時論廣場》這樣的外交成績單能換取選票？（方恩格 Ross Darrell Feingold）
而過去這兩個月，臺灣國際場合，如國際刑警組織大會（儘管東道主國印度曾聲明希望與臺灣建立更密切的雙邊關係，但似乎對臺灣爲受邀保持緘默），白宮主辦的第二屆反勒索軟體倡議、聯合國第27屆氣候峰會 （COP 27）、金邊東亞峰會和在峇里島舉行的G20會議，臺灣都被拒爲門外。 11月17日，美國前總統歐巴馬舉辦了民主論壇，臺灣亦未受邀，而外交部只能說「我國與美國各NGO及專業機構都保持友好連繫，若有具體結果，相關單位會適時說明」。臺灣政府只好在這些國際場合之間想辦法發聲，像是在會議進行的會場旁邊另開一個「場邊會議」來爲自己爭一口氣。也有不少臺灣的官員向海外媒體投書，高喊讓臺灣加入、自我宣傳臺灣的相關價值，但很遺憾都於事無補。
Taiwan Local Election: A Foreign Policy Election?
By Ross Darrell Feingold
Former Asia Chairman, Republicans Abroad
Given the amount of foreign policy activities in Taiwan recently, one might think that the local election (not a “mid-term” election as some foreign journalist and scholars mistakenly describe it) on November 26 is about foreign policy rather than issues of local governance, and that the Democratic Progressive Party also hopes voters consider the central government’s foreign policy achievements when deciding which candidate to vote for.
From countries that recognize the Republic of China, the leaders of Eswatini, Nauru, Palau, St. Kitts and Nevis visited Taipei, and Vice President William Lai visited Palau. The United Kingdom Minister of State for Trade Policy Greg Hands visited Taiwan for bilateral trade talks. Lithuania finally opened its trade office in Taipei, and, the United States and Taiwan held the first negotiations of the US-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade.
Parliamentarians from Canada, Germany, India, Japan, Ukraine, and the United States among other countries visited Taipei in October and November, and local government lawmakers also visited Taiwan, such as a delegation from Okinawa.
Taiwan government officials, legislators, and scholars hosted or participated in a number of forums in Taipei, including the Yushan Forum, the World Movement for Democracy Global Assembly, International Conference on PRC’s Power Shift and Governance, the Oslo Freedom Forum, and a Japan, US, Taiwan lawmakers trilateral security dialogue.
However, these developments, if they were an attempt to introduce foreign policy “success” into the local election campaign, appear to put quantity over quality.
A United Kingdom Minister of State (similar to a deputy minister in Taiwan) visit to Taiwan is not unprecedented. Of more concern in Taiwan-UK relations is whether budget considerations may preclude new Prime Minister Rushi Sunak from following through on Boris Johnson’s plans for a robust British military presence in the Indo Pacific. Sunak’s recent statement that the United Kingdom refuses to rule out sending arms to Taiwan is not the same as actually selling arms to Taiwan, and in fact, Taiwan media reported in October that the United Kingdom denied an export permit for two rifles to be used by President Tsai’s protection detail.
The many recent “conferences”, “dialogues” and “forums” in Taipei attract little global attention. At the Yushan Forum, speakers former Australia foreign minister Julie Bishop, former New Zealand deputy prime minister of New Zealand Winston Peters, and former Thai Deputy Prime Minister Phongthep Thepkanjana are critics of their home country government. At the World Movement for Democracy Global Assembly, speaker Nobel Prize winner Maria Ressa is similarly a government critic. Inviting such critics to events in Taipei has the risk of a negative effect on those countries relations with Taiwan. Despite hopes earlier this year that basketball player and human rights advocate Enes Freedom would attend the Oslo Freedom Forum in person, he did not come to Taipei.
Although these events in Taiwan might be popular with American, European and Japanese government officials or lawmakers, government officials and lawmakers from Asean countries mostly stay away. Recent statements by Singapore’s Senior Minister & Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean, and Deputy Prime Minister (and future Prime Minister) Lawrence Wong drew a contrast between Singapore’s support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and why it does not apply to Taiwan, and reiterated Singapore’s neutrality in China-US disputes. Former Malaysia Prime Minister Mahatir Mohamad also recently criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei as it “increased tension” and was “a provocation”.
Taiwan was again excluded from multilateral events in October and November including the Interpol General Assembly (host country India, despite hopes in Taiwan it wants a closer bilateral relationship appears to have been silent about Taiwan’s exclusion), the International Counter Ransomware Initiative Summit at the White House, the Sharm el-Sheikh Climate Change Conference (COP 27), the East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh, and the G20 meeting in Bali. It appears that former President Barack Obama did not invite a prominent Taiwan participant to a democracy forum his foundation hosted on November 17. The pity party events hosted by the Taiwan government on the sidelines of multilateral events, the letters Taiwan government officials publish in overseas media to plead for Taiwan’s participation in multilateral meetings, or the various recent forums held in Taipei, do not remedy Taiwan’s exclusion from these events.
Lithuania’s office in Taipei opened nearly a year after Taiwan opened its office in Lithuania, and it followed a negative report in Lithuania state media that Taiwan is slow to make good on its promises to invest US$200,000,000 in the country’s tech sector (shortly after, Taiwan announced a small initial investment).
The US-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade is a mostly one-sided initiative for the United States to obtain concessions from Taiwan, and appears to rebrand the U.S.-Taiwan Economic Prosperity Partnership Dialogue announced in 2020 for which there was no substantive outcomes.
Recently the European Union began efforts to reduce tensions with China. Not only did German Chancellor Olaf Scholz visit China, but before that, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, said the escalation of tension in the Taiwan Strait “was triggered by an individual travel of a personality that brought the Taiwan Strait at the edge of – I would not say a war, but – a lot of war games”. This prompted Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to issue a rare public rebuke of Borrell.
In the US mid-term election, most Taiwan-friendly Members of Congress were re-elected. However, two lost their seats: Long time Taiwan-friend Steve Chabot (Republican of Ohio) and Elaine Luria (Democrat of Virginia), who in October 2021 authored a commentary in The Washington Post advocating to grant the US President authorty to send troops to assist Taiwan if there is war with China. Following the Xi Jinping – Joe Biden meeting, President Biden emphasized that the US opposes changes to the status quo by either side, a reminder to the Taiwan government that the Biden Administration’s “temporary restraining order” on Taiwan is still in place.
This author previously opined that Taiwan cannot achieve everything it wants in its foreign policy goals; in other words, countries treat Taiwan as a normal country rather than a country that deserves special treatment. Ongoing events continue to demonstrate this. Hopefully Taiwan’s voters will keep this in mind in the upcoming local election and vote based on who can best lead their local municipality and save foreign policy considerations for their vote in the presidential and legislative elections in January 2024.