Taiwan uses technological know-how to build relationships with other democracies

The Taiwanese government is looking to use the momentum to restructure the global supply chain away from China to build more substantive relationships with other democracies and to counter Beijing’s efforts to international isolation. Terrible.

President Tsai Ing-wen is eyeing what she calls a “new blue ocean” strategy for Taiwan’s international relations that will require a more nimble foreign policy that focuses on areas such as technology and investment partnerships instead of relying solely on open and traditional diplomatic channels. representative officeaccording to three senior officials.

“The president believes we need to focus on specific opportunities and develop deep relationships there,” one of the officials said. They added that this could be in the areas of business and culture or “a strategic opportunity with a particular region”.

Taiwan has been fighting for space in the international diplomatic arena since most major countries switched recognition from Taipei to Beijing in the 1970s. China claims Taiwan as part of its territory. and threat of invasion it if Taipei refuses to reunify indefinitely. While Taiwan has full diplomatic relations with only 14 countries today, it retains representative offices that normally function as embassies in 60 countries.

Previous Taiwanese governments have tried to prevent tides of isolation through various strategies, such as seeking compromises with China or buying loyalty. However, it remains dependent on the US for security and on China for most of its trade.

Meanwhile, Beijing is increasingly preventing Taiwan’s participation in international organizations and forced company and non-governmental groups engage with Taiwan only on Beijing’s terms.

On Monday, Tsai pledged in his Lunar New Year message that Taiwan would “continue to deepen exchanges with all countries [and] out into the world with big steps”.

Taipei believes that making itself indispensable in as many economic and political partnerships with foreign countries as possible will be more effective against Chinese pressure than conventional diplomatic approaches.

“It looks like the technology war will continue. And due to Covid-19, people will also want to make some changes. Previously, most of the global supply chain was in China. Now part of that will be spread elsewhere,” Kung Ming-hsin, minister of the National Development Council, said in an interview.

“We believe this is an important time for Taiwan as its companies have the most extensive supply chain experience. Maybe no one other than Taiwan can do this [as] good,” said Kung, who is in charge of the economic part of Tsai’s new foreign policy concept.

Taiwan has sent its companies and researchers to countries that are looking for ways diversify their supply chain and integrate them with partners in those locations. “It is a foreign policy relationship in which the public and private sectors work together. This is a new growth opportunity,” he said.

“In the past, governments would negotiate framework conditions for free trade, but after that, companies would just look for the cheapest price, and the role of governments would be minimal. Kung says such a relationship can easily be severed.

Now, the focus of Western governments is supply chain security and trust has created the need for constant talent exchange and involvement of research institutes of both sides. “The relationships that are built in this process will be much closer,” he said.

Taiwan’s immediate focus is Central and Eastern Europe. Following a business delegation Kung led to the region late last year, various companies are negotiating partnerships, such as for a slated electric bus for Lithuania.

As countries including Lithuania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia seek to tap into Taiwan’s strengths in semiconductors, Taipei also envisions partnerships between research institutes that could generate public companies. new technology that Taiwan will return to adopt $200 million investment fund and a $1 billion loan announced last month.

Next, Tsai called a plan to strengthen links with Europe more widely – a blueprint that Kung plans to work on over the next six months.

However, there are doubts about whether Taiwan’s bureaucracy is up to the task. A senior official said that Taiwan’s diplomats abroad often fail to find cooperation opportunities because they are too focused on official achievements such as opening a representative office.

Lo Chih-cheng, a lawmaker from the Democratic Progressive Party and a former international relations scholar, said: “We were too stressed about the offices and so the diplomatic staff of We are often tied to administrative work.

A senior State Department official said: “We recognize that business appears to be playing a much larger role in our relationship with Europe, but any structural adjustment Our office there will be very small in number and very slow.”

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