Jan 3, 2008

Pacific Watch: Taiwan Starts To Get Really Smart In South Pacific Diplomacy - New Zealand Next??

Taiwan has woken up to its ace card in dealings with the Pacific (including New Zealand). Taiwan is the ancestral homeland for all the Austronesian peoples. The DNA evidence is beyond dispute - except in some quarters in Beijing, and perhaps with New Zealand's Foreign Minister Winston Peters who constantly refers to being of Chinese ancestry (helpful when you helped build your political career on anti-Chinese sentiment). Taiwan's aboriginal tribes and all the people of the Pacific are genetically almost identical.

Now Taiwan's aboriginal peoples have not been treated all that well over the last few hundred years. The immigrant Chinese stole their best land and forced them to survive on only the most marginal of mountain lands or on remote, non-hospitable islands. Their anti-Chinese views came in handy when Japan become Taiwan's colonial ruler. The aboriginal people were happier with Japan in charge than any Chinese rulers, and the Japanese made good use of the warrior and sporting prowess of the aboriginal peoples in the Japanese armed forces. Many of the Japanese special forces used in the China war and WWII were Taiwanese aboriginals (for this reason Taiwanese are a bit conflicted on issues such as "the rape of Nanjing" etc.) When the KMT (the Chinese Nationalist Party) fled China and became the new occupiers of Taiwan there was indeed a bit of retribution. Aboriginals were discriminated against in all fields other than the baseball field where they excelled. Then along came DNA analysis and what an interesting story it told. Links between the Maori and Taiwan's aboriginals have been growing in the last 10 or so years. And links are being built between other peoples in the Pacific.

Taiwan has decided to play this card more prominently by appointing an aboriginal diplomat as Taiwan's new representative in Fiji.

This is a smart move. The Hive expects that Taiwan will be developing further this aspect of its diplomacy with New Zealand also. We understand that links with the Maori Party are proving particularly promising for Taiwan. Watch this space should Maori (as is looking increasingly likely) become part of the next New Zealand Government. No shift in recognition is possible, but expect some more balance in the relationship, and more interest from Wellington in Taiwan's security and economic well being.