Morality and diplomacy guide Tuvalu’s ties with Taiwan
In his article about crossStraits relations, Amit Agnihotri makes the point that only around 13 countries in the world recognise Taiwan diplomatically (David & Goliath, Amit Agnihotri October 2022). China is applying pressure on nations which remain loyal to Taiwan to switch allegiance to the PRC. It is interesting to note that the small island state of Tuvalu remains loyal to Taiwan for now. When the Tuvaluan Prime Minister Kausea Natano visited Taipei in September he said his country would ‘stand firm to remain a lasting and loyal ally’. One explanation for Tuvalu’s longstanding relationship with Taiwan is its Christianityrelated traditional opposition to the Chinese Communist Party. Tuvalu is generally seen as being quiteconservative in international politics. Its citizens feel a strong sense of duty towards family and community, as well as respect for moral and democratic behaviour. Perhaps this explains their affinity towards their friends in Taiwan.
China will benefit if it delivers on its climate promises
A year ago, ahead of the Cop 26 Climate Change meeting in Glasgow, Asian Affairs highlighted the news that most Asian economies are trying touse less coal, with China announcing it will stop funding coalfired powerstations abroad (A cleaner future, Duncan Bartlett, October 2021).China’s energy sector is responsible for almost 90% of its greenhouse gas emissions. Its energy policy is therefore central to its transition to carbonneutrality. China has already made notable progress in expanding its renewable energy capacity, but coal still accounts for almost 55% of its total energy mix and 70% of its total carbon emissions. Moving away from coal is the most important priority for China’s decarbonisation, and China has indeed pledged to significantly reduce its coal consumption by 2030.
At the Party Congress in October 2022, President Xi Jinping indicated that China would continue to decarbonise but he also said it should prioritiseenergy security. He reminded Party officials that economic growth wouldremain the top priority as it is an essential requirement for achieving “common prosperity”. According to Xi, China will take a prudent and wellplanned approach to achieving its energy transition.The announcements at the Party Congress suggest that, contrary to itspast pledges, China will increase its coal and fossil fuel production and consumption in the coming years, whenever it is required to support its growth,and until it is ready to fully transition to cleaner fuels. In the current energycontext, and given China’s slowing economy, this is perfectly understandable.But China should carefully weigh the implications of this approach.China will benefit if it acts more quickly in making the transition to greenenergy. It should also support global efforts to develop new technologies,through engagement with countries which it regards as strategic rivals, suchas the United States. When it comes to climate issues, abattle over technology will not benefit anybody.
Don’t silence the new king
In Asian Affairs’ October editorial, much was made of the potentialfor King Charles to be head of theCommonwealth (Soul of the Commonwealth, October 2022). Thewriter said Charles III will need totread carefully around sensitive issues, particularly colonial history.While I agree that the monarchshould not try to rewrite history, itwould be a shame if Charles becomes a silent king. As Prince ofWales, he was notably outspoken inhis views on GM crops, architectureand the environment, and in this regard, quite ahead of his time. For hispains, he was sometimes accused byhis critics of “meddling” in government policy.As king, he must accept that heis constitutionally obliged to stay outof the political fray. But perhaps inhis private conversations with the heads of government he will frequently meet, he will be able to raiseissues that are important to him. Ihope he will continue championingsome of the causes he’s been passionate about for many decades.