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Abe’s Diplomatic Curve vs. the Tsai Gov’t’s Rigid Straight Line



Abe’s Diplomatic Curve vs. the Tsai Gov’t’s Rigid Straight Line


United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan)


July 23, 2020

 Translation of an Excerpt



Just as the Liberal Democratic Party passed a resolution calling for the cancellation of Xi Jinping’s visit to Japan, the Japanese government decided to provide 70 billion yen in subsidies to 87 Japanese companies to withdraw from Mainland China and transfer production lines to Japan or Southeast Asian countries. After the Ishigaki City Council passed a resolution on renaming Diaoyutai Island, the dispute over the sovereignty of Diaoyutai Island between China and Japan has escalated: Mainland China government ships repeatedly entered for several days the territorial waters of Diaoyutai, and the Japanese government demanded that China stop harassing acts against Japanese fishing boats. This year was originally a crucial year for reconciliation in Sino-Japanese relations; judging from the recent developments, it seems that the tone has gradually changed.


Since Prime Minister Abe came to power for the second time in 2012, owing to the extreme fear of the military rise of China, plus Japan’s high dependence on the Mainland market, and the effects of the shadow of the US-China trade war, Japan-China relations are not a monotonous straight line, but rather a curve swinging between the United States and China. This curve, with the pull between the US-China confrontation and Japan's national interests, fluctuates from time to time up and down and sideways. Japan's economic interests are its upper limit, and the defense of Japan's territory and sovereignty is its bottom line. The trend of public opinion in Japan is the driving force for the swing in the curve. Constant swing adjustments have allowed Japan to negotiate the waters between the two big powers of the United States and China, avoiding being at the forefront of contending with China, and also making Abe's China policy more flexible.


Then turn the perspective back to Taiwan. After the Tsai government came to power, under the strategic thinking of "coalescing with the United States in countering China," it followed and cooperated step by step with the US anti-China policy. Starting last year, the Tsai government has regarded the Hong Kong issue as an ATM for election ballots, and disregarding domestic public opinion, it regarded the pandemic as a barrier separating the two sides of the Strait, preventing Taiwan compatriots and the kids of their Mainland spouses from returning to Taiwan. These actions have made cross-Strait relations like a rigid draping straight line, becoming not flexible at all, and even leaving no wiggle room. On the South China Sea issue, the US government announced that it would not recognize the nine-dash line sovereignty and downgraded Taiping Island as a "reef"; instead of protesting, the Foreign Ministry even welcomed it. In order to cater to the United States, even sovereignty can be jettisoned. This mentality is incredible.


In order to coalesce with the US against China on the South China Sea issue, not caring about losing sovereignty over Taiping Island, does the Tsai government really have a sense of national sovereignty?


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