Looking south: Taiwan’s diplomacy and rivalry with China in the Pacific Islands region

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[inset side="right" title="Fabrizio Bozzato"] is a doctoral candidate in International Affairs and Strategic Studies at Tamkang University. He is researching Taiwan’s diplomacy in the South Pacific.[/inset]Six of the twenty-three countries that currently bestow diplomatic allegiance on the ROC are in the South Pacific. Therefore, the Oceanic region is of prime geopolitical importance to Taipei. The chief motivation behind Taiwan’s activities in the Pacific Islands is the defense of its ‘diplomatic space’ by countering China’s efforts to extirpate Taipei’s diplomatic presence. In addition, Taiwan uses its aid policy as a means to raise its international profile through promoting itself as a humanitarian power and aims to further its access to the natural resources of the area. Over the last decade, China’s growing economic power vis-à-vis Taiwan, and Beijing’s sturdy response to the ‘Taiwanised’ diplomatic policies of Taipei’s past presidency, have intensified the Sino-Formosan diplomatic conflict in the South Pacific. As a result, today the dynamic of the Cross-Strait rivalry - together with Taiwan’s until-recently runcinate relationship with the regional dominant power, Australia - deeply informs and shapes the relations between Taipei and the Pacific Island countries. At the same time, it appears that the island states have developed a greater understanding of the two dragons’ diplomatic competition, thus becoming more skilled aid extractors. The current Taiwanese administration has latterly educed a ‘diplomatic truce’ with the mainland and started meeting Canberra’s demands by reforming its aid policy and delivery. The diplomatic armistice with China allows Taiwan to improve its relations with Australia and foster its image as a responsible regional stakeholder. However, being fundamentally a Chinese concession predicated on concessions from Taipei, the truce is still precarious and reversible.

Part 1

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Part 2:

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Fabrizio Bozzato gave a speech on this topic during the conference "Mapping and Unmapping the Pacific" held in Taipei (Feb. 2011). The complete paper of the speech is available here.


Last modified on Wednesday, 08 January 2014 17:35
Fabrizio Bozzato (杜允士)

Fabrizio Bozzato, born in 1973 in the Veneto Region (Italy), is a political analyst with a double expertise in Pacific Studies and China-Holy See relations. He holds an M.A. in International Relations (University of Tasmania, Australia) and a Master in Political Science (Milan State University, Italy). He also attained a Grad. Dip. in International Politics with high distinction (University of Tasmania, Australia). He has worked with the Centre for International and Regional Affairs at the University of Fiji (Fiji Islands) and is currently living in Taiwan, where he is an Associate Researcher at the Institute. Fabrizio is presently pursuing a PhD in International Affairs and Strategic Studies at Tamkang University. He believes that "the currents of the global ocean are shifting from the Atlantic to the Pacific Rim, and especially Asia." [Langi Kavaliku].

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