Saturday, May 24, 2014

Wake Up, Washington: All's Not Well in Taiwan

Unless Washington quickly modernizes its views on current realities in the Taiwan Strait, it will be caught unprepared 

A few months ago I was approached by someone who asked if I would be interested in giving a talk at the Asia Society in Houston on “Taiwan in the 21st Century.” I readily accepted the offer, but for a long time wondered what I could talk about. After all, the subject was extraordinarily vague and we were not given any guidelines. Then the Sunflower Movement burst onto the scene, and I had my angle. 

Very few incidents in the past six years have highlighted the level of incomprehension about developments Taiwan more than foreign reactions to the nearly three-week occupation of the Legislative Yuan in Taipei. Since President Ma Ying-jeou initiated his rapprochement initiative with Beijing following his election in 2008, Taiwan, once regarded as a tinderbox that could spark armed conflict between a rising China and the U.S., appeared to have been neutralized. It no longer was a subject of interest, except among security experts and those whose principal interest in life is to inflate their investment portfolio. It didn’t help that international media companies were going through a rough period, which made it easy for foreign bureaus to freeze hiring, slash positions, or close up shop altogether. Taiwan was democratic, and the once-hostile relations with China were a thing of the past — at least superficially, and superficiality was as far as most media were willing to go when it came to the island’s politics. 

My article, published today in The Diplomat, continues here.

No comments: