Wednesday, November 14, 2012

DPP makes wise choice in Joseph Wu, Washington office

The well-spoken Joseph Wu has a heavy task ahead of him
The challenges will be formidable, but it’s hard to imagine a man better placed to meet them 

The announcement on Monday that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) had tapped former representative to the US Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) to reopen and head the party’s office in Washington is an important development for the future of Taiwan’s relations with its principal ally.

Although, as some critics have already pointed out, it is unusual for the opposition party of a democratic ally to have an office in the US capital, Taiwan’s idiosyncratic — and at times precarious — position makes this essential. The disparity in power and resources between the DPP and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) alone is such that any counterweight to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) must be physically present in Washington to be heard. 

Since the DPP closed its Washington office in 2000 when it entered the Presidential Office, the party has relied on a one-man liaison office to negotiate the vagaries of the always complex relationship between Taiwan, the US and China. That man, Mike Fonte, has done a wonderful job and earned the respect of many officials, but the immensity of the task, along with Taiwan’s uncertain future as President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) accelerates the pace of cross-strait exchanges, requires more resources. 

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

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