Taiwan's diplomatic setback can help build national consensus: scholar - Focus Taiwan

Taiwan's diplomatic setback can help build national consensus: scholar

Taipei, May 3 (CNA) The severance of diplomatic ties between Taiwan and the Dominican Republic can help the Taiwan people better understand cross-Taiwan Strait relations and may also be conducive to forging a Taiwan-centric consensus on the issue of independent sovereignty, a scholar said Thursday.

"The suspension of diplomatic ties with the Dominican Republic can turn out to be a good thing for Taiwan because it can help clarify the relationship between the two sides of the strait," Taiwan Foundation for Democracy Vice President Yan Jiann-fa (顏建發) said at a seminar.

"People who harbored unrealistic expectations toward China should have gained a better understanding," Yan said. "There is no need to have fantasies about cross-strait ties, which simply cannot be achieved unilaterally by Taiwan."

Taiwan has chosen to side with the "alliance," which is led is by United States and includes Europe and Japan, at a time when competition has erupted between China and the U.S., he said.

What Taiwan should do now is to strengthen itself and diversify its risks by reaching out the rest of the world and walking away from the frame set by China, Yan said.

In the face of pressure from China, maintaining the status-quo is the best scenario that can be visualized in cross-strait relations, he said. Meanwhile, Taiwan should turn its sights on the global picture instead of looking only at China, "unless Beijing one day begins internal reform."

Another scholar, Professor Fan Shih-ping (范世平) of National Taiwan Normal University, expressed a similar view, saying the severance of diplomatic ties between Taiwan and the Republic of Dominican will only make Taiwan stronger and push it closer to the U.S. and Japan.

"Although it was regrettable, the development will have no effect on the Taiwan people," Fan said. "The number of diplomatic allies carries some symbolic significance, but doesn't mean anything substantial to the Taiwan people, given the limited bilateral trade and commercial ties."

Fan said he thinks China will continue its efforts to lure Taiwan's diplomatic allies but the Taiwan people have become used to China's bullying tactics and are not ruffled by them.

China's actions will only serve to stir up antagonism among the Taiwanese people toward it and make President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) more resilient in her leadership of Taiwan, he said.

As Taiwan and the U.S. prepare to hold their annual defense industry conference this month in Taipei for the first time in 16 years, China has timed its diplomatic move to show its people that it can punish Taiwan and the U.S, as means of forging internal unity around Chinese President Xin Jinping (習近平), Fan said.

The termination of formal diplomatic relations between Taiwan and the Dominican Republic on Tuesday has left Taiwan with only 19 diplomatic allies, including the Vatican and others in Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa.

(By Yeh Su-ping and Flor Wang)

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