Taiwan’s mid-March elections show that residents there may be willing to have a closer relationship with China if it benefits them economically.
Taiwanese voters favored Hong Kong-born Ma Ying-jeou's promise of economic prosperity over his rivals' campaigns to ensure further confrontation with China. Ma Ying-jeou won the presidential election in a landslide victory with his message for closer economic ties with China. He proposed reviving the economy by inviting more Chinese investment and tourism for Taiwan.
This is a new tack for a country that has long struggled to become separate from China and find its own identity in the international arena.
Tibet could learn from Taiwan’s strategy. The BBC’s Humphrey Hawksley, writing in YaleGlobal, contends that Tibet’s embrace of a national identity prevents them from enjoying China’s economic benefits. With India and China as neighbors, Tibet is in a prime position to benefit from the global market. Hawksley suggests that if both countries focused on their economic relationship, Tibet could enjoy a Taiwan-like success story. But it might mean giving up some of its traditions and its fight for independence.
Taiwan’s decision highlights how the lure of closer of economic ties is affecting the way countries formulate their foreign policy. It seems as if Tibet could better its struggling economy by putting aside its hostility to China — but at what expense?