Diplomatic Truce: End Checkbook Diplomacy
United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
May 7, 2008
The one billion NT Papua New Guinea (PNG) scandal is a mirror that reveals who the vampires are. It prevents the Chen Shui-bian regime from stonewalling and getting off scot-free. It proves that Chen's "Scorched Earth Diplomacy" has become a hotbed for corruption. The incoming administration must prosecute this case to the fullest extent of the law. It must also learn a lesson from its predecessor's mistakes. In order for cross-strait relations to develop in a peaceful manner, the pointless contest in checkbook diplomacy must end.
The prolonged diplomatic struggle between the two sides is a remnant of the Cold War. Taipei has long believed that maintaining diplomatic with a given number of nations is essential to survival. Beijing believes that if it fails to aggressively suppress Taipei diplomatically, Taiwan will take advantage of the opportunity to declare independence. But times have changed. The world is now flat. Barriers between nations are coming down. Cross-strait economic and trade exchange obstacles are gradually being removed. How can the two sides not change their thinking on the diplomatic front?
The KMT's checkbook diplomacy was the object of harsh criticism. Once in power, the Democratic Progressive Party adopted its "Scorched Earth Diplomacy," a reckless strategy of butting heads with Beijing, in order to underscore the difference between "Us" and "Them." Actually its real raison d'etre was to give Chen Shui-bian a stage on which to perform his "Head of State Diplomacy." It was a means of shifting political struggles on the island of Taiwan onto a more lavish international stage. In terms of the larger interests of the nation, it was a losing proposition. Over the past eight years, the ROC has left the international community an image of itself as a troublemaker. It has alienated the always friendly United States. The ROC has not made any breakthroughs or joined any international organizations via this head on approach. It has merely strengthen the mainland's efforts at containment. Meanwhile, the ROC's regional interests have been steadily eroded.
The PNG graft scandal shows that the DPP's diplomatic strategy was wrong. It degenerated into a cover for corruption, for diplomatic amateurism, for money-oriented international relations, and poorly-defined goals. Everyone from top to bottom has paid the price, and our national dignity has been sacrificed. Remove the cloak of "Scorched Earth Diplomacy" and all you will find is naked greed.
Over the past eight years, the Chen regime succeeded in establishing diplomatic relations with only three nations. Nine nations broke off relations with the ROC. The damage inflicted is serious. The Chen regime was overconfident and provocative, and Beijing retaliated. Take two examples on Huang Chih-fang's watch. Last year we established relations with of St. Lucia, with a population of 10 million. One month later Beijing established relations with key Central American ally Costa Rica. Two years ago, Chen Shui-bian embarked on his infamous "Lost Voyage." When his plane wound up in Libya, North Africa, he spun the fiasco as a major diplomatic breakthrough. A few months later, Beijing retaliated by establishing relations with Chad. At the same time he deliberately timed his visit to coincide with the eve of Su Tseng-chang's state visit, causing Su embarrassment. The Chen Shui-bian regime has made tiny gains at the cost of huge losses. Its monumental folly has merely underscored its shortcomings.
Checkbook diplomacy has degenerated from a "necessary evil" to a "noxious evil." Leave aside the fact that many nations, once they tasted blood, played Beijing and Taipei off each other. As these nations evolve politically, they no longer stay bought. In recent years checkbook diplomacy has become the target of opposition party and international news media attacks. The money corrupts our allies' political process and props up authoritarian rulers. Used improperly, it can become an tool to suppress democracy and human rights. In recent years, Taipei's checkbook diplomacy has become a major factor in undermining our image. The PNG scandal has swallowed up hard-earned taxpayers dollars and turned us into an international laughing stock. Aren't the defects of checkbook diplomacy clear enough by now?
To speculate about a cross-strait diplomatic truce may seem Quixotic. But in fact all it would take is a shift in perspective. Lee Teng-hui's Two States Theory and Chen Shui-bian's Rectification of Names movement led cross-strait relations into a blind alley. Because of them, we wasted over 10 years on pointless confrontation, The two sides need to realize that such a zero-sum game does nothing to improve the overall situation. From an historical perspective, the melting of cross-strait ice is an unprecedented opportunity. Not only have leaders in Taipei and Beijing established a high degree of mutual goodwill, the results of elections on Taiwan have shown that most people look forward to peaceful exchanges across the Taiwan Strait. Under the circumstances, professional diplomats on both sides of the Taiwan Strait should have no difficulty finding a modus vivendi. There is simply no need to persist in this life and death struggle.
The new strategic scenario requires new thinking. President elect Ma Ying-jeou and his newly-appointed foreign minister Ou Hung-lian both advocate a diplomatic truce. This is a wise decision. How to implement such a truce in a manner that the two sides can accept and abide by, will require wisdom and creativity. The basic foundation should be the "1992 Consensus and One China, Different Interpretations." Since the Taiwan region is proudly ruled by the Republic of China government, there is no need to "Rectify Names and Author a New Constitution." The mainland will then be less inclined to undermine our support, to exclude us from international activies, to contain us, and to reduce our international breathing room. The two sides can then put their money and energy to far better domestic and international use. This is a win/win proposition.
The ice between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait is melting. The scent of spring fills the air. But economic and trade exchanges must include a diplomatic truce. Only then will cross-strait policy be complete. If billion dollar scandals can lead to a diplomatic truce, then the price paid will not be in vain.
2008.05.07 03:02 am
兩 岸在外交陣線的長年纏鬥，是冷戰年代的餘緒。台灣一直堅信，維持一定數目的邦交國是生存之必要；而中共則認為，若不在外交陣線極力打壓，台灣就會趁隙宣布 獨立。但時移勢易，當整個世界變得更平坦，當國與國之間的藩籬不斷後撤，兩岸經貿及交流的壁壘也逐漸拆除，雙方在外交上豈能不轉換一下思維？
對 內來看，國民黨的「金錢外交」曾飽受詬病，民進黨執政後改採「烽火外交」，不斷利用「衝撞戰略」激化敵我意識；其實，主要只是提供了陳水扁一個藉「元首外 交」延伸內鬥的豪奢舞台，從國家整體利益看卻是得不償失。八年來，台灣不僅在國際上留下「麻煩製造者」的形象，對我素來友善的美國更漸感不耐；此外，台灣 並未因「強攻」而得以突破加入任何國際組織，反而使中共加強圍堵，台灣在區域間益形邊緣化。
過 去八年，扁政府僅僅新增了三個友邦，卻丟了九個邦交國，可謂損傷慘重。其間，有多次是不自量力地挑釁，而遭到北京報復性的拔樁。只舉最近黃志芳任內的兩個 例子，一是去年我國與十幾萬人口的聖露西亞建交，一個多月後，中共即強取我中美洲重要友邦哥斯大黎加。二是兩年前陳水扁為遂行其全球大謎航降落北非的利比 亞，自以為是一大突破；但不數月，中共便奪取我非洲友邦查德作為報復，同時刻意將時間點選在閣揆蘇貞昌出訪前夕，使其難堪。扁政府這種因小失大、得一失三 的戰法，不僅愚不可及，簡直是自暴其短。
對外而言，金錢外交也逐漸由「必要之惡」淪為「可恥之惡」。撇開許多國家食髓知味在兩岸間游移要 索不談，隨著邦交國的民主進展，金錢所能買到的「邦交效期」也已越來越短，且近幾年不時成為反對黨及國際新聞媒體揭弊、攻伐的對象。金錢的介入，不僅汙染 對手國的政治，助長其貪官的威權，運用不當的話，更可能變成壓制對手國民主和人權的工具。近年來，金錢外交已成拖累台灣形象的一大因素，巴紐騙案除了糟蹋 納稅人的血汗錢，更讓我們淪為國際笑柄；金錢外交的為禍還不夠嗎？
兩岸之間要談「外交休兵」，看似艱難，其實也不過是一念之轉罷了。從李 登輝的「兩國論」到陳水扁的「正名運動」，將兩岸關係帶進了一個窄巷；也正因為這十多年的對峙與虛耗，兩岸更應深刻認識這種「零和遊戲」無助於彼此的大 局。而從歷史的縱深看，當前兩岸融冰的契機具備了前所未見的條件：不僅台北和北京領導人均抱高度的交流善意，台灣的民主選舉結果也顯示多數人民樂見兩岸和 平交往。有了這樣的基礎，兩岸外交人員應不難找到一個合適的和平共存之道，而沒有必要再繼續你死活我的廝殺。
新局的開創，需要新的思維。 新總統馬英九和新外長歐鴻鍊都主張「外交休兵」，這是對外交路線的務實反省；但如何將此一概念具體化，落實為兩岸可以接受並遵守的共識，則有賴雙方的智慧 和創意。基本的概念可包括：在「九二共識／一中各表」的基礎上，台灣原即是堂堂正正的中華民國，因此不須再有「正名制憲」；中共則停止挖我牆腳，停止在國 際活動中對台灣打壓圍堵，不再阻撓台灣拓展「國際空間」。如此一來，兩岸皆可將金錢與精力用於經營更有益於自己內部及國際社會的事務，這便是雙贏的棋局。