Sunday 14 Aug 2022 | 17:37 | SYDNEY
Sunday 14 Aug 2022 | 17:37 | SYDNEY

Rudd weighs in on the Taiwan poll


Sam Roggeveen


13 January 2012 16:13

Kevin Rudd in an interview with CNN (my emphasis):

JOURNALIST: A man familiar to most of our viewers — Kevin Rudd, the former Australian Prime Minister and current Foreign Minister, joins us from New York. Great to have you with us, because you have such a background in Taiwanese politics, studies. What do you think it should take in the region? What’s at stake in this election on Saturday?

MR RUDD: You know with every Taiwanese election, we always take a deep breath and hope for the best because this is one of the red line issues for Beijing, that is, the future status of Taiwan. We all know mainland China’s policy, which is that Taiwan’s part of China and they want to see it back as a formal part of the motherland. And as your report has just indicated on Taiwan itself, you still have a significant move for a local identity, and ultimately some form of local independence.

So, the key thing with this election is obviously if the Democratic Progress Party wins, there’ll be an audible sucking in of breath in Beijing, and if Ma Ying-jeou from the Kuomintang, the KMT, win, then it will be business as usual. So, I think we’re in for a few rocky days as the Taiwanese people go to vote.

Coming from anybody else, this would be a reasonably conventional analysis of cross-Strait political dynamics. But on the eve of the election, is it really proper for the foreign minister of Australia to be so explicit about the possible consequences of the election? He's effectively telling Taiwanese voters that a vote for the Democratic Progress Party could bring on a more fractious relationship with China. Again, he's probably right about this, but should someone in his position be saying it?