王子陶並在訪問中指出，台灣在洽購BNT疫苗的過程中有中國廠商涉入因素，（註：由於中國上海復星醫藥擁有德國BNT疫苗的大中華區代理權），但他並未說明中國對於台灣購買BNT疫苗的過程是否施加阻撓。筆者發現之後在中央社的英文版報導刊出：「BioNTech encountered problems because of the China's involvement.」（由於「中國」的介入，BioNTech面臨了問題）其中把原本的「中國廠商」的廠商兩字省略，之後又將文中內容再更改回「中國廠商」。這樣的媒體報導方式對於台灣與德國之間的外交關係並無幫助。
Taiwan’s Non-Breakthrough Period of Diplomacy
By Ross Darrell Feingold
Former Asia Chairman Republicans Abroad
Those of us who observe Taiwan’s foreign policy and the pronouncements of certain politicians and pundits are accustomed to the use of the phrase “breakthrough” to describe developments in Taiwan’s foreign policy. Events described as a “breakthrough” might be the visit to Taiwan of foreign elected politicians or government officials an agreement or memorandum of understanding with a foreign national or local government or the appearance of the Republic of China flag on a foreign government or multilateral agency website.
I have frequently in my own media commentary decried the use of this phrase to describe such developments. Normal interaction with foreign countries should not be mis-labeled as breakthroughs. This denigrates the day-to-day efforts of Taiwan’s diplomats for whom such outcomes are part of their work and unnecessarily injects an attempt by politicians to take political credit for such developments. For a country with Taiwan’s diplomatic challenges good foreign policy outcomes should be nonpartisan and not politicized.
In recent days several developments in Taiwan’s foreign policy are unlikely to be labeled by the usual politicians and pundits as breakthroughs.
Taiwan’s most important diplomatic partner the United States took several actions that were not breakthroughs. Following the US election last November and when there was indications that Kurt Campbell would join the Biden Administration in some capacity related to Asia policy some in Taiwan rushed to remind the public that Campbell has a long and positive relationship with persons in Taiwan’s government including President Tsai Ing-wen. Yet this did not stop Campell who is the Biden Administration’s National Security Council Coordinator for the Indo-Pacific from reiterating at a public forum this past week that the United States does not support Taiwan’s independence. Also in recent days the White House COVID-19 Response Team deleted a tweet that listed vaccine donor recipient countries which originally included a Republic of China flag. This tweet was subsequently deleted and the State Department subsequently tweeted that the U.S. will be the arsenal of vaccines for the world with donor recipients such as Guatemala Uruguay Paraguay Bolivia Afghanistan and Vietnam listed. Not only was Taiwan omitted from this list but the list also includes countries that have weak or lack democracy which once again shows how inaccurate it is for Taiwan government officials to claim that US and Japan vaccine donations to Taiwan are related to democracies acting together.
Finally the United States announced a new Taipei Office director for the American Institute in Taiwan Sandra Oudkrik. Not surprisingly the Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomed the appointment and called Oudkrik a long time friend of Taiwan. Yet no one called the appointment a breakthrough. Why not? Perhaps because Oudkirk who is certainly qualified for the position is a career foreign service officer rather than a political appointee who has a personal relationship with President Biden. The failure to appoint a political appointee to this post is a significant lost opportunity for Taiwan as a political appointee would demonstrate to China how important Taiwan is to the Biden Administration.
Perhaps to ensure such negative developments do not re-occur Taiwan should send to its representative office in Washington DC a political division director who is as close to the Biden Administration as the recently departed Vincent Chao (口譯哥) was to the Trump Administration.
Another significant foreign policy development was the interview the outgoing Thomas Prinz director general of German Institute Taipei gave to Taiwan’s government run Central News Agency. In the interview Prinz reiterated what he earlier wrote on Facebook that Taiwan’s purchase of vaccines from BNT is a commercial matter between BNT and Taiwan. Prinz noted the reality that there is a Chinese manufacturer involved (as BNT gave Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical the distribution rights for Taiwan) but he did not state that China is blocking Taiwan’s purchase of BNT vaccines. The original English version of the Central News Agency was written as “Taiwan’s bid to procure vaccines from BioNTech encountered problems “because of the Chinese involvement.”” omitting the word manufacturer. This significantly changed the meaning of what Prinz said and the Central News Agency later corrected the English language report to read “Taiwan’s bid to procure vaccines from BioNTech encountered problems “because of the Chinese company’s involvement.””. The impact of this incident on Taiwan-Germany relations remains to be seen.
Also in recent days Jovenel Moïse Haiti’s president was assassinated. Moïse previously visited Taiwan in 2018 with all the trappings of a state visit and honors at which shared democratic values were emphasized. As it turns out Moïse’s lack of commitment to democratic values had led to public protests. The entry into the Republic of China embassy in Haiti of assassination suspects where they were subsequently arrested is both an embarrassment and serious security failure which will hopefully prompt the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to review security arrangements at its overseas posts worldwide. In recent weeks developments in other countries that maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan including Eswatini Guatemala Honduras and Nicaragua are indicative of these country’s lack of adherence to democratic values. Although Taiwan is not responsible for these country’s internal problems it is a reminder that Taiwan should be honest about why it provides aid to these countries and avoid claims about spreading democracy.
Other recent diplomatic developments include the letter issued by the representative offices in Taiwan of Indonesia the Philippines Thailand and Vietnam issued a public statement expressing their concern over the lack of vaccinations for their nationals who work in Taiwan. Recent and upcoming multilateral military exercises in Asia exclude Taiwan. Taiwan’s ability to provide consular and other services in Hong Kong and Macau is in flux with the effect on trade and individual travelers yet to be determined.
Ups and downs in the course of a country’s diplomacy are normal. For Taiwan to have some setbacks in a short period of time is not cause for alarm. In fact it simply makes Taiwan a normal country. A realization of this and an avoidance of irrational exuberance over short term positive diplomatic developments can be a breakthrough for Taiwan’s foreign policy.