|President Ma Ying-jeou|
As if Taiwan’s status and official designation were not confusing enough for those who are not familiar with its precarious situation, President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) foreign policy in recent months has seen so many twists and turns as to stun even the most seasoned of policy wonks.
The root of the confusion is not, as some of his detractors would have it, that Ma is bending to Beijing’s will, but rather that he wants it all. He wants to improve relations with China, the US, Japan and the rest of the international community, but at the same time his administration feels it must rock the boat to ensure that Taiwan is not ignored while elephants clash, and must prepare for a rainy day should the current detente in the Taiwan Strait shift in a different direction.
As a result, while Ma has proposed the widely hailed East China Sea peace initiative, Taipei has also engaged in brinkmanship of a kind never seen before, sending militaristic signals and appealing to nationalistic sentiment, while relying on the Coast Guard Administration to flex some muscles at sea over the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) dispute.
My unsigned editorial, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.