Thursday, December 31, 2009

"Finlandization" and Taiwan

A specific article caught the attention of all major media in Taiwan yesterday. Bruce Gilley wrote an article--published in the Jan/Feb 2010 edition of Foreign Affairs--about Finlandization and its implication on the Taiwan Strait. The article immediately drew sharp criticisms and President Ma seemed to be responding to it indirectly today by saying "cross-Strait relations isn't moving towards Finlandization." To read the article, see "Not So Dire Straits." The following is a short excerpt:

To understand the evolution of the Taipei-Beijing relationship, it is useful to consider the theory and practice of what has become known as "Finlandization" in the field of political science. The term derives its name from Finland's 1948 agreement with the Soviet Union under which Helsinki agreed not to join alliances challenging Moscow or serve as a base for any country challenging Soviet interests. In return, the Kremlin agreed to uphold Finnish autonomy and respect Finland's democratic system. Therefore, from 1956 to 1981, under the leadership of President Urho Kekkonen, Finland pursued a policy of strategic appeasement and neutrality on U.S.-Soviet issues and limited domestic criticism of the Soviet Union. This policy enjoyed wide support in Finland at the time (despite the subsequent debate in Finland on its merits). Kekkonen also won praise across the political spectrum in the United States, especially from foreign policy realists such as George Kennan, who lauded the Finnish leader's "composure and firmness."

I haven't taken a thorough look at the article, but I would guess that the analysis is based on analogies. And most likely, it wouldn't be a PERFECT analogy. Therefore, we should be extremely cautious with the article's implications--although similarities may exist, the differences shouldn't be overlooked.

I'll get back with my thoughts when I'm done reading it.

1 comment:

Chih-Hsiang Liao said...

I agree with your comment, being cautious about article's implications because they may be misleading.