Liu Shih-Chung, Director of the International Affairs Department at the DPP
Angela Stanzel, Policy Fellow (Asia & China)
On Friday, ECFR Berlin had the pleasure to host Shih-Chung Liu, Director of the Department of International Affairs of Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party for a BCM on Taiwan's current domestic and foreign policy development. A similar BCM with Mr. Liu has been hosted by ECFR Paris on 23 April. Liu compared Ukraine and Taiwan: in some similar ways, but differ too because a) Taiwan's own strong national identity (culture) distinguishes it much stronger from China than Ukraine from Russia; b) because cross-strait relations have developed into a buffer zone. Therefore, DPP acknowledges cross-strait relations are irreversible and ought to be maintained. During the so-called sunflower-movement (mainly a student protest movement against the KMT-government approved cross-strait Service and Trade Agreement), DPP aligned with the protesters. They called for a review of the agreement and a law supervising cross-border agreements. Although cross-strait relations improved, China's activities in the East China and South China Seas and their implications need a stronger assessment (Vietnam served as a wake-up call). Open discussions with China continues to be jeopardized by the government’s lack of flexibility to pursue objectives that would not directly benefit its economy.
Beijing perceives US under Obama as weak (also with view to Russia-Ukraine conflict) but is isolating itself (East China & South China Sea developments). Therefore, Liu has visited Europe (France, Poland, Germany) in order to a) raise attention to South China Sea developments (Taiwan is a non-issue in EU) and b) develop a deeper understanding for EU and Ukraine/Russia/US developments. The DPP is dealing with many uncertainties and currently developing a new perspective, e.g. Taiwan should stick to international law alongside with the US. Questioning whether no news are really good news, Liu called on the Taiwan government to play a more constructive role in the region, not only towards its own domestic policies, but also on an international scale on issues such as human trafficking and environmental concerns to avoid being continuously portrayed in the background.
Dr. Klement Gu, representative of the Taipei office in Berlin, pointed out that his KMT-government has to show some major successes in cross-strait relations, e.g. the island disputes (Paracel Islands) are not a flashpoint anymore. KMT wants Taiwan to play a low-key role in peacekeeping and focus stronger on humanitarian support (e.g. Sichuan earthquake). An assessment of the impact of the US pivot to Asia and relations China-US, China-Japan, etc. would yet be too early.