It’s got a small, passably well-off population. It’s politically stable. And it doesn’t shape international relations. So Taiwan easily gets overlooked. Sometimes you look but don’t see much either, a chronic frustration with officials bent on more publicity. But the East Asian island with 23 million people, a crucial link in the global high-tech supply chain and one of the world’s edgiest relations with emerging superpower China is on my watch list at a tumultuous 2015.
The two governments will keep talking this year as if nothing happened last year, but Taiwan will lack mandates to sign new agreements. China hopes for a political concession from Taiwan before Ma steps down due to term limits in 2016, leaving the presidency open to the more anti-Beijing Democratic Progressive PGR -2.18% Party. Ma has said no way. “Beijing appears concerned with the possibility that, without having adopted a new policy toward mainland (China) based on ‘one China,’ the DPP could win the presidency in 2016,” says Alan Romberg, East Asia Program director with the Stimson Institute, a think tank in Washington.
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