China Times Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
November 25, 2015
Executive Summary: Xi Jinping has declared that both sides of the Strait are one family. This is highly beneficial to Taiwan's in cross-Strait affairs and even international affairs. Any current or future leader on Taiwan must think hard about how take maximum advantage of this premise to increase Taiwan's international trade and economic breathing room, and maximize Taiwan's welfare. If we persist in seeing the Mainland as “Not us” due to ideological bias, we will merely shut ourselves out of international economic integration.
Full Text Below:
The power struggle between Beijing and Washington has escalated. The battlefield has expanded. It has spread from the South China Sea sovereignty dispute, to the TPP vs. RCEP regional economic coopetition, and on to the USD vs. RMB currency war. War is no longer limited to traditional arms races or the geopolitical manipulation of regional conflicts. It has changed into non-traditional monetary and economic war. The Asian-Pacific region in particular has become the number one bone of contention in the struggle for political and economic dominance.
Last week the APEC summit adjourned. This week the East Asia Summit (ASEAN 10 + 8) convened. US President Barack Obama continued to harp on the South China Sea issue. He demanded that Beijing cease land reclamation in disputed waters within the South China Sea. Mainland President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang ignored him. They merely noted that South China Sea issues should be settled peacefully by the parties involved. Nations outside the region must not raise tensions by meddling.
The South China Sea sovereignty dispute has led countries such as the Philippines and Vietnam, with whom Mainland China has territorial disputes, to form alliances. Washington has used this as a pretext to meddle in Asian-Pacific affairs. This has been its chief diplomatic strategy. In early October, the US completed first round TPP negotiations.
The TPP originally consisted of only four nations: Singapore, New Zealand, Chile, and Brunei. It was a very small scale free trade agreement (P4). Its impact on global and regional economic and trade development was minimal. But in September 2008, the United States joined. Member States increased. First round negotiations increased membership to 12 countries, and accounted for nearly 40% of the global GDP. This significantly enhanced its influence. South Korea and Taiwan have actively sought to join second round negotiations.
By contrast, Mainland China has been indifferent to the TPP. The TPP rules of the game were not authored by Beijing, but by Washington. For Beijing, which is eager to gain in international status and to have a voice in international affairs, this is unacceptable. Therefore Beijing has insisted on using the RCEP to negotiate multilateral trade agreements, based on the ASEAN plus 6 model. This will eventually lead to the establishment of a Free Trade Area of the Asian-Pacific (FTAAP), and yield the greatest benefits for the Asian-Pacific region.
In fact, the non-traditional war between Beijing and Washington is not merely about consolidating economic and trade footholds in the Asia-Pacific region. Beijing has recently aggressively courted Washington's Western allies. It has invited European countries to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. It has injected large sums of money into the EU for major infrastructure projects. It has established RMB currency clearing arrangements with the UK, Germany, and France. All of these moves are luring away Washington's allies. They show that Beijing is nobody's fool.
We have yet to mention Ukraine. Beijing took advantage of the Ukraine crisis to construct Russia's first high-speed rail project, which connects Moscow with Kazan. This expedited the signing a long-delayed Sino-Russian natural gas agreement. More recently, Russia's largest oil company received a 15 billion USD loan from Beijing. The signs are everywhere. The war between Beijing and Washington has spread to the rest of the world. The main battlefield now includes international power politics, foreign trade, economics, and national currencies.
Non-traditional warfare rages between Beijing and Washington. But under the table cooperation continues. After all, the United States has a mature economy highly dependent upon consumption and services. Mainland China is transitioning from foreign demand to domestic demand, from manufacturing to services, from investment to consumption. Economically speaking, cooperation between the two at this stage far outweighs conflict.
On issues that do not involve national interests, such as Internet security, energy conservation, and intellectual property rights, the two governments cooperate more than they conflict.
Beijing and Washington are going head to head. Taipei must seek a middle ground between the two. In the South China Sea sovereignty dispute, for example, Taipei lacks a powerful military. Beijing and Washington are colliding with each other in the South China Sea. Taiping Island, the largest island chain in the South China Sea, is a reminder of Taipei's strategic value. The ROC government should attempt to win international support for the East China Sea Peace Initiative that it advanced in 2012. It should also attempt to implement the more recent South China Sea Peace Initiative. Doing so can elevate the ROC's international stature, and leave it with additional bargaining chips. This is true for the TPP and RCEP as well. Global economic integration continues to accelerate. Taipei cannot afford to take sides.
The opposition DPP and its presidential candidate insist that Taiwan's future depends upon the TPP, bilateral and multilateral negotiations, and FTAs that integrate us into the global trade system. But they pointedly refuse to include the RCEP, because they erroneously believe we can bypass the Mainland and still participate in global economic integration.
This is a very dangerous idea. The DPP ruled for eight years. During that time it proved that such an approach is utterly infeasible, especially now that the Mainland is more economically powerful than before. Other countries and economic organizations find it impossible to ignore Beijing's views. This is true even for its chief competitor Washington.
Xi Jinping has declared that both sides of the Strait are one family. This is highly beneficial to Taiwan's in cross-Strait affairs and even international affairs. Any current or future leader on Taiwan must think hard about how take maximum advantage of this premise to increase Taiwan's international trade and economic breathing room, and maximize Taiwan's welfare. If we persist in seeing the Mainland as “Not us” due to ideological bias, we will merely shut ourselves out of international economic integration.
從南海主權之爭，到TPP與RCEP的區域經濟競合， 再到美元與人民幣的貨幣大戰， 戰爭型態不再侷限於傳統軍備競賽與操控地緣政治引發的區域衝突， 而轉向至非傳統的貨幣及經濟大戰。 特別是亞太地區政治及經濟主導地位，漸成為兩強競逐的核心。
議），美國總統歐巴馬持續拋出南海議題， 要求中國停止在南海主權爭議海域填海造地及開墾建設， 大陸國家主席習近平及總理李克強對此都做了冷回應， 僅強調南海問題應由當事國直接談判協商和平解決， 域外國家不應採取導致地區局勢緊張的行動。
尋求與中國有領土爭議國家如菲律賓及越南的結盟， 藉此涉足亞太地區事務，是美國近年來的主要國際外交手段。10月 初，剛完成第一輪談判協議的TPP也是如此。
智利與汶萊所組成的一個小型自由貿易區（P4）， 對於全球經貿或區域經濟發展的影響可說是微乎其微。但自從200 8年9月美國宣布加入後，參與成員國不斷擴充， 簽署第一輪談判已多達12個國家，占全球經濟規模將近40%， 影響力大幅提升，南韓與台灣已積極表態希望加入第二輪談判。
中國制定，而是美國主導， 這對亟欲爭取國際地位及話語權的中國而言，是不能接受的事實。 因此在亞太經濟整合路徑上，中國一直堅持應從RCEP著手， 透過東協加6的模式完成區域內的多邊貿易談判， 最終推進到亞太自由貿易區（FTAAP）， 如此才能對亞太地區產生最大效益。
中國近來積極拉攏美國西方盟友的舉動， 如邀請歐洲國家加入亞投行、 大量挹注資金到歐盟地區協助重大工程建設、與英、德、 法建立人民幣貨幣清算安排等，都有向美國挖牆角的意味， 也宣示中國已非吳下阿蒙。
取得連接莫斯科及喀山的俄羅斯第一條高鐵工程， 爭吵多年的中俄天然氣供應協議也塵埃落定， 近日俄羅斯最大石油公司更從中國獲得一筆將近150億美元的石油 貸款。種種跡象都顯示，中美兩強之間的戰火已蔓延到全世界， 主戰場也擴散至國際政治、對外貿易、經濟及貨幣等各個層面。
畢竟從經濟發展階段來看， 美國已步入高度依賴消費及服務的經濟成熟期， 中國仍停留在外需轉內需、製造轉服務、投資轉消費的經濟轉型期。 在經濟層面上，雙方現階段的互補關係遠大於競爭關係。
以南海主權之爭為例，台灣背後雖然沒有強大的軍備實力， 但在中美競逐南海利益中，擁有南海最大島嶼太平島的優勢， 無疑地凸顯了台灣的戰略價值。政府若能延續2012年提出東海和 平倡議並成功取得國際支持，提出南海和平倡議路徑圖， 將南海議題由倡議付諸行動，將可凸顯台灣國際地位， 也有利加大台灣的籌碼。TPP與RCEP的抉擇未嘗不是如此， 在全球經濟加速整合的過程中，台灣並沒有選邊站的本錢。
P、雙邊及多邊FTA的談判與簽署，才能融入全球經貿體系， 絕口不提RCEP，也認為台灣可以無視並繞過中國大陸， 參與全球經濟整合。
已驗證這樣的做法是行不通的， 尤其是當大陸的經濟實力愈加龐大時， 其他國家或經濟組織更難忽視中國大陸的意見， 即使處於競爭地位的美國，也是一樣。
甚至是國際事務的推動，都有極為正面的意義。 無論是現在或未來可能的領導人， 實在應該好好思考如何善用這樣的理念，拓展台灣的國際經貿空間， 創造全民最大的福祉。一旦流於意識形態，拒中國大陸於門外， 其實也意味著自己將通往國際經濟整合的大門鎖上，自毀前程。