Taiwan wary of China dependency
by Frédéric Mounier / February 13, 2017 / la-croix.com
In a tense regional context and with American President Donald Trump’s Asian policy yet to be clarified, the Republic of China’s Vice President, Chen Chien-jen, granted an exclusive interview with La Croix. The 65-year-old practicing Catholic, appointed by the President Tsai Ing-wen in 2016, is an internationally renowned epidemiologist.
On Friday, Donald Trump recognized the “One China” principle in a telephone meeting with Xi Jinping, after having previously evoked a possible review of the consensus between Beijing, Taipei, and Washington on “One China”. Should we be worried that this attitude will harm your relationship with Beijing?
Chen Chien-jen: The United States has always played an important role here. Donald Trump’s election will bring about change. Not all members of the administration have yet been appointed and their policy in the region has yet to be established.
But many officials in Trump’s administration are very friendly with Taiwan and have publicly shown their support. I hope to consolidate our relationship based on current foundations. Secretary of State Tillerson recently confirmed his engagement regarding Taiwan.
We accord the same level of importance to our relations with Beijing as with Washington. It is true that future changes are hard to predict. We remain attached to our relationship with the mainland, to the maintenance of peace and regional stability. As for specific positions adopted by Donald Trump, we will continue to be attentive to developments.
Are you at all concerned about the possibility of war in the region?
C. C.: Since we took up our roles [in 2016], Beijing has always insisted on the necessity of maintaining consensus on “One China”, but has unilaterally cut relations between the two administrations. Mainland China has restricted our international space and carried out military maneuvers.
This has increased pressure on us. Numerous observers see these actions as part of preparations for the next Congress of the Communist Party China [next autumn]. Their goal is to consolidate power and confirm their responses to changes in the international arena. Pressures on Taiwan are likely to follow.
We have always been clear in our desire to maintain peace and stability on either side of the strait. President Tsai has always demonstrated her respect for the historical facts of the 1992 meeting and reiterated her willingness to pursue bilateral relations.
We continuously demonstrate our goodwill, founded historically and with popular support, to maintain peaceful relations. I think that keeping the peace comes down to collective responsibility on both sides of the water. It requires patience and trust. We call on China to adopt a position based on dialogue and not to take negative initiatives against us.
Taiwan is one of the main investors in mainland China. In this context, how can you maintain sovereignty?
C. C.: Our economic relationship is very important. More than 42,000 Taiwanese investors have 164.6 billion dollars invested in mainland China, equal to 60% of our foreign investment. These figures dropped following changes in the economic environment in China.
But we don’t want to put all our eggs in one basket. We want to reinforce our regional and international links, especially with the United States, Japan, and the European Union. We want to establish a global strategy for South Asia in order to reduce the risk of being too dependent on mainland China.
We also have to redirect our economy, withdraw from nuclear power in 2025 and speed up the transition to green energies (by 20%). We also have to accelerate innovation, attract foreign talent and investment (in medicine, defense, agriculture and the circular economy), and build on our achievements in semiconductors. Read more…