time

Why Taiwan's Future Matters

By SU CHI January 12, 2012

FOR most of its history, Taiwan’s destiny was determined by three great powers — China, Japan and America. Now, as the 18th-largest economy in the world and a thoroughly democratized nation, Taiwan is still perceived by some in Washington as a potential bargaining chip in crafting a new relationship with China. This is a mistake.

It is true that Taiwan’s status is the only dispute today that is likely to drag America and China into war. Similarly, a democratic Taiwan worries “realist” strategic thinkers who fear the consequences if it declares independence. But since 2008, when Taiwan began to stabilize its once volatile relations with China, it has become an even greater asset for the United States — and an inspiration for democratizing forces in mainland China.

After years of saber-rattling in Beijing and Taipei’s drive for independence, President Ma Ying-jeou’s May 2008 declaration of “no unification, no independence, and no use of force” calmed all sides. Taiwan and China have since engaged in numerous de facto government-to-government talks and greatly expanded people-to-people exchanges. With $130 billion worth of trade and seven million visits annually across the Taiwan Strait, the impact on both societies could be enormous.

Indeed, as China and Taiwan have grown ever more economically integrated, Taiwan has also become a model for China’s future. No longer perceived as a menace to China’s national unity, Taiwan’s value as an example for China began to emerge, particularly when it came to market reforms, popular culture and press freedom. And this new model arrived at a fortuitous juncture.

After 1949, Communist China’s first 30 years were engulfed in revolutionary fervor, internal power struggles and poverty. Its second 30 years witnessed rapid economic growth, which catapulted the country to the second largest economy in the world. The third stage, which may well last another 30 years, given China’s huge size, is most likely to be marked by a race between popular demands for participation in the political process and the Communist Party’s response to these demands. This is a bumpy path Taiwan has trod. In the past three decades, Taiwan has discarded authoritarianism and moved from martial law to the rule of law, experiencing impressive economic growth and political liberalization. Authoritarian China now finds itself uncomfortably strained as inland provinces are struggling for economic growth while urban areas are boldly stretching out to explore the boundaries of political control, forcing the Communist Party to experiment with limited reforms.

Herein lies Taiwan’s new value. While China’s economic influence on Taiwan is growing, many in China find Taiwan’s experience with democratization, warts and all, instructive. Long resentful of prevalent corruption at home, they have watched Taiwan tackle corruption within its government, even at the highest levels. They have seen how successfully Taiwan combined modernity with Chinese traditions. And they have observed how Taiwan’s people freely express their will through noisy public discussion and regular elections. Last month, debates among Taiwan’s presidential candidates were even carried by social media inside China.

Taiwan will of course need to resolve its internal political disagreements. After all, some in Taiwan are not yet convinced that a push for independence would be misguided. However, such a move would court disaster, incur disfavor with the international community, and seriously undermine Taiwan’s newfound attraction to many Chinese people as a democratic model.

The winner of Taiwan’s presidential election on Jan. 14 should therefore strive to forge a new domestic consensus between opposing camps on the island’s political relationship with China while ensuring Taiwan a more dignified place in world politics commensurate with the contributions it can make.

Long locked in indignant isolation but enormously proud of their democratic achievements, Taiwan’s people must now accept that democracy endows them with greater responsibility for regional stability. They could start by playing a more constructive role in the evolving American-Chinese relationship by becoming an interlocutor on issues that affect all three parties, like disputes over the South China Sea.

All of this will require innovative thinking and skillful management. If either side or the United States mishandles the relationship by attempting a diplomatic or even military shortcut, it could spell disaster for all parties. But if China and Taiwan establish a sufficient degree of mutual trust, Taiwan can remain an indispensable ally for the United States and a model for China’s future.

Su Chi, the chairman of the Taipei Forum, served as secretary general of Taiwan’s National Security Council from 2008 to 2010.

 Why Taiwan's Future Matters PDF

台北觀點
 
相關媒體報導
2015.05.26
孫亞夫:兩岸關係勿拖回2008年前動盪的老路
2015.05.26
孫亞夫:兩岸倒退 將寸步難行
2015.05.26
孫亞夫:破壞92共識 將寸步難行
2015.05.25
台北论坛基金会举行两岸新局研讨会
2015.05.25
紅藍綠台北聚首 熱議變動中的兩岸新局
2015.05.25
預言中美關係不穩 朱雲漢「對兩岸未來走向非常憂慮」
2015.05.25
孫亞夫: 堅持九二共識 反對台獨
2015.05.25
蘇起:兩岸今年變化尤其多 影響大更難談
2015.05.25
變動中的兩岸新局 會是峰廻路轉的
2015.05.25
變動中的兩岸新局 回顧與前瞻研討會
2015.04.05
「台灣靠外貿 怎可當中國不存在?」
2015.04.05
兩岸政策菁英班 藍綠你儂我儂
2014.01.04
兩岸菁英研習班 擬組團訪陸
2014.01.04
兩岸菁英研習班 擬組團訪陸
2014.01.04
Politicians planning a visit to China
2014.01.03
赴陸參訪夯 政務官立委興趣高
2014.01.03
赴陸參訪夯 政務官立委興趣高
2014.01.03
赴陸參訪夯 政務官、立委興趣高
2014.01.03
赴陸參訪夯 政務官立委興趣高
2014.01.03
赴陸參訪夯 政務官立委興趣高
2014.01.03
兩岸/赴陸參訪夯 政務官立委興趣高
2014.01.03
赴陸參訪夯 政務官立委興趣高
2013.01.03
赴陸參訪夯 政務官立委興趣高
2013.01.03
赴陸參訪夯 政務官立委興趣高
2014.01.03
四月赴大陆参访 台湾政务官和“立委”兴趣高
2013.05.07
引進陸媒 王郁琦:江個人看法
2013.05.07
郭正亮:辜汪模式已不夠用
2013.05.07
蕭萬長:解政治分歧時機不成熟
2013.05.07
劉兆玄:兩岸應設智庫化解歧見
2013.05.07
蘇起:兩岸政治談判時機未成熟
2013.05.07
蕭萬長:時機不成熟 促社會網路多元對話
2013.05.07
孫亞夫 盼創造兩岸政治對話條件
2013.05.07
邱進益披露 裸身談判內幕
2013.05.07
治媒體亂象 江丙坤建議引進央視 學者批無知
2013.05.07
孫亞夫 在台嗆談一中反獨
2013.05.07
江丙坤促談和平協議 蕭萬長不認同
2013.05.07
蘇起:兩岸實力往陸傾斜 令人憂
2013.04.30
辜汪會談20周年座談 蘇起:以拖待變 恐虛化兩岸關係
2013.04.30
紀念辜汪會談20年 紅藍台北聚首回顧展望
2013.04.29
啟動兩岸政治談判? 藍營認不宜
2013.04.29
辜汪20週年紀念座談 吹儉樸風吃便當
2013.04.28
辜汪20年座談會 兩岸政治對話成焦點
2013.04.28
台北論壇舉辦辜汪會談紀念活動
2013.04.28
辜汪會談20周年 影響兩岸關係深遠
2013.04.28
蕭萬長:現階段沒政治談判條件
2012.07.19
洪博培:兩岸交流 台灣在教育大陸
2012.07.19
洪博培:勤奮人民與民主價值 台灣實力強大
2012.07.19
美前駐中大使洪博培:中國第五代領導人 較強勢霸道
2012.07.19
洪博培台北演講 大談最愛臭豆腐泡菜
2012.07.19
洪博培:台美共享價值關係密切
2012.07.19
耳聞棄台 洪博培:美台關係緊密
2012.07.19
美前駐北京大使:陸第5代領導人 可能更難搞
2012.04.28
創台北論壇 蘇起謙稱書生夢
 2012.03.28
前美國安會官員貝德:美國不會放棄台灣
2012.03.28
前美國安會官員貝德:美國不會放棄台灣
2012.03.28
美前國安會官員:棄台「想都不用想」


                                                 more
台北論壇 11077 台北市信義區忠孝東路五段510號12樓之2
電話 : 2726-0855 ∣ E-Mail :service@taipeiforum.org.tw
 © 台北論壇
網站地圖 Site Map