the lines between Taiwan and China under “one China.”

Former president Chen visits Taiping
Valid though such points may be, they fail to account for the fact that when in power from 2000 until 2008, the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) maintained the claims to the contested series of islands in the South China Sea. 

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

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