Friday, August 17, 2012

Ma is navigating tricky territory

Chinese activists visit the Diaoyutais
Taiwan will not endanger its longstanding alliance for the sake of a few extremists or a sovereignty claim that has little appeal with the public 

As the region commemorates the anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II, tensions are flaring anew over the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), with the arrest by Japan on Wednesday of 14 Chinese, Macanese and Hong Kong activists after five of them swam ashore to one of the disputed islets to reaffirm China’s sovereignty. 

The symbolic feat, accompanied by protests by activists in front of Japan’s representative office in Taipei, has fueled speculation that President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration, which upholds the Republic of China’s (ROC) sovereignty over the islets, could work with Beijing to corner Tokyo on the issue. 

Among others, the Apple Daily yesterday editorialized that Taipei’s stance could be part of a plan to irritate Japan and the US, and thereby “force” Taiwan to cooperate with China, thus undermining Taipei’s alliance with the US, its sole security guarantor, and Japan, which, despite the absence of official diplomatic relations, remains a friendly regional power. However, such theories collapse on the shores of political reality. 

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

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