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Australia praises Taiwan President's efforts to put end to 'checkbook diplomacy'

New diplomatic initiative will benefit whole region, says Australian representative Cawte

Australia praises Taiwan President's efforts to put end to 'checkbook diplomacy'

Australia has welcomed President Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) new diplomatic initiative to avoid competing with China for allies, openly lauding for the first time Ma's attempts to end so-called "checkbook diplomacy" in the South Pacific.
"We are very encouraged by statements by Taiwan officials, including the president, that Taiwan intends to provide aid that is transparent and accountable and has humanitarian and practical focus, " Alice Cawte, representative of the Australian Commerce and Industry Office (ACIO) in Taiwan, said in an interview with the Central News Agency.
A senior career officer with Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) , Cawte is familiar with China-Taiwan relations as she was the assistant secretary of DFAT's East Asia branch from 2005 to 2008 and has served overseas in Beijing and studied Chinese in Taiwan.
"It will benefit the region as a whole because without the previous tug-of-war for recognition in the Pacific ... (Taiwan) will be able to focus more on government systems that support good governance in the region and are transparent and accountable, "Cawte added.
Since assuming the presidency on May 20, President Ma has followed a "modus vivendi, " or flexible, diplomatic strategy, which attempts to set aside Taipei's differences with Beijing to find a mutually beneficial equilibrium.
He is also seeking a "diplomatic truce" to end a longstanding tug-of-war with China in which both countries try to lure each other's allies to switch diplomatic allegiance by offering large sums of foreign aid.
Such attempts by Taiwan were aimed at carving out a greater international presence for the island, which due to China's opposition, is not recognized by the U.N. or other international groups whose members are countries.
China considers Taiwan one of its provinces, even though the island has been self-ruled since 1949.
In a visit to Taiwan's International Cooperation and Development Fund on Sept. 18, Ma affirmed that the government's approach to foreign aid is strictly based on three key principles: the purpose must be legitimate, the process must be legal, and the assistance must be effective and efficient.
Being the biggest benefactor of countries in the South Pacific, Australia has significant influence in the area.
It has long criticized Taiwan and China for conducting "checkbook diplomacy" in the South Pacific region, saying that such a hostile competition for influence fuels corruption and political divisions.


Updated : 2021-04-19 03:13 GMT+08:00