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Taiwan's status in East Asia unique: grad student

2013/05/28 16:45:35

Los Angeles, May 27 (CNA) In East Asia, Taiwan's central position in the Western Pacific between the South and East China Seas makes Taiwan a strategic asset, an international graduate student in Taiwan said in an article published Monday on a U.S. media website.

Nathan W. Novak, a master's degree student at the Institute of China and Asia-Pacific Studies and Center for Japanese Studies at National Sun Yat-sen University in Kaohsiung, said in the article that not long ago in East Asia, the Taiwan Strait appeared to be the only flash point.

"Those days appear gone with new territorial tensions involving China and several of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) nations, then China and Japan, and then China and Japan again this past year," he wrote in the article that was published on the website Sharnoff's Global Views.

Moreover, the Korean Peninsula remains a potential powder keg, one that has been the scene of both real and potential power struggles for over a century, Novak said.

Even though these tensions are downplayed during periods of relative peace and prosperity, they never disappear completely, he said.

Novak, whose current research is focused on the Sino-U.S.-Japan strategic triangle, said that reciprocity is unlikely to work under these circumstances since it appears that no one side will recognize any aspect of the others' claims and since there appears comparatively little that can be given in return.

These undercurrents also serve an important -- though somewhat inconvenient -- purpose for U.S.-Taiwan relations, he wrote. Without them, the U.S.'role in East Asia would be diminished, leaving the region, and particularly Taiwan, more vulnerable to Chinese influence, the student said.

Indeed, it is the presence of such undercurrents that keeps the U.S.-Taiwan relationship strong despite decades-long debates on abandoning Taiwan, Novak said. More significant is Taiwan's strategic regional location in Asia, he wrote.

Its central position in the Western Pacific between the South and East China Seas, not to mention that it is also a territorial claimant in both, makes Taiwan a strategic asset, he said. Geographically, Taiwan is a strategic asset in dealing with any regional flare up and involving any and all claimants, not just China, Novack said.

Moreover, Taiwan plays key ideological, intelligence-gathering, and communicative roles, he added. As a democratic partner, Taiwan's potential as a model for a future China has not gone unnoticed, he said.

"With its military and intelligence apparatuses geared towards resisting Chinese attack and infiltration, Taiwan already serves an important role in intelligence gathering and would likely play a more pronounced role in the event of a regional crisis," the student wrote.

By asserting its territorial claims as independent of China, Taiwan can also help communicate to China and other claimants that unilateral moves to change the regional territorial status quo are unacceptable and have consequences, Novak said.

(By Oscar Wu and Y.L. Kao)
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