What do foreign delegations mean for Taiwan? – The Diplomat

Following the visit to Taiwan by Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and rising tensions in the Taiwan Strait, the Cold War mentality is back in full force, making Taiwan a hotspot. potential flashpoint between the United States and China. The unfolding crisis between Washington and Beijing could rewrite the future of both powers as well as countries in the region in ways the world can barely imagine. In his latest book “Avoidable War: The Dangers of Catastrophic Conflict Between the United States and Xi Jinping’s China”, Kevin Rudd, former Australian Prime Minister, warned that “the 2020s loom as a decisive decade in the overall dynamics of the evolving balance of power” between Washington and Beijing.

But even for other Indo-Pacific countries, a large-scale conflagration would potentially lead to a distortion of the rules-based regional and international order, which countries in the region have worked together to build and sought to maintain. China’s recent threatening and menacing war games around Taiwan are blatant efforts to establish a “new normal” in the Taiwan Strait, a progressive strategy used to isolate island democracy. And these moves could trigger miscalculations and conflicts that would spiral out of control, which would have a ripple effect on the Indo-Pacific region.

More than ever, Taiwan needs international support and solidarity. Routine interactions between Taiwan and like-minded countries have become even more imperative at a time when China is acting more assertively. Legislative delegations emerged as a means by which like-minded countries could support Taiwan. These visits are significant because they help demonstrate that China cannot prevent foreign dignitaries from visiting Taiwan.

The presence of foreign parliamentarians in Taiwan is necessary because it could help to show the importance of Taiwan in the eyes of their country of origin. Legislators, especially those in Europe, play a constructive role during the legislative process, exercising legislative authority, overseeing budget processes and calling for changes to legislation if deemed necessary. They play an important role both in domestic affairs, such as human rights and socio-environmental issues, and in foreign affairs, such as foreign, trade and security policy issues.

Through their influence and reputation, legislators could defend Taiwan and support Taiwan’s participation in international institutions. Already, European lawmakers have stressed the importance of collaborating with Taiwan and have made Taiwan visible in European politics.

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Since January 2021, European Parliament Vice-President Nicola Beer and members of her delegation, who visited Taiwan in July this year, have worked actively to raise Taiwan-related issues in the European Parliament and contributed the adoption of 20 resolutions supporting Taiwan.

Beyond rhetorical support, these visits can incubate economic schemes and collaborative programs that later begin to crystallize into concrete actions. Following European Congress delegations to Taiwan, the European Parliament adopted resolutions supporting Taiwan’s participation in international organizations and called on European Union partners, such as Japan, New Zealand, Australia and India, to express their support for Taiwan against Beijing’s bullying. European companies have also followed suit in strengthening ties with Taiwan by collaborating with Taiwanese partners on joint projects, including green energy, offshore wind industry, digital innovation, biotechnology and electric vehicles.

Delegations to Taiwan have a diplomatic purpose and are largely ceremonial. Yet beneath the surface, these visits help strengthen unofficial ties and keep bilateral relations on track. Open lines of communication between Taiwan and countries that have no official relations with Taiwan help strengthen diplomatic relations, build mutual understanding, demonstrate explicit friendship, and deepen the possibility of exploring opportunities and collaboration channels.

Upon their return, lawmakers could adopt policies to address the interests, concerns and orientations that their countries and Taiwan have in common. For example, after their visit to Taiwan in April, U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham and Robert Menendez, who have long helped boost Taiwan-U.S. trade relations and introduced numerous pro-Taiwan bills, introduced the Taiwan Policy Act of 2022 in June. The bill was proposed to put in place concrete initiatives to strengthen Taiwan’s defense capabilities, support Taiwan’s democratic institutions, support Taiwan’s international participation, and establish new mechanisms to deter aggression from Beijing. against Taipei.

In recent years, Japanese parliamentary delegations have also paid visits to Taiwan to exchange bilateral views on regional security issues and show support for Taiwan against Chinese aggression. In fact, a delegation from Japan arrived in Taiwan shortly after Pelosi’s visit. These visits were in line with the growing maturity of relations between Tokyo and Taipei.

The prospect of even more visits to Taiwan is promising as lawmakers increasingly prioritize Taiwan’s security and seek to strengthen economic ties. Two separate German delegations and a European trade committee plan to visit Taiwan in October and December, respectively. Similarly, a delegation from the Canadian Congress is planning to visit Taiwan later this year to explore trade opportunities.

Taiwan today is a vibrant democracy that makes valuable contributions to aid the international community. The Tsai Ing-wen administration, for example, has offered assistance to several Indo-Pacific and European countries by providing medical masks and sharing Taiwan’s practical experience in fighting the COVID pandemic. -19 under the motto “Taiwan can help, and Taiwan helps! Despite its modest involvement in global institutions, Taiwan’s efforts to be a responsible international player should be recognized and supported.

For future visits to materialize, countries in the region must foster meaningful ties with Taiwan based on both moral and strategic considerations. Countries around the world now have a moral justification for supporting Taipei, as preventing Beijing from encroaching on Taiwan would be a major step towards safeguarding regional stability. As direct representatives of the people, parliamentarians are well placed to send the message that support for Taiwan must be prioritized amid growing authoritarian coercion. Parliamentarians coming to Taiwan should make it clear that supporting Taiwan is not only feasible but even essential for peace-loving nations.

Another essential aspect of these visits is to sensitize the international community, policy makers and ordinary citizens to the strategic importance of Taiwan as a front line in the battle against authoritarianism. One of the cornerstones of regional security is the balance of power that the United States and its allies have strengthened in the post-Cold War era. But this balance of power has been weakened by the rise of China’s economic and military power. To counterbalance China and support Taiwan at the same time, strengthening pragmatic cooperation with Taipei and making regular visits a normal part of interactions should be a precondition for strengthening the current status quo across the Taiwan Strait, thereby preventing China from succeed in reshaping the regional order and becoming a dominating regional hegemon.

But for such a delegation to be effective in bringing tangible benefits to Taiwan, it must have a full agenda instead of just serving as a token gesture. A visit to Taiwan should be the beginning, not the end, of substantial engagement by lawmakers.

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