如果要在台灣的媒體報導、政治名嘴言論之中,畫出最頻繁使用來描述台灣外交發展所使用的詞彙,「突破」(breakthrough)這個詞絕對名列前茅。諸如他國現任或卸任政治人物訪台、與外國政府簽成的大小協議或備忘錄、在他國網站上出現了中華民國國旗等新聞,在台灣都被稱之為「外交突破」。

我在過去受訪時已多次表示,「突破」這個詞彙在國際政治場域不應該被如此濫用。國與國之間正常的交流往來互動本應屬外交人員努力的工作範疇,而非特定政客個人的政治功勳。對於台灣充滿挑戰的外交處境而言,政府的對外政策應該是要去政黨化、去政治化的,國與國之間產生的正常良好互動,不應該是特定一群人的搶功行動。

以國際政治權衡角度而言,近來在台灣被稱作「外交突破」的一些事件,實在應該摘下過去自我頒發的「外交突破」顯赫勳章。

首先來談台灣最重視的外交夥伴─美國。去年11月美國大選後,傳出坎貝爾(Kurt Campbell)可能基於他對於亞洲政策的了解而加入拜登政府,當時在台灣就出現了一些歡欣鼓舞的聲音:坎貝爾與一些蔡政府涉外官員關係良好,如某報新聞標題所寫「坎貝爾與蔡英文有『老交情』」,台美關係強化合作似乎指日可待。後來坎貝爾的確如傳言上任了美國白宮國安會印太事務協調官一要職,然而他卻在上周公開重申美國不支持台灣獨立。

同樣發生在最近幾天,白宮的新冠肺炎應變小組在推特上發了一則推文,列出了接收疫苗的國家,其中也出現了中華民國國旗。然而這條推文不久後即被刪除。緊接著美國國務院又發了一則推文聲稱:「美國將成為世界疫苗庫。將會接收到美國疫苗的國家包括了瓜地馬拉、烏拉圭、巴拉圭、玻利維亞、阿富汗和越南等國。」令人遺憾的是,這份名單上不但沒有台灣,還包括了幾個非民主國家。回顧前次台灣政府在收到美國與日本捐贈疫苗時所發出的官方聲明中特別強調:美國和日本向台灣捐贈疫苗是共享民主、自由等基本價值的體現。與美國國務院這則推文內容相形之下更顯諷刺。

此外,近日美國公告了在美國台協會台北辦事處新處長由孫曉雅(Sandra Oudkrik)女士擔任。台灣的外交部身為東道主,自然對此熱烈表示歡迎,並再度公告孫曉雅女士實為台灣的老朋友。但為何不見媒體以「外交突破」來描述這次的人事調動?即使孫曉雅女士的背景是一名資深的職業外交官,她的外交資歷無庸置疑,但她此次就職純粹是美國的外交人事調動,並非透由拜登總統的政治任命。若派駐當地使節是由拜登總統直接任命,便能展現拜登政府對於台灣的重視,可惜這次沒有發生。

或許台灣政府能派一位親拜登版本的口譯哥來突破台美關係,以盡釋台灣政府與川普政府的前嫌、親近新任拜登政府。

另一個重要的外交發展是即將離任的德國在台協會處長王子陶(Thomas Prinz)接受中央通訊社採訪中,重申了他之前在臉書上所寫的內容,即台灣從德國的BNT公司採購疫苗,是台灣與BNT之間的商業行為,簽訂內容取決於契約雙方。

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。

除了台美關係之外,最近與台灣相關的重要的國際事件,是海地總統摩依士(Jovenel Moise)被暗殺。摩依士曾於2018年以國事訪問台灣,當時台灣政府以隆重軍禮歡迎,並大大強調兩國共同的民主價值。但事實上,摩依士遠離民主價值的執政方式導致當地民眾群起抗議。而暗殺摩依士的嫌犯進入中華民國駐海地使館,隨後在內被捕,不但讓台灣在當地身陷尷尬形象,也顯露了台灣駐外使館嚴重的安全失誤。藉此呼籲外交部能夠嚴正審查其全球海外駐點與使館人員的環境安全。

與台灣仍保持建交關係的一些國家,包括史瓦帝尼、瓜地馬拉、宏都拉斯和尼加拉瓜等國家,進來陸續出現了當局逐漸偏離民主價值的情況。雖然這些國家的內政問題並非台灣的責任,但或許台灣當局應該要在此時好好檢視,該否向這些國家當局提供援助?並且該如何向之傳播民主信念與價值?

最近與台灣的外交相關議題還包括了印尼、菲律賓、泰國和越南駐台灣代表處都發出公開聲明,對於在台灣工作的該國國民缺乏疫苗可施打表示擔憂。同時間在亞洲地區即將舉行的多邊軍事演習,台灣未在其中。此外,台灣在香港和澳門兩地的駐地領事服務暫停,對貿易和旅客的影響與解決方案仍在懸滯中。

這一連串的外交挫折能讓台灣學習到什麼?最近我學到一句台灣俚語叫做「吃快弄破碗」,我想回送這句話給台灣的外交景象。在一個國家的對外發展中,有著起起落落是很正常的,台灣應該放慢腳步、避免追求看似絢爛的「外交突破」,或許真的能讓台灣在外交上能有突破。

(作者為前美國共和黨亞太區主席)

原文:

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.

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