Global Diplomacy Series: The Outlook for US-Taiwan-China Relations

Article by Alison Ng

On January 15th, the Young Professionals in Foreign Policy (YPFP) held the next edition of their Global Diplomacy Series – The Outlook for US-Taiwan-China Relations at the Taipei Economic & Cultural Office (TECONY) in New York. The speaker of the night, Professor Vincent Wei-Cheng Wang, Associate Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Richmond, informed the audience about Taiwan and the lack of relations it has with other countries, specifically the US.

In a room full of attentive professionals, Ambassador of TECONY Paul Wen-Liang Chang, began with welcoming remarks. After, Professor Wang graced the stage with his vast knowledge and amiable humor. His PowerPoint, “Taiwan Matters: Global Powerhouse, Overlooked Partner” accompanied him and his lecture.

Professor Wang began with simple information and statistics. At first, he compared Taiwan’s size in relation to China, since most people automatically group the two countries. Then, Professor Wang presented Taiwan by itself, stepping away from its preconceived relations with China. He touched upon the country’s positives – Taiwan’s economy is larger than Saudi Arabia’s, and the negatives – it has the 26th highest green house gas emissions per capita.

The Professor then transitioned his key facts into discussing the basis of the event. “In 2006, the global policy and A.T. Kearney consulting firm published a so called globalization index,” he explained. “It ranks how globalized the 62 largest economies in the world, using four indicators: economic integration, personal contact, technological connectivity, and political engagement.”

“Where Taiwan was hurt the most is in terms of political engagement,” Professor Wang revealed. “Taiwan got 62 out of 62; dead last.”

Professor Wang then went into a brief explanation about Taiwan’s relations with the U.S. and China in the past, up to present day. Currently, Taiwan is not part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which Professor Wang argues is “is the economic pillar of the US pivot to Asia policy.”

Professor Wang noted that if Taiwan joins the TPP, it will become the 6th largest economic power among the members.

Right now, the U.S. has not made any movements to include Taiwan in the TPP. His last slide of the night noted three theories that “explained the (U.S.) silence on Taiwan.” The first, “The Lost Cause Thesis,” decides that the U.S. does not mention Taiwan because it believes the country is too dependent on China; the second, “The Fate Undetermined Thesis,” believes that the U.S. has not made up its mind about Taiwan; and the last, “The Tacit Alliance Thesis,” thinks the U.S. is actually including Taiwan, but is keeping quiet about it.

After explaining his theories, Professor Wang left the audience with their own thoughts and conclusions, ending his discussing with the question: “What possibility makes the most sense to you?”

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