Bolster the Fundamentals of Cross-Strait Relations
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
August 29, 2014
Summary: Chang Hsien-yao's forced resignation has worsened cross-Strait
relations. Many cross-Strait negotiations have been severely impacted.
In fact, if one were to apply stock market terminology, cross-Strait
relations could be described as "lots of noise, but sound fundamentals."
The 9th MTA negotiations have been finalized. Talks will resume. They
will be held between September 10 and 12. That is the most powerful
evidence. As long as the two sides bolster the fundamentals of
cross-Strait relations, peaceful development will not be disrupted.
Full Text Below:
Chang Hsien-yao's forced resignation has worsened cross-Strait relations. Many cross-Strait negotiations have been severely impacted. In fact, if one were to apply stock market terminology, cross-Strait relations could be described as "lots of noise, but sound fundamentals." The 9th MTA negotiations have been finalized. Talks will resume. They will be held between September 10 and 12. That is the most powerful evidence. As long as the two sides bolster the fundamentals of cross-Strait relations, peaceful development will not be disrupted.
In recent years, cross-Strait relations have been been good overall. The relationship however, is subject to fluctuations. It is often interspersed with shocks, just like stock market movements. Every so often cross-Strait relations will be subjected to a barrage of noise that upsets the trend. Fortunately, cross-Strait relations have an excellent self-governing mechanism. Each eruption of bad news is invariably followed by a strong consolidation that absorbs the shock and gets it back on track. Despite Chang Hsien-yao's resignation, cross-Strait relations will probably proceed unabated.
The vitality of cross-Strait relations depends primarily on sound fundamentals. The chief support for these fundamentals is private sector cross-Strait mutual dependence. This includes complementary and mutually beneficial cross-Strait industrial cooperation. That is why the Chang Hsien-yao incident will not hamper either official negotiations or cross-Strait private sector exchanges and communication.
This is particularly evident in the increasing number of Mainland tourists coming to Taiwan. The number of Taiwan cities that Mainland tourists can travel about in freely has also been increased. Mainland residents enjoy visiting Taiwan. Taiwan businesses need Mainland tourists. This is mutual dependence. In addition, cross-Strait industrial cooperation has not ceased. The Chang Hsien-yao incident has become a media circus. But the cross-Strait information industry and technical standards fora continue unabated. In one fell swoop, agreements have been reached on 30 different cooperative R&D and industry standards, including 5G, ultra-high-definition television, cloud computing, Smart City, and other advanced category items.
Because these fundamentals remain strong, despite ups and down in cross-Strait relations over the years, the overall trend has remained onward and upward. When the Democratic Progressive Party was in power, cross-Strait political relations were poor. Nevertheless the two sides struggled to meet the needs of the private sector. This led to many new forms of exchange and cooperation. Direct charter flights were perhaps the most representative.
By comparison, the Chang Hsien-yao incident has merely led cross-Strait political relations into a fog. It has not seriously undermined them. Authorities on both sides must bolster the fundamentals of cross-Strait relations. They must ensure a willingness to continue private sector exchanges and cooperation. They must avoid political entanglements, and avoid artificially suppressing private sector activity. As long as the fundamentals remain sound, the bad news will pass, enabling cross-Strait relations to make a firm market recovery.
When private sector activities are freed from interference, official cross-Strait consultations can remain on schedule. The MTA negotiations scheduled for next month will affect Taiwan's economic development and integration into the international realm. The SEF and ARATS have decided to complete negotiations before the legislature reconvenes. This represents a high degree of tacit cooperation. It shows that cross-Strait officials remain unaffected by the Chang Hsien-yao incident. It also shows that follow-up negotiations on ECFA continued unabated. They have not been disrupted by the Sunflower Student Movement.
Taiwan's top priority is to complete MTA negotiations by the end of the year. The ECFA related dispute settlement mechanism should be approved simultaneously. Once these two agreements have been signed, the ECFA framework will be ready to go. It will become a powerful engine for promoting healthy cross-Strait economic and trade relations. It will be the greatest guarantor of peaceful cross-Strait relations.
But more homework is needed. Last year we signed the STA. The legislature is about to vote. The Cross-Strait Agreement Oversight Regulations Bill should help STA passage. But the legislative process remains hobbled. In this regard, the government must display courage. It must seek results that are workable and attainable in the short term, as soon as possible.
Cross-Strait negotiations are underway. They are not confined to ECFA related agreements. Others are less visible. One is the establishment of representative offices. Another is Mainland support enabling Taiwan to join international and regional economic organizations. Negotiation over these two topics and future ECFA related agreements should proceed hand in hand.
Among these, Taiwan's membership in international and regional economic organizations will further strengthen the fundamentals of cross-Strait relations. They will revitalize Taiwan's economy. They will influence cross-Strait economic and trade cooperation. This will extend to the global economic system. They will add value to cross-Strait economic and trade relations, and expand the two sides' area of common interest. We hope these consultations will lead to a breakthrough in the near future.
Noise is interfering with cross-Strait relations. But the fundamentals remain strong, We must clearly understand the impact of the Chang Hsien-yao incident. The two sides must co-manage the fundamentals of cross-Strait relations. Only then can we ensure continued peaceful development.