Taiwan needs global backing to counter China: U.S. scholar

Taiwan needs to seek greater global support beyond the United States in its efforts to counter Beijing, which has been attempting to put the squeeze on the island, an American scholar has suggested.

Thomas J. Shattuck, a research associate at the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI), made the suggestion in an article titled "A Year in Taiwan's Sovereignty" published on the website of the think tank Monday.

Over the past year, Beijing has deliberately tried to "hamper Taiwan in every possible realm. In essence, the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) wants to make it as difficult as possible for the Taiwanese government to function," he said.

These threats have ranged from the more serious poaching of allies and opening new flight routes to the absurd such as pressuring hotels, airlines and bakeries over the way they characterize Taiwan, he noted.

Since Tsai Ing-wen (???) of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party took office in May 2016, China has worked to block Taiwan's participation in as many world bodies as possible.

The country has been excluded from the International Civil Aviation Organization's triennial meeting, and its application to become an observer at INTERPOL was rejected.

However, U.S.-Taiwan relations have advanced at the same time, as evidenced by the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) -- the U.S. de-facto embassy in Taiwan -- opening a new office in Taipei in June, the passage of the Taiwan Travel Act (TTA) in the U.S. Congress in March and the introduction of the Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative (TAIPEI) Act by the U.S. Senate in September, Shattuck said.

"On the face of it, these actions and subsequent results point to a successful year of badgering Taiwan and getting its way. However, Beijing's list of successes must also take into account Taiwan's successes and how other countries -- namely the United States -- responded to Beijing's actions."

The TTA calls for reciprocal visits by high-level officials in both the American and Taiwanese governments.

"While no visits by U.S. Cabinet officials to Taiwan have occurred yet, its passage (with unanimous consent in the Senate) sent a signal to the PRC (People's Republic of China) that no matter what it does to pressure Taiwan, the United States still firmly supports the island-nation," he stressed.

Although Taiwan's international space is smaller than ever, U.S.-Taiwan relations are as solid as ever, Shattuck contended.

"Many countries around the world are beginning to wake up to the fact that opening up to China is not necessarily a good thing, many of the strings attached to any deals will erode their sovereignty in the long term..." he argued.

Against such a background, Taiwan is working to improve relations with countries targeted by its New Southbound Policy, which includes India, New Zealand, Australia and countries in Southeast Asia.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channels