The Taiwan Protests: Regional and Economic Implications
The occupation of Taiwan's Legislative Yuan and the related mass protests have revealed intense popular opposition to the Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement with China. The Diplomat speaks with Bonnie Glaser about the roots of this opposition, and what these protests might mean for cross-strait relations and Taiwan's future trade negotiations.
Double Down on Taiwan
Julia Famularo, Terri Giles | April 1, 2014
Taiwan’s democratic experience, scientific and technological expertise, world-class health care system, and humanitarian assistance have made valuable contributions to people around the world. If Taiwan’s voice is extinguished in the international community, the United States will lose an essential democratic economic and security partner. It is in the U.S. interest to expand Taiwan’s international space by facilitating Taiwan's participation as a member or observer in existing international organizations such as the United Nations, Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Although some progress was made last year regarding Taiwanese participation in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), China insisted that Taiwan participate as a “guest” at the 38th ICAO Assembly. The United States had hoped that Taiwan could participate as an observer. Ad-hoc invitations from China that require annual approval set a poor precedent for consistent, meaningful Taiwanese participation.
Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Asia expert Bonnie S. Glaser wrote an excellent article for The National Interest regarding the current state of Taiwanese participation in international organizations. She argues that the “United States should work with other nations to revise or amend the charters or rules of membership for key international organizations so that Taiwan can join in some capacity without raising sovereignty matters. Legal obstacles to Taiwan’s expanded participation can thereby be removed and opportunities can be created for non-sovereign entities to become observers or gain some official standing. This would not fully resolve the issue of Taiwan’s international space, but it would be a helpful interim measure that would enable Taiwan to increase its participation while its international status remains ambiguous.”
Furthermore, Washington should “take concrete steps to support Taiwan’s expanded role in organizations in which it is already a party but has difficulty security meaningful participation, such as the WHO. In discussions with Beijing, US officials should emphasize that China hurts its own goals with Taiwan by its grudging approach to the issue of Taiwan’s international space. Finally, the U.S. should assist Taiwan to make the necessary structural adjustments so it can make gains toward TPP standards and prepare for eventual membership.” Such steps are crucial to make sure that Taiwan, a valuable U.S. partner and reliable stakeholder, can make positive future contributions to the international community.
The United States must act decisively in 2014 to ensure regional peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. It should consequently take immediate steps to strengthen its partnerships with democratic friends and allies, including Taiwan.
Julia Famularo is a Research Affiliate at the Project 2049 Institute. Terri Giles is Executive Director at the Formosa Foundation.