United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
March 19, 2016
Executive Summary: Does Tsai Ing-wen intend to revert to the scorched earth diplomacy or checkbook diplomacy of old? How does she intend to reconcile cross-Strait relations and diplomatic strategy? Tsai needs a better understanding. After all, after May 20, everything will be her responsibility. She will no longer be able to pass the buck to the KMT. Gambia is not worth fretting over. But the remaining 22 diplomatic allies must be retained. How can we maintain our dignity on the international stage? That is not something green camp legislators can ensure by making snide remarks on talk shows.
Full Text Below:
Just when President Ma was visiting Central America, Beijing made a surprise announcement. It was establishing diplomatic relations with Gambia. Observers consider the move a warning from Beijing regarding Tsai Ing-wen's cross-Strait policy. DPP legislators insist that Beijing "slapped the Ma government in the face". The blue and green camps may have their own particular media spin. But as far as the nation is concerned, this was a warning. The eight year long cross-Strait diplomatic truce has come to an end. Once the two sides renew their diplomatic war, the flames are bound to spread to Central America. Which diplomatic allies can the ROC afford to lose?
In late 2013, Gambia cited “national strategy” as justification for its unilateral severing of relations with the ROC. Beijing however, refrained from immediately establishing diplomatic relations with Gambia. The main reason was the implicit cross-Strait diplomatic truce, and Beijing's desire to show goodwill toward the ROC. Now that Gambia's opportunistic diplomacy has succeeded, the Gambian model will become the way allies will get what they need from us. Therefore, the loss of Gambia is not worth fretting about, but its consequences are.
With the “Gambian Model", Beijing does not lure away our diplomatic allies. Instead, allies who covet Mainland financial aid, sever diplomatic relations with us on their own initiative, as a gesture of goodwill, in the hope that Beijing will acknowledge them. With the rise of the Mainland, many allies seem eager to follow suit. Suppose Beijing had announced the establishment of diplomatic relations with Gambia in 2013? Over the past two years, any number of countries might have followed suit, in exchange for foreign aid and trade cooperation. Clearly the Ma administration's eight year long cross-Strait diplomatic truce has benefited us, as has Beijing's goodwill.
For two and a half years, Beijing refused to establish diplomatic relations with Gambia. Today, it has suddenly reversed its position. To claim that it did so to embarrass Ma is absurd. It clearly did it to put pressure on Tsai Ing-wen. One. Gambia severed diplomatic relations with the ROC over two years ago. Beijing establishing relations with Gambia now, has no impact on the Ma government's diplomatic record of achievements. But the Gambian Model is applying immense pressure on the incoming Tsai government. Two. Tsai Ing-wen has yet to relent
and recognize the 1992 Consensus. This makes the Mainland deeply suspicious. Three. This offensive on the diplomatic front is accompanied by a reduction in Mainland tourists allowed to visit Taiwan and a halt to MTA and other negotiations. The goal is to force Tsai Ing-wen to revert to the cross-Strait framework affirmed by the 1992 Consensus.
The DPP has long been contemptuous of the Ma government's diplomatic truce. It claims it is evidence of a deficiency in fighting spirit. During the presidential election debate, Tsai Ing-wen lashed out at Ma, saying that eight years of diplomatic truce have made diplomats afraid to confront the CCP. To be fair, the diplomatic truce may indeed lull our diplomats into a false sense of peace, and make them lose sight of what we are fighting for. But is the Tsai government returning to the Chen government's scorched earth diplomacy, really a superior strategy?
During Lee Teng-hui's 12 years in office, the government squandered a fortune in taxpayer dollars on checkbook diplomacy. It bought five diplomatic allies for exorbitant sums of money. During Chen Shui-bian's eight years in office, the government adopted scorched earth diplomacy. The ROC subsequently lost six allies. All Chen did was reveal his own paranoia. During Ma Ying-jeou's eight years of diplomatic truce, all was quiet on the diplomatic front. Tjhat may have been "boring", but so far it only lost Gambia. How is this not a successful strategy? At the very least, the ROC need no longer wage diplomatic war, indiscriminately squander capital, and undermine its national dignity.
Alas, for many on Taiwan, peace has come too easily. They fail to cherish it. They even consider it boring. As a result, instead of appreciating visa-free passport treatment for Republic of China citizens, they apply “Nation of Taiwan” stickers to their passports, making it impossible for them to travel anywhere. Some in the UK have launched a Quixotic petition drive, demanding recognition of Taiwan as a country. The British government was forced to declare that it "does not recognize Taiwan as a state", and give them a slap in the face. During Ma Ying-jeou's trip, many DPP legislators appeared on TV, and openly mocked our allies as backward and corrupt. Do green camp legislators have the slightest appreciation for the importance of diplomacy?
Does Tsai Ing-wen intend to revert to the scorched earth diplomacy or checkbook diplomacy of old? How does she intend to reconcile cross-Strait relations and diplomatic strategy? Tsai needs a better understanding. After all, after May 20, everything will be her responsibility. She will no longer be able to pass the buck to the KMT. Gambia is not worth fretting over. But the remaining 22 diplomatic allies must be retained. How can we maintain our dignity on the international stage? That is not something green camp legislators can ensure by making snide remarks on talk shows.
此舉，外界解讀為北京對蔡英文兩岸路線的示警， 民進黨立委則堅稱是北京「打臉馬政府」。無論藍綠如何各說各話， 從國家的角度看，這是對八年來兩岸「外交休兵」默契破裂的預警。 一旦兩岸外交烽火再起，戰火勢必燒向中美洲， 台灣有哪些邦交國可以丟呢？
但北京卻未立即與它建交。其主要原因，正是基於兩岸「外交休兵」 的默契和善意，一旦甘比亞的外交投機得逞，「甘比亞模式」 將成為我邦交國爭相模仿鑽營的蹊徑。因此， 值得擔憂的不是甘比亞，而是它引發的後續效應。
而是覬覦中國大陸金援的我國友邦主動宣告與台灣斷交， 向對岸示好，以此爭取北京的承認。這在中國大陸崛起之後， 我不少邦交國已顯得躍躍欲試。試想，如果中共二○ 一三年即宣布與甘比亞建交，這兩年多來， 可能已有若干國家跟進投靠，以換取對岸的經貿援助和合作。 從這個觀點看，兩岸近八年在外交戰線相安無事，馬政府的「 外交休兵」策略確實發揮了功效，這當然也與北京的善意配合有關。
與其說是為了給馬政府難看，不如說是為了向蔡英文施壓。原因是： 第一，甘比亞與我國已斷交兩年多，北京與其建交， 不影響馬政府邦交成績；但「甘比亞模式」一出， 卻對即將就任的蔡英文構成高度壓力。第二， 蔡英文迄未鬆口承認九二共識，讓中共深感疑慮與戒懼。第三， 配合陸客來台緊縮、貨貿談判擱置等經貿手段， 再加上外交陣線的攻勢，目的都在迫使蔡英文就範， 回到九二共識的框架上來。
認為太缺乏鬥志。大選辯論期間，蔡英文更質問：八年外交休兵， 造成外交人員不知為何而戰，都在看中共臉色。持平而論，「 外交休兵」政策確實可能讓我外交人員陷入一種「和平幻覺」， 而失去戰鬥意識與戰鬥目標；問題是， 蔡英文若不選擇回到扁政府時代的「烽火外交」， 是否有更好的戰略？
為我國增加了五個邦交國，所費不貲。而陳水扁時代的八年， 則採取四處放火鬧事的「烽火外交」，讓台灣丟了六個邦交國， 只彰顯了他個人的偏執心志。馬英九的八年改採「外交休兵」， 外交陣線固因西線無戰事而顯得有些「無趣」， 但迄今僅丟了一個甘比亞，這難道不是戰略的成功？至少， 台灣不必再為邦交爭奪戰而胡亂揮霍金錢，甚至折損國家尊嚴。
甚至覺得平淡乏味。也因此， 在享有一百六十多國免簽的中華民國護照上， 有人硬要貼上什麼地方都去不了的「台灣國」貼紙；也因此， 不少人對英國某公民發起「承認台灣是一個國家」的連署充滿幻想， 最後的結果，卻只得到英政府「不承認台灣是一個國家」的巴掌。 在馬英九這次出訪期間，也有不少民進黨立委在電視上發表宏論， 開口閉口譏嘲我邦交國多麼落後、腐敗；這樣的綠營民代， 真的把外交當一回事嗎？
她對於台灣的兩岸關係和外交戰略要如何權衡， 必須有一套更完整的思維與作法。畢竟，五二○執政之後， 一切責任就必須自己承擔，不能再推給國民黨。甘比亞並不足惜， 但尚存的廿二個邦交國要如何維繫，台灣的國際尊嚴要如何維持， 都不是綠營立委那套連諷帶罵的脫口秀所足以應付。