Alexa

New offensive needed in diplomacy

New offensive needed in diplomacy

During the past year, Taiwan has regretfully witnessed a deterioration in our diplomatic position largely due to China's full-scale offensive to reach out to Taipei's allies in Africa and Central America, its continued obstruction of our efforts to join the World Health Assembly and the United Nations and the continued absence of the Taiwan president from the annual "informal summit" of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.
Besides buying out relations with the central African nation of Chad on the eve of a scheduled state visit by Premier Su Tseng-chang in early August, Beijing has intensified its diplomatic offense against Taiwan on other fronts, with the evident aim of further humiliating Taiwan's national leaders in international arenas.
Although these setbacks are undeniable, most observers have failed to take notice of the intense diplomatic wrestling between Taiwan and the People's Republic of China in almost every corner of the world.
In fact, over the past year Taiwan has been constantly reacting to its opponent's attacks while failing to effectively take initiatives that can put Beijing on the defensive.
Given the fact that Beijing has adopted a full-fledged aggressive strategy to sabotage Taiwan's international position, the question posed to Taipei in the coming year is whether and how the Democratic Progressive Party government will formulate and implement alternative strategies to counteract the PRC's growing global influence.
In most sports, it is said that the best defense is a good offense. This axiom should also be applied to Taiwan's diplomacy as well and translates into one word: attack.
While becoming more aggressive should constitute the core principle of Taiwan's future diplomacy, intelligence and aggressiveness most go hand in hand. New, smart and creative thinking and pragmatic strategic planning must be made before the launching of new offensive initiatives.
Key factors include the strategic reallocation or redistribution of manpower and financial resources as well as the rechanneling of the strategy to critical areas or fields in order to keep Beijing busy in reacting to Taiwan's active diplomatic maneuvers instead of the reverse.
At present, Beijing has masked its military expansion and ambitious predatory consumption of global energy and mineral resources with the signboards of "peaceful development" and "building a harmonious society." As a result, statements or actions by the Taiwan government that uphold our sovereignty and independence are frequently mistakenly seen by most members of the international community as moves to rock the boat rather than defend the status quo in the Taiwan Strait.
In the face of China's repeated squeezing of our international space and undermining our diplomatic relationships, Taiwan needs to adopt flexible and aggressive actions to defend and even expand our global presence.
In the past, Taiwan's diplomatic practice has excessively emphasized traditional alignments and formal ties while overlooking the importance and opportunities in non-traditional diplomacy, including the expansion of ties with international civil society. As a result, Taiwan's foreign policy has often been dominated by considerations of short-term interests and superficial political gains and has frequently fallen into a contest for the number of countries with formal diplomatic recognition with the PRC.
During the diplomatic rivalry of the ex-Kuomintang regime with the PRC, it was the "number" that always counted as the KMT defined the entirety of its diplomatic achievements on the number of countries with which Taipei had formal relations and which officially agreed with the myth that the KMT regime represented the sole legitimate government of China.
During this period, although both sides engaged in "money diplomacy," the only side that was usually accused of such practices was Taipei.
Since the Democratic Progressive Party took power in 2000, the situation has unfortunately remained largely unchanged, even though the DPP government has introduced numerous ideas and has placed far more emphasis on humanitarian assistance and fostering ties with international non-governmental organizations and their activities.
Nevertheless, Taiwan continues to be labeled as a "bad influence" along with the PRC by Australia and New Zealand due to their competition for diplomatic allies in the South Pacific. In addition, the diplomatic battling between Taipei and Beijing in Central America and Africa has attracted far more attention than the DPP government's efforts to build non-political relationships and contribute substantively to the international community.
In our view, the pursuit of a "pluralist diplomacy," defined by the DPP government as a way to utilize Taiwan's democratic achievements and the energy of civil society, and "leadership diplomacy" through overseas visits by Taiwan's national leaders, is still correct.
However, from the strategic and diplomatic point of views, it is necessary for the DPP government and especially the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to mobilize all of its overseas embassies and representative offices to "set fires" everywhere in order to force Beijing to spend its resources and time in "extinguishing fires."
For example, instead of engaging in "money games" with the PRC, Taiwan should provide evidence to its diplomatic partners and other nations that Beijing has not and will not deliver on its extravagant promises and emphasize the concrete and pragmatic contribution of Taiwan's assistance efforts to improving grassroots living standards and capability building.
Moreover, Taiwan should keep reminding those countries that are contemplating embracing Beijing of the detrimental effects accompanied with the PRC's influence, especially the negative impact of the dumping of Chinese products on local employment and economic prosperity.
No less critical is for the Foreign Ministry and the Government Information Office to launch a concerted publicity offensive worldwide to shatter the widely held but mistaken image of the PRC as a "peaceful rising power" and show the world the true face of military expansionism and authoritarianism embedded with Beijing's so-called "peaceful rise."
Most importantly, the DPP government must make more effective efforts to incorporate civil society into Taiwan's external affairs and promote deeper participation with equality and respect for pluralistic views with NGOs.
The governing and opposition parties also have the responsibility to set aside partisan and ideological differences for the sake of the common national interests and welfare of Taiwan's people.
Through dialogue among all parties and citizens, we need to formulate a broad consensus for external strategies to unite all domestic forces to resist Beijing's suppression of Taiwan's international space and independence.


Updated : 2021-04-14 01:47 GMT+08:00