Taiwan’s silly folly in aiding trade war

As the China-US trade war flares up, the island of Taiwan has decided to buy more soybeans from the US. It is reported that Taiwan will buy between 3.2-3.9 million tons of soybeans valued at up to $1.56 billion from Iowa and Minnesota in 2018 and 2019.

The moves by Taiwan are both pitiful and ridiculous. It is clear that Taiwan authorities have thrown themselves at the US and have become the only party to pick a side between Beijing and Washington amid their intense trade frictions.

Taiwan authorities did not do so out of nobleness, but because it has no bargaining chip in its relations with the US. It can only “pay tribute” to the US to win Washington’s favor and secure US’ promises to protect Taiwan’s “security.”

This is the extra cost that Taiwan needs to pay for the worsening cross-Straits relations due to its leader Tsai Ing-wen. If cross-Straits ties were to retain a more normalized state during the Ma Ying-jeou era, Taiwan could seek some kind of “equality” in its relations with the US or even strike a balance between the US and the Chinese mainland. But now, the Democratic Progressive Party can only kneel down to Washington.

In 2017, the Chinese mainland bought 30 million tons of soybeans from the US. If US farmers lose this business because of the trade war, what’s the use of Taiwan buying a few million tons? Taiwan authorities are eager to show their “loyalty” to the US, but US farmers will find it both laughable and annoying.

The population of Taiwan equals that of Beijing, and Taiwan cannot consume that many US soybeans. That Taiwan buys US soybeans is like buying arms and sending US money. But even arms won’t guarantee Taiwan security, let alone soybeans.

Taiwan’s security can only be secured through political means not military means. If Taiwan makes itself a pawn of external forces to oppose the Chinese mainland, it will lose leverage to gain security for itself and set itself adrift amid China-US competition.

Taiwan should also be clear that its trade surplus mainly comes from the mainland and amounts to tens of billions of dollars annually. The mainland will not interfere with Taiwan developing normal trade ties with other countries, but Taiwan should not exploit these ties to target the mainland. If Taiwan helps external forces hit the mainland’s economy, it will become a target of control by the mainland.

Taiwan is too small to afford to play this game of politics and geopolitics. Taiwan should try to seek balance among major powers rather than catering to the US while confronting the mainland. This should remain the fundamental political philosophy of Taiwan before the reunification of the mainland and Taiwan. It is time for Taiwan to have true self-reflection.

Source: Global Times