Thursday, November 12, 2015

Cross-Strait Relations Following the Ma Xi Summit

Cross-Strait Relations Following the Ma Xi Summit
China Times Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
November 13, 2015

Executive Summary: The Ma Xi summit surprised the entire world. The summit may not have that much impact on the upcoming election. But leaders from the two sides have met and established a high-level framework. Top officials from both sides have initiated cross-Strait political dialogue. This is sure to have far-reaching implications for cross-Strait relations after the general election.

Full Text Below:

The Ma Xi summit surprised the entire world. The summit may not have that much impact on the upcoming election. But leaders from the two sides have met and established a high-level framework. Top officials from both sides have initiated cross-Strait political dialogue. This is sure to have far-reaching implications for cross-Strait relations after the general election.

Taiwan's chief expectations in cross-Strait relations are geopolitical security, political dignity, and economic benefits. The Ma Xi summit revealed a shift in Mainland cross-Strait policy, heretofore dominated by economic concessions. During the Ma Xi summit, the two sides met in a setting consistent with public calls for dignity and equality. The Mainland made concessions to "Taiwan consciousness". The usual, abnormal pattern of "heavy on economics but light on politics" changed.

In fact, the public on Taiwan wants to maintain close economic and trade cooperation and private sector interaction, under conditions of equality. This is why both Ma and Xi stressed "pragmatic cooperation, private sector exchanges". Xi Jinping said "The Mainland is willing to share its economic growth". Ma Ying-jeou said that what the public on Taiwan wants most from cross-Strait peace, is "to change the destiny of the people". Manifesting this consensus is the essence of the Ma Xi summit.

The first key to cross-Strait relations in the wake of the Ma Xi summit, is the survival of the Ma Xi summit agenda. The consultation mechanisms for the two sides' leaders should be firmed up. But if the green camp takes office, how will the two sides maintain the status quo? That is the bottom line in cross-Strait political relations. Xi Jinping said, "If the foundation is not secure, the earth will move and the mountains will shake". During the Ma Xi summit he said, "No matter which party takes office, no matter what their past positions, as long as they recognize the historical fact of the 1992 consensus, we are willing to deal with them". The Mainland may have a clear bottom line. But it is also willing to be flexible. If Tsai Ing-wen wins the election, she will be subject to intense pressure, both internally and externally. The slightest mistake, and all could be lost. The preservation and consolidation of high-level cross-Strait communication channels is crucial.

The second key is whether the Ma Xi summit can substantively boost Taiwan's economy. This point is crucial.  Can cross-Strait economic cooperation and the opportunity to share in the Mainland's economic prosperity touch the hearts of the public on Taiwan? That is the most important question of all. The two sides must resolve their political differences. Economic exchanges must be freed from political interference. Taiwan must implement systemic changes. The economic benefits conferred upon Taiwan must no longer be monopolized by Big Government and Big Business, rather than the general public.

Beijing has been making economic concessions to Taiwan for some time now. So why have the results been so disappointing? The reason is that not everyone on Taiwan has benefited equally from its concessions. This is not entirely Beijing's fault. One key is whether Taiwan is honestly cooperating with the Mainland. Tsai Ing-wen recently proposed a "New Southern Policy" that reorients Taiwan's political and economic strategy toward the Southeast Asian countries and away from the Mainland.

The original "Southern Policy" was first proposed in 1996. The Southeast Asian financial crisis led to its failure. Taiwan's economy then became dependent on the Mainland. This dependency cannot be changed. The New Southern Policy flagrantly ignores the region's objective economic status. Politically it is vague. Geopolitically it depends on distant resources. Economically, it is penny wise and pound foolish. As one can well imagine, this sort of strategic mindset will only worsen cross-Strait relations.

We must also consider another factor. Is Taiwan's own distribution of wealth mechanism the problem? For example, the main reason the STA has stalled is that it negatively impacts certain sectors of the industry, and has therefore provoked intense opposition. But with any trade liberalization, trade shocks are inevitable. The government must not erect barriers. Instead it must use public funding, industry subsidies, and tax policies to create a buffer period, reducing the impact on industry, and ensuring internal balance.

The Mainland has been making generous economic concessions. But the public on Taiwan remains indifferent. This, coupled with weak economic growth, psychological anxiety, and political unrest, spawned the Sunflower Student Movement. Wealthy conglomerates have monopolized the benefits from Mainland economic concessions. How can this be changed? How can the benefits be conferred upon ordinary members of the public? That is something Taiwan must do. Not long ago, the Mainland's “ten three five plan” emphasized the benefits of "three middles and one young". The Mainland understands this. Can Taiwan respond? That must wait until after the general election.

The third key is whether the Ma Xi summit can preserve the economic benefits of Ma Ying-jeou's cross-Strait peace. Here the key is public opinion. The nine in one KMT election debacle and the Sunflower Student Movement show that the new generation presents a challenge for the Kuomintang. Taiwan and Mainland authorities alike cannot ignore the young people's expectations for their own lives. Many in Taiwan find it difficult to identify with the Mainland. To a large extent this is the result of a lack of understanding. Exchanges among young people will become an important part of cross-Strait exchanges.

The general election on Taiwan is likely to result in changes. Cross-Strait relations may feel a chill. But economically, the two sides are inseparable. Can either side sever this link, merely because of a change in ruling parties? The Mainland can. Taiwan cannot. If political relations chill, non-governmental exchanges will be even more important. Cooperation among business people, meetings between representatives from commercial enterprises, forums, and other private channels will have to fill the vacuum.

For Taiwan, cross-Strait relations cannot be ignored, never mind severed, no matter which political party is in power. The public on both sides must become directly involved in decision-making. The economic benefits of cross-Strait peace must be felt and appreciated by the general public. Only that can ensure a normal, stable, sustainable, win-win cross-Strait relationship. This is the most important matter for authorities on both sides of the Strait, especially the new president and ruling party on Taiwan.

2015年11月13日 04:10 主筆室


台灣在兩岸關係中的最大訴求是地緣安全、政治尊嚴、經濟利益。馬習會成行,顯示大陸一直以來以「經濟讓利」為主導的兩岸關係思維有所轉變,馬習兩位「先 生」會面,符合台灣民眾對兩岸對等和政治尊嚴的期待,也代表大陸對「台灣意識」一定程度的尊重,對兩岸交流合作重經濟輕政治所形成的不正常格局,應有修正 作用。

在對等情形下,台灣民眾其實樂見兩岸經貿合作與民間互動維持熱度,這就是為什麼馬習都指出,兩岸要「務實合作、民間往來」,習近平表示「願與台灣分享大陸 發展的機遇」,馬英九強調「為生民立命」,這才是台灣民眾對兩岸和平發展最有感、最迫切的部分。落實馬習會的共識,重中之重就在於此。

後馬習會時代兩岸關係第一個重點,在馬習會頂層設計的延續。兩岸領導人會晤及事務主管部門協商機制應得到鞏固。但如果綠營上台,兩岸要如何維持現狀?也就 是兩岸政治底線怎樣磨合?習近平說:「根基不牢,地動山搖」,馬習會上他又說:「無論哪個黨派團體、無論其過去主張過什麼,只要承認九二共識的歷史事實, 我們都願意與其交往」,可見大陸底線明確,但也容許彈性。既然陸方表達了彈性的可能,倘蔡英文勝選,對內對外都將受到沉重的壓力和考驗,稍一不慎可能滿盤 皆輸。在這種情形下,兩岸高層交流機制的延續和鞏固十分關鍵。

重點之二,馬習會能否實質性帶動台灣經濟,這是至關重要的一點,未來兩岸經貿合作怎樣讓「分享大陸發展機遇」為台灣民眾所感,這比任何時候都重要。不但兩 岸要妥善管控和化解政治分歧,使經濟往來不受政治干擾,還特別需要台灣自身實現機制轉變,不再讓大陸的經濟分享被政商巨頭壟斷,難以惠及大眾。


「南向政策」在1996年就提出過,東南亞發生金融危機因而失敗,此後台灣經濟在相當長的時間內倚靠大陸,這種倚靠今後也無法改變。新南向政策明顯無視亞 太區域經濟的客觀現況,政治上含含糊糊,地緣上捨近求遠,自身經濟發展判斷捨本逐末,可以想見,基於這種戰略思維的兩岸關係會有多糟糕。

還需要反思的是,台灣自身的利益分配機制是否存在問題?比如《兩岸服貿協議》擱淺的主要原因是,部分行業認為服貿會對本行業帶來衝擊,因而反對。但任何貿 易自由化,行業衝擊都是必然的,政府要做的不是設置壁壘,而應以公共基金、行業補貼、財政稅收等方式,或設置緩衝期,削減對行業所造成的衝擊,實現內部平 衡。

大陸經濟讓利,但台灣民眾無感,加之經濟缺乏成長動能,民情焦慮,一定程度催生了太陽花政治風潮。如何突破讓利受惠侷限財團與特權,讓利益向下輸送,台灣 必須調整機制。不久前大陸十三五規畫對台表述特別強調要惠及「三中一青」,大陸對此已有認識,台灣能否回應大陸的調整,還要待大選後靜觀。

重點之三,馬習會能否真正鞏固馬英九時代兩岸和平發展的成果,根本要素是民意。國民黨九合一大選慘敗、太陽花學運都顯示新生代的台灣意識對國民黨的挑戰, 無論對台灣還是大陸當局來說,都不能輕忽台灣青年人對自己生活方式的堅持和願景。同時,不少台灣民眾對大陸難以產生認同感,很大程度源於欠缺了解,民眾特 別是青年的交流,相信會成為未來兩岸往來的重要部分。


兩岸關係對台灣而言,無論哪一個政黨執政,都不容視而不見,更不可能切割。如何讓民意直接參與兩岸決策程序、如何讓兩岸和平發展透過經濟實惠和民情撫慰來 獲得民眾認同,使兩岸維持正常、穩定、可持續的共贏格局。這是兩岸當局,尤其台灣未來新任總統與執政黨的重中之重。(旺報)

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