‘One China’ policy a bane to Taiwan’s trade
TAIPEI — Taiwanese officials consider the “One China” policy as a challenge to the country’s push to boost trade and cultural ties with its southern neighbors, including the Philippines.
Taiwan launched its New Southbound Policy last year to forge socioeconomic cooperation and people-to-people exchanges with Southeast and South Asian countries, and Australia and New Zealand.
To sustain the momentum, Taiwan’s Executive Yuan (Cabinet) is allotting NT$7.19 billion for its implementation next year.
Y.C. Tsai, negotiator at the Office of Trade Negotiations, pointed to two challenges facing the implementation of the policy: China’s “interference” and the One China policy adopted by partner-countries, including the Philippines.
“Two things,” he told a group of Asian journalists here. “The first thing is that the interference from mainland China, and the One China policy adopted by our partner-countries might defer the implementation of the policy.”
When pressed to cite specific instances of Chinese interference, Tsai declined to go into details.
The Chinese Embassy in Manila did not respond to requests for comment on the matter.
China has demanded that Taiwan accept the One China policy, but the latter has maintained that it was open to bilateral talks on the matter without “political preconditions,” Taiwanese officials said.
Much of the world, including the Philippines and the United States, do not recognize Taiwan as an independent country in order to keep diplomatic relations with China, which considers Taiwan as a breakaway province to be reunified with the mainland someday.
While observing the One China policy, however, many countries keep robust unofficial ties with Taiwan through trade or cultural offices.
Tsai said that One China policy was a general principle adopted by some countries, and should be based on an individual country’s “best interest.”
“One China policy should present the best interest for individual countries,” he said.
“I would encourage all the partner-countries in this region not to be bound by the principle; cooperation must be based on mutual interest.”
Tsai made it clear that Taiwan wasn’t competing with China’s own initiatives by implementing its New Southbound Policy, which seeks mutually beneficial cooperation with its partner-countries.
“Actually the New Southbound Policy was framed based on our need; also based on the need from our partners. We had never thought we would like to use this policy to compete with any policy implemented by the other countries, including Belt and Road initiative by China,” he said.
Angelito Banayo, chair of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office in Taiwan, however, said that the policy would prosper despite the Philippines’ One China policy.
“Because the One China policy proscribes political as well as military agreements between the two countries, but not economic or cultural,” he said in an interview on the sidelines of Asia Pacific Cultural Day here.
Taiwan and its closest southern neighbor, the Philippines, have eyed cooperation in the energy, agriculture and education sectors, among others, as well as people-to-people exchanges under the New Southbound Policy.
Tsai said that both governments were now crafting a mechanism “to strengthen the investment” between them. —With a report from Dona Z. Pazzibugan, Philippine Daily Inquirer
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