TAIPEI:Taiwan is currently “99 per cent dependent upon energy imports”, according to officials in Taipei but a new energy policy promulgated in 2016 by the president Tsai Ing Wen’s government aims to sharply reduce dependence upon imported energy – coal, oil and natural gas in particular by 2025. This is in line with the “green” energy policy being promoted by Ms Tsai, which also envisages phasing out nuclear power and maximising use of wind and solar power. But it also reflects a strong sense of the need to promote energy security in Taiwan where insecurity has long been a way of life. As Taiwan’s minister for mainland affairs Hsiao-Yueh Chang notes, most oil exported from the Middle-East to Japan and Korea passes between Taiwan and mainland China via the Taiwan Straits. This implies vulnerability to energy shocks for East Asia in general but in particular for Taiwan.
The island economy draws most of its oil imports from Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Iraq, the UAE and Iraq as well as Angola and others. And the economy is also dependent upon imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Qatar in particular and from Malaysia, Indonesia and half a dozen other sources.
Huge amounts of imported coal, meanwhile, reach Taiwan from two major supplies Australia and Indonesia as well as from Russia, Canada and South Africa among others and these imports, too, have to come via sea lanes that could be become vulnerable if Taiwan’s relation with the mainland were to become strained seriously.