U.S. should help Taiwan in diplomatic struggle with China: scholar

Washington-As China seeks to limit Taiwan's international space, the United States should help Taipei- keep its diplomatic allies and not leave it at the mercy of Beijing, U.S. think tank expert Walter Lohman said.

Asked by CNA about China's recent efforts to limit Taiwan's freedom of movement on the international stage since President Tsai Ing-wen (???) took office last May, Walter Lohman -- director of the Asian Studies Center at the Washington-based Heritage Foundation -- noted that "the problem for Beijing is that it has already played so many cards in reaction to her election."

Examples include cutting contacts with Taiwan and preventing its access to international organizations, such as the International Civil Aviation Organization, he said via e-mail.

He also predicted that it would be very difficult for Taiwan to attend the World Health Assembly later this year, with or without the December phone call between Tsai and U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and the two U.S. stopovers during Tsai's current state visit to four diplomatic allies in Central America.

The congratulatory call between Tsai and Trump, which was the first interaction of its kind since the U.S. switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei- to Beijing in 1979, angered China.

In addition to blocking Taiwan from international organizations and meetings, there is not much more Beijing can do diplomatically "except go after Taiwan's allies," Lohman said.

"But the U.S. and others can help Taiwan keep them," he added. "We shouldn't leave Taiwan at the mercy of Beijing."

He also called on Taiwan to keep the door open to talking with China.

"This gives Taiwan's friends the best context for helping it," he said, adding that "it is a long-term process."

Meanwhile, Lohman confirmed that he met with President Tsai when she was in Houston last weekend, saying it was an honor to welcome her to America.

Tsai and her entourage transited in Houston on the way to Honduras, the first leg of her nine-day visit to four Central American countries, including Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador.

She is scheduled to return to Taiwan on Jan. 15 via San Francisco.

Tsai's visit to Central America is aimed at consolidating ties with Taiwan's diplomatic allies in that region after the small West African island nation of Sao Tome and Principe severed diplomatic relations with Taipei- on Dec. 20, 2016 and later resumed official ties with China.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel