In an interview with the Doha, Qatar,-based Al-Jazeera TV network on May 28, President Ma Ying-jeou condemned North Korea’s breach of peace and its use of violence in the Cheonan Incident. President Ma also urged the international community to take joint measures in order to maintain peace and stability in the region. Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have escalated since May 20, when Seoul accused Pyongyang of torpedoing one of its naval patrol ships in March and killing 46 crewmen.
On May 29, President Ma condemned North Korea and supported the joint efforts of the Republic of Korea, the United States, Japan and other countries in seeking to reduce tensions through the United Nations. And, Taiwan is concerned that the use of violence or any provocation will undermine regional peace.
At another occasion that day, President Ma said the Korean Peninsula and the Taiwan Strait were once considered the two dangerous flash points in the region. With significantly improved relations between Taiwan and China, few would consider this area as a tipping point now. However, the Korean Peninsula is still perilous, said President Ma.
As a precaution, Foreign Minister Timothy Chin-tien Yang is ready to evacuate the 30,000 overseas Taiwanese in South Korea if tensions explode between the Koreas. As a contingency measure, a C-130 Air Force transport plane is on standby just in case evacuation is needed said the Ministry of Defense. During the riots by the Red Shirts in Thailand, a C-130 plane was also ready for any evacuation missions.
In addressing what possible impact the crisis on the Korean Peninsula might have on Taiwan, Christina Liu, the new chair of the cabinet-level Council of Economic Planning and Development, told the Legislative Yuan that it would cause “more harm than good.” With very similar industries in common, if South Korea were to be embroiled in a war, international companies would likely turn to Taiwanese manufacturers to fulfill orders instead. As for the negative impact, Liu said, no matter which Asian country has a problem, international capital would withdraw from the region completely. The recent drops of both the stock markets and foreign exchange in Taiwan reflect this dual trend. Also, in today’s economic structure, it is much quicker to shut off capital flows and switch orders.
According to Chen Tian-yj, an economics professor at National Taiwan University, increased tensions on the Korean Peninsula would bring absolutely no benefits to Taiwan. In a world of globalization, we are all closely connected, he said. Instability in any region would impact international trade, especially since South Korea is a large economy and Taiwan is an important trading partner.
Chen is also skeptical about companies switching orders from Korea to Taiwan. He said once war breaks out between the two Koreas, international capital would flee to safer areas. Unless absolutely necessary, orders withdrawn from Korea would not come to Taiwan. Once a war breaks out, not matter who wins, no one will benefit, he said.
Liang Kuo-yuan, president of the Polaris Research Institute in Taipei, said with the global economy still not fully recovered, any uncertainty would simply “rub salt into the wounds.” With the continued debt crisis in Greece and the tensions on the Korean Peninsula, he expects the global stock markets to continue to reflect these tumultuous times.
- The Press Division of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in San Francisco represents the Government Information Office (GIO), Executive Yuan, Republic of China (Taiwan). GIO maintains nine Press Divisions in the United States, including the San Francisco office. The Press Divisions are in charge of promoting Taiwan's public relations and cultural exchanges. This blog is updated by the Press Division, TECO in San Francisco.
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