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【評論】新年新挑戰,台灣應從非官方互動對抗中國打壓

熱門議題
2018-03-01 | 總統蔡英文於2016年出訪當時仍是邦交國的巴拿馬

台灣在2018年將會面臨許多國際性的挑戰,其中一個挑戰是中國對台灣的外交承認。自從蔡英文當選,在馬英九當政期間建立的非正式外交休戰走到盡頭,已有兩個國家因中國而與台灣斷交:聖多美普林西比和巴拿馬。目前,僅有20個國家與台灣建交,而有些人預期會有更多的國家跟隨巴拿馬的腳步,轉與中國建交。這主要歸因於中國的發展和經濟影響。那麼台灣應該為此擔憂嗎?
 

「sao tome and principe taiwan」的圖片搜尋結果
聖多美普林西比在2016年與台灣斷交。圖片取自影片截圖

首先,台灣擔心失去所有邦交的恐懼已不是什麼新鮮事。特別是中國願意對別的國家提供比以往更多的資助和投資,因此我們可以假設這是台灣無法、也不會抗衡的。不過,正如喬爾·阿特金森教授所指出,2017年台灣大部分的邦交國和1989年與台灣建交的國家大致相同。雖然有一些國家轉轉與中國建交,但是也有一些國家轉與台灣建交。 在任何一年中,僅有少數幾個國家改變了建交的方向。

其次,儘管中國政府如此說,但中國不太可能要所有台灣的邦交國一次性全部與台灣斷交。中國官員擔心,這樣做可能會更加煽動台獨。也可能會引起台灣政府做出更多有爭議的努力,包括將台灣國名更改為台灣共和國的憲法轉變。即使不那麼極端,一個中國原則看起來是在懲罰台灣身份,這也很難鼓勵台灣人支持最終的統一。 比起吸引台灣所有的外交伙伴,中國似乎更傾向於戰略性的選定目標國家以挫敗台灣的外交努力。

 
「taiwan independence」的圖片搜尋結果
中國不太可能要所有台灣的邦交國一次性全部與台灣斷交。中國官員擔心,這樣做可能會更加煽動台獨。

第三,有些國家似乎對台灣滿意。以前的研究表明,隨著國家越來越以出口為導向,比起承認台灣,他們更願意承認中國。不過,有些國家擔心中國的影響太大,帛琉官員提出這樣的擔憂讓他們決定依舊保持與台灣而不是中國的外交關系。而諾魯等其他國家卻因以中國對他們的承諾援助從未實現,因此又從承認中國而轉回承認台灣。即使在中國提供了數十億美元的援助之后,剩下的兩個與台灣保持外交關系的非洲國家也表示,他們與中華民國的關係是「具體的」。而且,儘管台灣失去了巴拿馬這個外交伙伴,台灣與中美五國的正式關係也看似穩定,這不僅與歷史聯系有關,更是因為台灣的投資,雙邊自由貿易協定和台灣地區政府間組織在財政上的支持。台灣也為大洋洲的許多地區組織做出了貢獻,這可能有助於穩定台灣與太平洋地區之間的關係。

最後,雖然正式的外交承認加強了台灣主權主張,但非官方關係的重要性不容忽視。 台灣與包括美國在內的五十多個國家保持著非正式的關係,其辦事處除了名字不是大使館以外,其作用幾乎相當於一般的大使館。 這些非官方的關係除了為加強經濟關係和台灣的安全提供了支柱,其中台灣的安全尤其重要,而台灣的正式外交伙伴因為許多甚至沒有自己的軍隊,因此不能為台灣提供安全保証以抗衡不斷增強的中國軍隊。

作者們認為,非官方的外交關係,重要性不容忽視。圖為外交部大廳,來源:維基百科

2018年,是否會有另一個國家與台灣斷交?可能吧,但這不應該被視為危機,而應該被視為一個能加強現有的正式關係與非官方關係的機會。如果一個國家確實與台灣斷絕了外交關係,那麼台灣應該將固有的資源,重新分配給其他的夥伴國,並特別加強有形的互惠關係,例如深化貿易關係。

台灣也應該避免把自己視為受害者,稱呼承認中華民國的國家為緊密盟友(allies),這種敘述方式不僅鼓勵外交魯莽的行為,也會讓中國更著力於削弱台灣主權。就非官方關係而言,促進城市間的往來,可以替國際關係打下深厚基礎,例如台灣近期與印度的往來。更廣泛地說,台灣可以用教育來增強對他國認知,來提升國家的軟實力。

 
 
 


芮宗泰(Timothy S. Rich)為西肯塔基大學政治系副教授,其研究領域為東亞民主選舉政治。

戴美嫻(Andi Dahmer)西肯塔基大學榮譽學院學生,主修經濟、國際關係及亞洲宗教與文化。

英文原稿:

Taiwan will face many international challenges in 2018, one being the continued challenge by China to Taiwan’s diplomatic recognition. Since the election of Tsai Ing-wen and the ending of the informal diplomatic truce established during Ma Ying-jeou’s presidency, two countries have broken relations with Taiwan for China: Sao Tome and Principe and Panama. Currently, only twenty countries recognize Taiwan and some individuals expect more countries to follow Panama’s example by also switching diplomatic recognition to the PRC. This is especially true due to China’s growth and economic clout. Should Taiwan be worried?

First, fears that Taiwan would lose all formal diplomatic recognition are not new. With China willing to provide more aid and investment to countries than ever before, the assumption was that Taiwan simply could not or would not compete. However, as Professor Joel Atkinson points out, most of Taiwan’s diplomatic partners in 2017 were the same countries that maintained diplomatic recognition with Taiwan in 1989. Several countries have switched to China; however, some have also switched back to Taiwan. There have not been more than a few countries changing sides in any given year.

Secondly, despite rhetoric from the Chinese government, it is unlikely that China wants all of Taiwan’s diplomatic partners to leave at once. To do so, Chinese officials fear, would likely encourage greater pro-independence sentiment in Taiwan. It may also produce more controversial efforts from the Taiwanese government, including perhaps a constitutional change of the country’s name to the Republic of Taiwan. Even at a less extreme, a China that appears to be punishing Taiwanese identity will have great difficulty encouraging the same Taiwanese people to support eventual unification. Rather than lure all of Taiwan’s diplomatic partners, China appears to be more willing to strategically target countries in order to frustrate Taiwan’s diplomatic efforts.

Third, some countries seem content with Taiwan. Previous research suggests that as countries become more export-oriented, they are more willing to recognize China over Taiwan. However, some countries are worried about too much Chinese influence, a concern that officials from Palau suggested influenced their decision to remain diplomatic partners with Taiwan instead of China. Others, such as Nauru, switched to China with promises of aid that they claim never materialized and thus switched back to Taiwan. Even after a multi-billion-dollar Chinese aid offer, the two remaining African countries with which Taiwan maintains diplomatic relations have also stated that their relations with the ROC are “concrete.” Furthermore, despite the loss of Panama, Taiwan’s formal relations with five countries in Central America appear stable, aided not only by historical ties but by Taiwanese investment, bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs), and regional intergovernmental organizations that Taiwan supports financially. Taiwan also contributes to many regional organizations in Oceania which may help to stabilize their relations in the pacific region.

Lastly, while formal diplomatic recognition reinforces Taiwan’s claims to sovereignty, the importance of unofficial relations should not be ignored. Taiwan maintains unofficial relations with over 50 countries, including the US, and their offices function as embassies in all but name. These unofficial relations provide the backbone for increased economic relations, but also Taiwan’s security, which is especially important since Taiwan’s formal diplomatic partners cannot provide security assurances from a growing Chinese military as many do not even have a military themselves.

Will another country break diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 2018? Probably, but this should not be viewed as crisis, but as an opportunity to strengthen existing formal relations and enhancing unofficial relations. If a country does break relations, Taiwan should reallocate aid to existing partners and specifically target tangible mutual benefits such as enhancing trade. Taiwan should also avoid a victimization narrative of calling recognizing countries “allies” as this not only encourages rash behavior but also benefits Chinese efforts to frame Taiwanese sovereignty as weakening. In terms of unofficial relations, promoting city-to-city relations can provide the basis for deeper long-term connections as seen recently with India. More broadly, Taiwan can expand its soft power through the promotion of educational opportunities that improve the perception of Taiwan abroad.


Timothy S. Rich (芮宗泰) is an associate professor of political science at Western Kentucky University. His main area of research focuses on the electoral politics in East Asian democracies.

Andi Dahmer (戴美娴)is an Honors undergraduate researcher at Western Kentucky University majoring in Economics, International Affairs, Spanish, and Asian Religions and Cultures.
 


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*封面圖片取自總統府

作者

芮宗泰、戴美嫻

芮宗泰(左)為西肯塔基大學政治系副教授,其研究領域為東亞民主選舉政治;戴美嫻(右)為西肯塔基大學榮譽學院學生,主修經濟、國際關係及亞洲宗教與文化。

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