The Really Complex Cross-Strait Issues Have Yet to Be Breached
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
December 22, 2008
The two-day KMT-CPC forum ended yesterday, and successfully arrived at nine joint proposals. The forum is purely a party to party dialogue mechanism. But both parties are ruling parties, and this is the first time officials from both sides sat at the same table and held a direct dialogue. The two sides touched upon an important issue, how they will interact during the next phase. Naturally the forum meant more than fora in the past. At the very least the two sides reached a consensus. The consensus is referred to as "recommendations." But the nine recommendations are likely to comprise the real world agenda for the next stage of cross-strait interactions.
Some of the interactions during the two-day forum are worth noting. For example, Taipei has long advocated a "Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement" (CECA). During the current KMT-CPC forum, the response from Beijing was highly encouraging. To prevent Taiwan from being marginalized, Ma made a CECA-related proposal during the March presidential election. He proposed an approach that combined a free trade agreement (FTA) and the Hong Kong and Macao "Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement" (CEPA) model. On the one hand, it would avoid state-to-state disputes. On the other hand, it would avoid implications that the ROC's sovereignty had been diminished. The main focus would be to abolish cross-Strait tariffs and other economic, trade, and investment-related obstacles, to establish a common market.
This concept may or may not gain currency. It requires amendments to the laws, changes in the system, and countless policy planning details. The KMT-CPC forum can only offer concepts and initiate a dialogue. Full implementation of such polices is a long way off. But the two sides have at least reached a consensus. Industry leaders, government officials, and members of academia should now begin developing specific policies.
The KMT-CPC forum offered another promising sign. For the first time officials from the two sides held a direct dialogue. A dozen or so mainland officials attended. Five cabinet officials from the Taiwan side took leave so they could attend. As before, the participants were classified as VIPs and invited experts, rather than as government officials. The main theme of the conference remained overall industry interaction and economic cooperation. The two sides did not touch upon substantive policy. Nevertheless, officials from both sides were no longer afraid of direct contacts. Will officials adopt more direct forms of contact in the future? We shall soon see.
Whether cross-Strait interactions are proceeding too slowly or too quickly remains controversial. Critics who feel progress is too quick invariably claim that cross-Strait interactions threaten our sovereignty, or fail to address opposition party objections. Critics who feel progress is too slow, on the other hand, stress that cross-Strait interaction has already been delayed for eight years. We are still playing catch up. Such disagreement over the pace of cross-Strait interaction will persist for some time, and cannot be ignored.
Over the past few years East Asia's economy has undergone rapid economic integration. Taiwan meanwhile, has remained mired in long-term political turmoil. It has wasted a lot of time, for no good reason, Zero-sum confrontation has persisted. The conflict during Chen Yunlin's visit to Taiwan was an example. The ruling and opposition parties must communicate more on cross-Strait issues. But no matter what, we will never return to the ideological struggles of the past. Such internal struggles contribute nothing. Both the ruling and opposition parties should have learned this from experience. The ruling party cannot ignore opposition party oversight. Nor can the opposition Democratic Progressive Party persist in endless obstructionism.
With the initiation of Three Links, we have begun an irreversible process. The KMT-CPC forum has ended successfully. Next year, Chiang and Chen will meet three more times. More complex issues will be addressed. Once economic, trade, tourism, shipping, and educational issues are addressed, more sensitive issues will also arise, one after another. It's not clear how next year's participation in the WHA will be resolved. On the eve of the KMT-CPC forum, at a press conference with Thailand's media, President Ma called for Beijing to remove its missiles. His intention was clear. Many complex cross-Strait issues have yet to reach the conference table.
在順利達成九項共同建議後，為期兩天的國共論壇已於日昨順利閉幕。儘管性質上這僅只是一個黨對黨的對話平台，但由於目前雙方都已是執政黨，再加上這次又是 首度有官員上桌直接對話，所觸及的又是兩岸下階段互動的重要議題，意義當然與以往不同。至少可以確知的是，雙方所達成的共識雖然僅被稱作為是「建議」，但 這九項建議，很可能就是下階段兩岸實質互動的重要課題。
為期兩天的討論中，有幾項議題的互動相當值得注意。例如往昔台灣所倡議的「綜合經濟合作協議」（簡稱ＣＥＣＡ）議題，就在這次國共論壇中獲得了對岸相當善 意的回應。按所謂ＣＥＣＡ的構想，原本是馬總統在今年三月大選間所提出，主要是為因應未來幾年東亞區域經濟邁向整合的大趨勢下，為避免台灣被邊緣化，所採 取的一種界於完全的自由貿易協定（ＦＴＡ）與港澳所採取的「更緊密經貿關係安排」（ＣＥＰＡ）之間的一種模式，它一方面規避國與國的爭議，另一方面也避免 「主權被矮化」的聯想，而其主要基本構想還是著眼於取消兩岸間包括關稅、經貿、投資等相關障礙，逐步構築一個自由化的共同市場。
可想而知，不論這個構想未來的進度會如何，其中所涉及的包括法令修改、制度調整、政策細節規畫等課題實在太多了，國共論壇所能做的亦不過只是就構想本身， 啟動初步的對話而已，未來要走到完全的落實，其實還有不算短的路要走。至少兩岸在這個課題上已經獲致初步的共識，接下來包括兩岸的產官學界等，都該務實的 就這其間所觸及實質問題，進行政策性的研擬了。
這次國共論壇還有另一項值得注意的徵候，即是首度出現有兩岸官員在論壇中直接對話的畫面。這其中大陸方面有十數位官員出席，台灣這邊也有五位內閣官員「請 假」與會，雙方依舊是以特邀嘉賓與專家的身分與會，對話的主軸，也僅只是圍繞在總體產業互動與經濟合作的大原則上高來高去，並未觸及實質政策上的對談。但 這已經意味兩岸官員直接互動的種種「顧忌」正在淡化中，未來雙方是否越來越不耐採取間接對話的形式，相當值得觀察。
沒錯，就當下兩岸互動的步調論，究竟是走得太快還是太慢一直存有爭議。認為步伐太快的論者，總認為兩岸互動的進程太過忽略主權議題，也太過忽略朝野溝通； 但認為步伐還太慢的論者，卻認為兩岸互動進程根本就是荒廢了八年，目前的互動進程僅只是在趕進度而已 ，這種急緩不一的爭辯，在可預見的將來還會持續一段時間，這也是處理未來兩岸議題所不能忽略的面向。
不能否認的是，過去幾年隨著東亞經濟的快速整合，同一時間內的台灣卻長期陷在政治紛擾中，平白蹉跎了不少歲月，這種零和的對立迄今還未見完全紓緩，陳雲林 訪台期間的衝突即是一例。這說明朝野在兩岸議題上確實需要更有建設性的溝通，但不論怎麼說，也絕不能再拉回到昔日那種瀰漫意識形態攻伐的年代了，畢竟那樣 除了繼續複製內耗衝突，根本不會產生任何正面的意義。這一點朝野政黨都該深自體會，執政黨終究不能完全不理會在野黨的監督，在野的民進黨也終究不能永遠只 停留在堅壁清野的抵制階段，不是嗎？
隨著大三通的啟動，誰都清楚兩岸已經邁向一個再也無法逆轉的進程，國共論壇的順利閉幕，乃至明年三次江陳會談的舉行，都將會有更多的更複雜的議題等著要端 上檯面，經貿、觀光、航運、教育…等課題次第解決了，更敏感的議題也陸續將登場了，明年參加ＷＨＡ問題要怎麼處理，目前跡象還不明顯，選在國共論壇揭幕的 前夕，馬總統投書泰國媒體呼籲北京撤除飛彈，用意當然非常明顯，兩岸間的複雜問題，還有許多尚未端上桌呢！