Friday, June 08, 2012

How to alienate an important ally

An F-16A/B takes part in an exercise in Pingtung yesterday
Members of the US Congress who over the years have fought for Taiwan could be reluctant to do so again if Taipei does an about-face on the F-16C/D 

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) came into office in 2008 on the promise that he would improve relations with the US, the nation’s most important diplomatic ally, a goal he claimed he had attained as he campaigned for a second term. 

Though it denied doing so, Washington in the months leading to the Jan. 14 presidential election acted in a way that supported Ma’s contention, with some officials in US President Barack Obama’s National Security Council sabotaging Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) visit to the US prior to the vote. 

That is not to say that Ma’s relations with Washington were always smooth, especially when it came to the US beef controversy, which led directly to the ouster of Ma’s first National Security Council secretary-general, Su Chi (蘇起). However, it can be said that the relationship has been stable overall, following years of shakier ties under the DPP’s Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁). 

All that could be about to change, though, as the Ma administration appears close to committing an about-face that could not but be felt as a transoceanic slap in the face by some of Taiwan’s staunchest supporters in Washington. 

My unsigned editorial, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.

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