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President’s pragmatic diplomacy

By: N. Peter Kramer - Posted: Monday, September 1, 2008

President’s pragmatic diplomacy
President’s pragmatic diplomacy

Will President’s pragmatic diplomacy for strengthening Taiwan’s position be successful?

Taiwan’s President since 5 months, Dr. Ma Ying-jeou, reiterated that under the notion of seeking a "diplomatic truce" with China, his country will strive to strengthen relations with European countries but will not seek full diplomatic ties. This will give more space in developing relations with both Taiwan and China at the same time without the concern that would otherwise be caused.

Dr. Ma pointed out that all European countries, except for the Vatican, have diplomatic relations with China, while the Holy See is Taiwan's only European ally! Ma made the remarks at a meeting at the Presidential Office with John Perry, chairman of the Ireland-Taiwan Parliamentary Friendship Society. Due to concern over the tension between Taiwan and China, European countries tend to be cautious about developing further relations with Taiwan, even though the country has set up economic and cultural offices in most European countries and many European countries have a trade office in Taiwan.

The President said that his efforts to cement relations with China since assuming office are aimed at seeking an end to the "vicious competition" in the diplomatic field, giving Taiwan more international space for development. He expressed hope that Mr. Perry and other friends in Europe will help introduce his idea of the "diplomatic truce" to more people when dealing with related issues.

EP urged to show goodwill on Taiwan’s UN bid

Recent cross-strait developments such as high-level meetings between ruling party leaders of China and Taiwan, direct weekend charter flights and the island’s opening up to more mainland tourists suggest the warming of relations. Taiwan is expecting that its new UN bid will be treated by China with more subtlety and hopefully more understanding.
Unlike in previous years when it has requested full membership of the UN, Taiwan now says it merely wants to be allowed to participate ‘meaningfully’ in one or more of the UN’s 16 specialised bodies. These include the World Health Organisation (WHO), the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). The request will be submit at the 63rd session of the UN General Assembly in New York which starts on 16 September.

The move - which represents a significant departure for Taiwan - has been “fully endorsed” by centre-right MEP Georg Jarzembowski, chairman of EP-Taiwan Friendship Group. He said, “It is a perfectly reasonable and well-founded request and the very least China can do. After the success of the Olympics, it would represent an appropriate goodwill gesture on the part of Beijing." The German deputy went on, “It is vitally important Taiwan is allowed to join such organisations, not just for Taiwan but for the rest of the world.

For example, Taiwan’s exclusion from the WHO has been detrimental to the health rights of the 23 million people of Taiwan and foreigners residing in and travelling to Taiwan. “But it also creates a weak spot in the global epidemic surveillance network which will harm the international community," said Jarzembowski, a vice president of the EPP-ED group.
Another senior MEP has thrown his weight behind Taiwan’s plans to participate ‘meaningfully’ in the activities of the UN specialised agencies. UK Tory MEP Edward McMillan-Scott, an EP vice president, said, “I still think Taiwan should push for full membership of the UN. But I see the fresh approach by the Taiwanese government for the country’s participation in the UN as the first crucial test for recently-elected President Ma Ying-jeou’s diplomacy.’

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‘Free debate and exchange of views is vital. Even when you disagree’.

N. Peter KramerBy: N. Peter Kramer

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