The World Has Changed: So Must Cross-Strait Policy
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
April 13, 2010
The keyword during the Cold War was "disarmament." Now, during the first decade of the twenty-first century, the keywords are "Will the RMB be revalued?" In fact, that is economic and trade equivalent of "disarmament." During the Cold War the keywords invoked by the two sides were "Recover the mainland!" and "Liberate Taiwan!" Now, during the first decade of the twenty-first century, the key word is "ECFA." We have gone from a zero sum game to win-win symbiosis.
The world, to a considerable extent, has put behind it ideological and military confrontation. It now engages primarily in economic "coopetition." During the Cold War the keywords were "arms race", "Iron Curtain", and "containment." Today's keywords are "FTA", "reform and liberalization" and "globalization." The North Atlantic Treaty Organization and Warsaw Pact military alliances have become obsolete. The new organizations are the EU, ASEAN plus N, and the North American Free Trade Area, all of which are economic and trade entities.
The world has changed. Ideological and military confrontation has morphed into economic coopetition. As the world has changed, so have cross-Strait relations. As mentioned before, we have gone from "Recover the mainland!" and "Liberate Taiwan!" to ECFA.
Globalization has led the world away from military and ideological confrontation, and steered it toward economic coopetition. Globalization has had one particularly significant development. It is enabling Mainland China to resolve its internal difficulties by the timely use of economic rather than political means. On the one hand, the Western world, led by United States, has learned to deal with Mainland China through trade coopetition rather than military confrontation. On the other hand, the Western world has lost any justification for the use of military means in their dealings with Mainland China. As the world's factory, Mainland China has already coordinated its interests with the interests of the world's leading manufacturers. As the world's marketplace, Mainland China has become the target of the world's businesses. Ideological and military conflict is no longer the way of the world. It is even less an excuse for the Western world to intervene in Mainland China's affairs. Mainland China is using economic interests to maintain internal harmony and external peace. It is using these means to ensure that foreign powers do not violate the peace and obstruct Mainland China's rise. Instead, foreign powers compete against each other on Mainland China, in the world's factory and the world's marketplace, attempting to offer the best products and services.
Mainland China has changed the way it responds to the world. It now deals with the world by means of trade. The way the world deals with Mainland China has changed too. It too deals with Mainland China by means of trade. Cross-Strait relations are also changing. Taipei and Beijing also deal with each other by means of trade. In recent years rapid fluctuations in cross-Strait relations have not been the result of ideological shifts. They have not been a result of Taiwan's liberal democracy. They have not been the result of differences in military might. If Beijing were to precipitate a military showdown with Taipei, the world would not necessarily watch idly. The reason the cross-Strait situation has changed so radically in recent years, is the result of Mainland China's national strategy. It now deals with the rest of the world using peaceful economic means. Its cross-Strait strategy has changed as well. It also deals with Taiwan using peaceful economic means. On the one hand, this presents Taiwan with a serious crisis. On the other hand, this presents the Mainland with an unprecedented opportunity.
Mainland China is no longer behind an "Iron Curtain." The world is no longer attempting to "contain" China. As a result, Taiwan has lost its role as an outpost in the East Asian anti-communist archipelago. The likelihood that the major powers will become engaged in a military confrontation with Mainland China is now very low. Therefore Taiwan is also obligated to use peaceful means in response to the rise of Mainland China. It must now use only economic and cultural means to deal with cross-Strait coopetition. Mainland China is the world's factory and the world's marketplace. Therefore the two sides of the Strait will inevitably interact with each by means of economic and trade exchanges. Even if Taiwan were to become an independent country, given preexisting geographical and cultural factors, it would still be unable to shun Mainland China and maintain Taiwan's economic viability. This of course, is why Taiwan independence is infeasible. Taiwan independence is unable to a way by which Taiwan's economy can survive. If one cannot survive economically, how can one survive politically? Now that Mainland China has changed its cross-Strait policy to peaceful economic interaction, Taiwan finds itself in crisis. It is now akin to the proverbial frog in a pot, at risk of being gradually boiled to death.
But this crisis is also an opportunity. First, Mainland China has adopted a "peaceful rise" policy towards the world. Therefore it must adopt a a "peaceful development" policy towards Taiwan. The two are related. If peace is the cross-Strait consensus, then all problems may be resolved. Secondly, Mainland China is affirming the legitimacy of its domestic rule internally by means of economic development. It is also maintaining international peace by economic exchanges. This is beneficial to the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations. Intertwined international economic interests make it unlikely Beijing will break the cross-Strait peace. Internally, Beijing must continue to provide its citizens with economic benefits. These benefits encourage increased freedom and democracy in Mainland society. This is also beneficial to the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations. Furthermore, because Beijing has made "peaceful development" and "economic exchanges" the basis of cross-Strait relations, it must respond to public opinion and democracy on Taiwan. If it defies public opinion and democracy on Taiwan, there will no longer be any peace. Mainland China consists of three concentric circles. The innermost circle is a harmonious society. The next circle is peaceful cross-Strait relations. The outermost circle is its peaceful rise on the world stage. If leaders in Taipei possess sufficient wisdom, they can transform cross-Straits relations into win-win symbiosis.
The question "Should the RMB be revalued?" reflects Mainland China's new role on the world stage. The whole world is engaged in coopetition with Mainland China. ECFA meanwhile, reflects the reality of the situation Taiwan faces relative to the Mainland. On the one hand it is an unavoidable crisis. On the other hand, it is an opportunity not to be missed.
2010.04.13 03:00 am