Global opposition to China holds danger, opportunity for Taiwan: MAC head

04/21/2021 06:16 PM
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Mainland Affairs Council chief Chiu Tai-san. CNA photo April 20, 2021
Mainland Affairs Council chief Chiu Tai-san. CNA photo April 20, 2021

Taipei, April 21 (CNA) The emergence of a global coalition to counter China's actions in the Indo-Pacific region carries both danger and opportunity for Taiwan, but at least for the time being, a little more of the latter, according to the head of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC).

The remarks by Chiu Tai-san (邱太三) during an interview with CNA Tuesday reflect the optimistic approach he has taken since being appointed director of the MAC in February, even as cross-Taiwan Strait ties remain at an impasse.

In his inaugural speech at the MAC, Chiu pledged to do his best to improve cross-strait relations, saying that the two sides should look to cooperate in areas of mutual benefit while avoiding issues that are likely to elicit controversy.

Now two months into the job, Chiu argued that international efforts to push back against China's growing influence in the region -- such as the joint statement on the Taiwan Strait issued by the U.S. and Japan last week -- could help to bring Beijing to the negotiating table.

From former U.S. President Donald Trump through to President Joe Biden, there has been a global system taking shape with the aim of countering or resisting China, he said.

"For Taiwan, international efforts to confront China in various arenas carry both danger and opportunity," Chiu said. "And in the short term, the opportunities seem to be greater."

In terms of the danger, he said, there is a risk that these moves will provoke China, causing it to react in ever more extreme ways -- or merely to continue asserting itself through confrontational "wolf warrior" diplomacy.

But there are also reasons to believe it will not respond this way, with one of the main factors being the future prospects of Chinese leader Xi Jinping (習近平), he said.

On the domestic side, Chiu noted, the Communist Party of China will hold its 20th Party Congress in Beijing next year, at which Xi is widely expected to be granted a third term as China's leader.

In order to justify this breaking of the traditional two-term limit for Chinese leaders, Xi will face pressure to deliver some policy successes, Chiu went on, adding that this will likely provide an incentive to pursuing improved cross-strait ties.

Logically speaking, Xi may also adopt a new approach to China's image abroad, if only to repair some of the damage done by its aggressive diplomacy and military expansionism in recent years, he said.

For example, China's efforts to enforce its claims in the South China Sea have been met with suspicion and antipathy, Chiu said. "And no leader wants their tenure to be defined by economic and foreign policy tensions, or even conflict."

(By Wu Po-wei, Lai Yen-hsi and Matthew Mazzetta)

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