Second Ice-Breaking Journey:
Response to International Trade Demands
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
March 1, 2013
Summary: We are pleased that the Lien-Xi Summit will build on the previously established foundation for cross-strait relations, as well as offer new hope. Lien Chan's first ice-breaking trip opened new horizons for cross-Strait relations. We hope his second ice-breaking journey will increase the international influence of Chinese from both sides of the Strait. The clouds have parted. The moon is visible. Cross-strait relations are a little clearer, and people enjoy a little more peace of mind.
Full Text below:
Honorary KMT Chairman Lien Chan led a diverse delegation to the Chinese mainland and met with top leaders. The trip is now officially over. This major cross-Strait event took place on the eve of a forthcoming Mainland power transfer. Xi Jinping will soon take over as general secretary. Everyone has high expectations for reform. Reform of the bureaucratic ethos, as well as institutional reform of the State Council, are already on the agenda. The political agenda is full. The Mainland continues to seize the initiative by extending invitations to visit. This clearly illustrates the new generation of leaders' concern for cross-Strait relations. It also provides powerful support for peaceful development across the Taiwan Strait.
Recall the outcome of the first, pioneering Lien-Hu Summit seven years ago. We think the Lien-Xi Summit will be hailed as the "Second Ice-Breaking Journey."
Since President Ma took office, cross-strait relations have indeed made unprecedented progress. The two sides have engaged in high-level strategic dialogue. This is undoubtedly the foundation for their new mode of communication. For example, the 2005 Lien-Hu Summit offered five hopes for the future. These established a new cross-Strait political atmosphere for President Ma when he took office. It laid a foundation for the structural framework above. To be fair, the past few years have witnessed tremendous changes in the international and cross-strait environment. These have rendered the old cross-strait exchange mechanisms inadequate. The current Lien-Xi Summit affirms the personnel and their policies in the wake of the two sides' power transfers. How to improve cross-strait relations at the strategic level, is undoubtedly the most pressing issue.
We we hail the Lien-Xi Summit as a second icebreaking journey. Only five years have passed, but already we face another structural imbalance in cross-strait relations. A prudent strategic response must be found.
Think back to 2005, to the first Lien-Hu Summit. Storm clouds shrouded the Taiwan Strait. Politicians on Taiwan failed to reconcile themselves to an increasingly powerful Chinese mainland. As a result, Taiwan was gradually marginalized in the international arena. It was no longer first among the Four Asian Tigers. The first Lien-Hu Summit cut the cross-Strait Gordian Knot. It enabled Taiwan to take the first step toward the reestablishment of cross-strait and international relations.
Since 2008 the international political and economic landscape has undergone unprecedented upheavals. These have led to shakeups in the international power structure and ever more intense international power struggles. The emergence of the G2 has changed the unipolar power system. It has contributed to the United States' official launching of trade negotiations with the Asian-Pacific region, as well as with the EU. The plight of the PIIGS has threatened the EU with disintegration. In our own neighborhood, the Asian-Pacific and Indo-Pacific nations are on the rise. Mainland China has replaced Japan as the world's second-largest economy. It has surpassed the United States as the world's largest trading nation. Japan and South Korea have announced the launch of free trade agreement negotiations. On the other hand, disputes over sovereignty in the East China Sea and South China Sea are rapidly heating up. The result has been nationalist antagonisms. In Washington, Japanese Prime Minister Abe accused the Chinese mainland of territorial aggression. This amounted to a resurgence of Japanese militarism. Mainland Chinese and Japanese planes and ships in the Diaoyutai Island waters are on the brink of military engagment.
Fortunately, amidst this rapidly changing landscape, cross-Strait relations have evolved. The simple exchange requirements of the past have gradually expanded. They now include the financial industry, ECFA, investment protection, and the protection of intellectual property. A comprehensive economic partnership has taken shape. We are a key member of the East Asian international community. Yet our role in the face of advancing regional economic integration and sovereignty disputes remains limited. President Ma's "East China Sea Peace Initiative" may seem like common sense. But it has attracted little interest within the international community. The short film released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs appears to be directed at the home audience. The same is true of its "rebalancing" policy. Taiwan finds itself in an awkward situation. Aside from announcing an unrealistic hope of joining the RIMPAC Economic Partnership Agreement in eight years, it has little to say.
As a major economy in the Asian-Pacific region, Taiwan must find a way to integrate itself into ASEAN and the Mainland China-led regional economic integration, as soon as possible. The Economic Cooperation Agreement negotiations with Singapore and New Zealand are proceeding smoothly. But progress remains slow, and have failed to keep pace with overall regional economic liberalization. As a party to major disputes in the East China Sea and the South China Sea, Taiwan must make itself heard during dispute settlement talks.
During the Lien-Xi Summit, the two sides reaffirmed the political basis for cross-Strait relations. They suggested that private sector think tanks begin discussing a peace agreement, and engaging in political dialogue over military confidence building measures. This is consistent with strategic goals. We think high-level political dialogue between the two sides should address international and regional tensions and cooperation. We must seek an entry point. Lien Chan spoke of a balanced, equal, and effective political framework, applicable to international trade.
We are pleased that the Lien-Xi Summit will build on the previously established foundation for cross-strait relations, as well as offer new hope. Lien Chan's first ice-breaking trip opened new horizons for cross-Strait relations. We hope his second ice-breaking journey will increase the international influence of Chinese from both sides of the Strait. The clouds have parted. The moon is visible. Cross-strait relations are a little clearer, and people enjoy a little more peace of mind.