20/Mar/2016 // 256 Viewers
Beijing announced last Thursday day it had resumed diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic of The Gambia, a West African nation that had been Taiwan's diplomatic ally for close to two decades. As a new government of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party will be launched on May 20, Beijing's move signals the end of President Ma Ying-jeou's vaunted "diplomatic truce" with the People's Republic of China.
President Ma, who was in Belize during his Latin American official visit, expressed his "great dissatisfaction" over the resumption of Chinese-Gambian diplomatic ties, while Tsai Ing-wen, chairwoman of the Democratic Progressive Party who will be sworn in as president in a little more than two months, hopes Beijing did not "purposefully" do it.
Ma proclaimed an unofficial truce between Taiwan and China in 2008 to end their rivalry to win diplomatic allies by anteing up financial assistance against each other. During his two terms, Taiwan lost only two allies, Costa Rica and the Gambia. It now maintains diplomatic relations with 22 nations around the world that may all switch diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing shortly after Taiwan has its new government.
The Gambia, the smallest nation in continental Africa, has shifted between Taiwan and China. Banjul recognized Taipei in 1965. When Taiwan was kicked out of the United Nations in 1971, Banjul derecognized Taipei and set up diplomatic relations with China. In 1995, one year after 1995, Yahya Jammeh came to power, Gambia re-recognized Taiwan. He severed ties with Taiwan again in 2013, because Taipei refused to give him the large cash assistance he had asked for, but Beijing waited more than two years to resume the ties.
Many of the 22 diplomatic allies, except the Vatican, are fence-sitters just like Gambia. While the Ministry of Foreign Affairs wished a couple of them would not follow suit before May 25 and the Mainland Affairs Council was complaining that Beijing's move ran counter to the peaceful development of cross-strait relations, undermining the foundation of mutual trust and impacting the status quo in the process, Tsai expressed her hope that the resumption of Beijing-Banjul ties is not purposeful and declared both Taiwan and China are responsible for the peace in Asia and the Pacific and there should not be the rivalry in international relations between them "to hurt the feelings of the people on both sides of the strait." She added that her new government will proactively contribute to the international society, and try to win its support as well as support. She also pointed out that there should not be difference in diplomatic policy between her government and the outgoing Kuomintang administration, hoping all the people of Taiwan would support her foreign policy.
Tsai probably understands Beijing sent the message that she has to accept the unsigned 1992 modus vivendi, under which Taipei and Beijing are agreed that there is but one China whose connotation can be separately and orally enunciated, and say so in her May 20 inaugural speech.
The major concern now is whether Tsai has the appropriate diplomatic and political depth to present a parrying move that can alleviate the offensive that the PRC has so obviously taken on itself to initiate against Taiwan.
Taiwan is certainly capable of contributing to all the endeavors of the international community; it has always been doing so, and to be perfectly clear it is Gambia's loss to have sacrificed a loyal friend for money and whatever other leverage that the PRC is perceived to have. All the tumult is basically over whether Taiwan's value will be needlessly put on the line of cross-strait political crossfire in which, unfortunately, the bigger player has the stated goal of vanquishing perceived "bad elements" of the smaller.
We can't dictate what President-elect Tsai can say to best ward off further aggressive moves from the PRC. But a major purpose of our response should be to reveal one core element of the current dispute: to stop Beijing from painting itself as "responding" to "provocations." The PRC has been throwing out all the moves while wanting to claim it is being snubbed, but isn't it weird to describe the current situation that way, when Tsai has repeatedly said she wants peaceful, viable cross strait relations?
The president-elect has been respectful so far. If only Beijing returned a semblance of that respect, it would help further negotiations. - The China Post