Friday, November 6, 2009

Taiwan-China Relations : A Strait Too Far

Taiwan-China Relations : A Strait Too Far
By Erick San Juan
The potential for war between the two long-time rivals - a flashpoint in the region - still very much exists, as indicated in Taiwan's views of the military situation highlighted in the island's recently released defense report.
The report issued by Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense last week said the number of China's missiles targeted at the island now amount to 1,500. This is up from an estimated 800 a year or two ago. In terms of short-range missiles, there are 1,300 aimed at the island that lies just 160 kilometers (100 miles) away at the closest point. (From : “More missiles across strait” By Cindy Sui, Asia Times Online)
In this scenario, one will think that the one China policy efforts of both parties will be in vain no matter how hard they tried for the past year to bridge the gap. Although a lot were achieved through cross-strait talks like the exchange of tourists and several economic activities. But the fact remains that China’s military power is steadily intensifying and can be felt not only at the strait but in this part of the world and thus making everybody nervous. Although this should not be viewed as if Taiwan is not capable when it comes to military might. “Five months after Ma came to power, Taiwan purchased its biggest arms package from the United States since 1979,” Sun noted. (Sun Yang-ming, vice president of the Cross-Strait Interflow Prospect Foundation, a policy think-tank to the Taiwanese government.) As a whole, Taiwan’s “friendly relations” with Washington is somewhat another key factor to consider in Taiwan ’s sovereignty and the realization of the one-China dream.
It is quite obvious that China ’s military power is no match with that of Taiwan ’s but the Washington factor is that aspect that had to be considered because the American policy now will affect Taiwan ’s decision in its foreign relations especially with China .
Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou’s situation now is somewhat similar with our present administration in dealing with both US and China, and how these two giants affected the government’s policies – both foreign and economic. Our leaders must have a strong political will in the midst of conflicting ideologies and a clear objective as to where these relations will lead our country. We should take the cue from what is happening in Taiwan when it comes to military support from the US , we should avoid being shortchanged and be left behind after they got what they want.
Let us always be guided with the geostrategy games being played by the two giants in this region or we will be caught flat-footed in the end, so to speak. I’m sure the present administration will leave a legacy that she played her cards well in dealing with US and China.
As for China and Taiwan relations, it is still a “strait too far”, i.e. its unification.

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