Tai­wan’s new or­der

Yields to China, em­braces ties with Amer­ica

The Washington Times Weekly - - National Security - BY NI­CHOLAS KRALEV

Tai­wan’s days as a “trou­ble­maker” are over, and its “provoca­tive” be­hav­ior to­ward China in the past sev­eral years is giv­ing way to “flex­i­ble diplo­macy,” the is­land’s new en­voy to Wash­ing­ton said Sept. 16.

Ja­son Yuan, head of Tai­wan’s Eco­nomic and Cul­tural Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Of­fice, or de facto em­bassy, also said that Ta i w a n e s e leader Ma Ying-jeou will sig­nif­i­cantly im­prove re­la­tions with the United States, which suf­fered un­der his pro-in­de­pen­dence pre­de­ces­sor, Chen Shui-bian.

“We want to sur­vive,” Mr. Yuan told ed­i­tors and re­porters at The Wash­ing­ton Times. “We are so tiny, we have to be friendly with ev­ery­body, par­tic­u­larly a su­per­power like the United States. We don’t want to be provoca­tive; we don’t want to con­front [any­one].”

The Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion had a dif­fi­cult re­la­tion­ship with Mr. Chen, whose eight years in of­fice were marked by ris­ing ten­sions in the Tai­wan Strait and a high-pro­file diplo­matic fight with China over of­fi­cial recog­ni­tion by dozens of coun­tries.

Tai­wan has diplo­matic re­la­tions with 23 states, Mr. Yuan noted. Most are small coun­tries in Latin Amer­ica, Africa and the South Pa­cific. They in­clude Belize, Gu­atemala, Gam­bia and the Solomon Is­lands.

Mr. Yuan said that Tai­wan will aban­don some of the tac­tics em­ployed by Mr. Chen’s gov­ern­ment, such as “writ­ing checks” to se­cure al­le­giance, and will pro­vide for­eign aid only for spe­cific projects that ben­e­fit the re­ceiv­ing coun­try.

Mr. Ma will pur­sue nei­ther in­de­pen­dence nor re­uni­fi­ca­tion with the main­land, said Mr. Yuan, who de­scribed his pres­i­dent as “flex­i­ble, mild and prag­matic.” The Tai­wanese pres­i­dent “feels we should not chal­lenge each other,” the en­voy said in a ref­er­ence to main­land China. “He doesn’t want to be a trou­ble­maker — he wants to be a peace­maker.”

Mr. Yuan cred­ited Pres­i­dent Bush with help­ing Tai­wan’s diplo­matic rec­on­cil­i­a­tion with Bei­jing by call­ing both Mr. Ma and Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Hu Jin­tao in late March, about the time of Mr. Ma’s elec­tion.

The en­voy, who has been in his po­si­tion only a month, ex­pressed op­ti­mism that a multi­bil­lion-dol­lar U.S. arms pack­age to Tai­wan will ma­te­ri­al­ize af­ter years of de­lay by the is­land’s par­lia­ment. Wash­ing­ton is com­mit­ted to Tai­wan’s de­fense by law.

As a sign of Tai­wan’s de­sire to be non-provoca­tive, Mr. Yuan said that, for the first time since 1993, Tai­wan will not seek a seat in the U.N. Gen­eral As­sem­bly this year. Al­though the is­land’s 23 mil­lion peo­ple should not be “ig­nored” by the United Na­tions, Mr. Ma’s gov­ern­ment will try to join only spe- cial­ized U.N. bodies, such as the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion, where Tai­wan can make “mean­ing­ful con­tri­bu­tions,” Mr. Yuan said.

China has not in­di­cated whether it will use its diplo­matic weight as a per­ma­nent Se­cu­rity Coun­cil mem­ber to block Taipei’s down­sized as­pi­ra­tions, but Mr. Yuan said that state­ments by Chi­nese of­fi­cials had not com­pletely closed the door to a com­pro­mise.

Tai­wan, which hopes to join 16 U.N. bodies, is the world’s 17th largest econ­omy and has con­trib­uted cash and emer­gency as­sis­tance to spe­cific projects over the years, al­though it has not made con­tri­bu­tions to the or­ga­ni­za­tions them­selves.

Bei­jing took over Taipei’s U.N. seat in 1971.

China stands ready to dis­cuss a broad range of sen­si­tive mil­i­tary, eco­nomic and diplo­matic is­sues with Tai­wan if the is­land’s new gov­ern­ment ac­cepts Bei­jing’s terms on na­tional sovereignty, China’s U.S. am­bas­sador, Zhou Wen­zhong, told The Times in June.

“We have made clear that, as long as they agree to the one-China prin­ci­ple, ev­ery­thing can be dis­cussed,” Mr. Zhou said, in­clud­ing such top­ics as China’s mil­i­tary buildup across the Tai­wan Strait and Tai­wan’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions.

Mr. Ma, 58, was sworn in as pres­i­dent on May 20, and the first for­eign del­e­ga­tion he re­ceived was from the United States, Mr. Yuan said. It was headed by Mr. Bush’s for­mer chief of staff, An­drew H. Card Jr.

A lawyer by train­ing, Mr. Ma was ed­u­cated in both Tai­wan and the United States, where he at­tended New York Uni­ver­sity and Har­vard. He was born in Hong Kong, but his fam­ily moved to Tai­wan when he was 1 year old. He is also a for­mer mayor of Taipei.

Mr. Yuan, who headed the Wash­ing­ton of­fice of Mr. Ma’s party when it was in op­po­si­tion, has spent decades in the United States in var­i­ous ca­pac­i­ties. He served in the Tai­wanese navy and earned a mas­ter’s de­gree from South­east­ern Uni­ver­sity in Wash­ing­ton.

Betsy Pisik at the United Na­tions con­trib­uted to this re­port.

NEW EN­VOY: “We don’t want to be provoca­tive,” said Ja­son Yuan, head of Tai­wan’s Eco­nomic and Cul­tural Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Of­fice.

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