TAIPEI (CNA) – An increasing number of countries are backing Taiwan’s efforts to participate in international organizations, as they are beginning to realize that China’s attempts to isolate Taiwan are self-serving and do not benefit the rest of the world, American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Chairman James Moriarty said yesterday.
In an exclusive interview with CNA, Moriarty said the U.S. is very concerned about the impact of China’s attempts to lure Taiwan’s diplomatic allies, as such actions could “destabilize cross-strait relations” by changing the status quo.
Washington is also worried about the promises of loans and investments China makes to those countries when it is trying to convince them to switch diplomatic recognition, he said.
“In many cases, it’s the prospect of debt diplomacy, the prospect of non-transparent deals,” Moriarty said. “And in many cases, it’s them just not meeting commitments that they’ve made. We will continue to make our views known to our friends and partners about how dangerous it is to flip relations to China at this point in time.” The U.S. is equally concerned about China’s attempts to make international organizations instruments of Chinese foreign policy, by blocking Taiwan’s participation, Moriarty said.
He cited the examples of the World Health Assembly (WHA), the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO); the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol); and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which have excluded Taiwan due to pressure from China.
Fortunately, Moriarty said, more countries are beginning to realize that China’s attempts to isolate Taiwan only serve Beijing’s “political interests” and do no good to the rest of the world.
“The fact is that every year, we get a larger number of countries writing the WHO, saying that Taiwan should participate as an observer in the WHA,” he said, “We’re seeing similar trends in the ICAO and Interpol.” Although the increasing support does not guarantee a dramatic rise in Taiwan’s participation in international organizations, it means China has to be more careful in its manipulation, Moriarty said, adding that he is optimistic the changes will soon become evident.
Taiwan has lost five diplomatic allies since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office in May 2016, the most recent being El Salvador in August 2018.
In 2017, China blocked the WHO’s invitation to Taiwan to attend the WHA as an observer, ending eight consecutive years of participation in the annual meeting, as Beijing took a hardline stance on cross-strait relations after Tsai of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) came to office.
Moriarty is part of a U.S. delegation, led by Ryan, that is in Taiwan to attend a series of events this week to mark the 40th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA).
The TRA was signed in April 1979 by then U.S. President Jimmy Carter, a few months after the U.S. switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing.
It was drafted to serve as a legal basis for unofficial relations between the U.S. and Taiwan and enshrine in law the U.S.’ commitment to helping Taiwan maintain its self-defense capability.
The AIT was launched in 1979 to serve as de the facto U.S. embassy in Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic ties.
By Joseph Yeh