China Times Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
January 12, 2016
Executive Summary: 2016 will be a troublesome year for Beijing. The political situation will become increasingly volatile the world over, from the Middle East, Central Europe, and Central Asia, all the way over to North Korea. Economic growth will be significantly weaker. Pressure to transform is already intense. The USD is stronger, and the RMB weaker. Global stock markets are crashing. Taiwan may well undergo yet another change in ruling parties. Cross-Strait relations may well be destabilized.
Full Text Below:
2016 will be a troublesome year for Beijing. The political situation will become increasingly volatile the world over, from the Middle East, Central Europe, and Central Asia, all the way over to North Korea. Economic growth will be significantly weaker. Pressure to transform is already intense. The USD is stronger, and the RMB weaker. Global stock markets are crashing. Taiwan may well undergo yet another change in ruling parties. Cross-Strait relations may well be destabilized.
To achieve the 21st century Chinese Dream, Beijing must continue reforms, deal with external pressure, work with other governments to ensure regional stability, expand economic and trade cooperation, and generate new economic growth. Stable cross-Strait relations are essential to regional security and economic cooperation. Beijing cannot afford turbulent cross-Strait relations. It must deal with political differences and limit conflict.
Let us sum up the past year. The situation in the Taiwan Strait will surely change the political landscape on Taiwan. But despite difficulties, the Ma government continues to promote cross-Strait cooperation and broaden official exchanges. Election season may be a sensitive time. Nevertheless leaders from the two sides held an historic meeting in third locale. They established a hotline between the heads of cross-Strait organizations. They designated three cities as Mainland tourists transit points. Beginning in 2016, Mainland undergraduate student quotas will be increased. Despite difficulties, MTA negotiations continue unabated. Cross-Strait relations have been stable for nearly eight years. The peace dividend has benefited not only people on the two sides, but the entire Asian-Pacific region.
Alas, the Democratic Progressive Party may return to power. It may clash with Beijing over the 1992 Consensus. This could destablize cross-Strait relations. Beijing has already issued several warnings. It declared that without the 1992 Consensus as political basis for cross-Strait relations, “the earth will move and the mountains will shake". The DPP does not believe military conflict will erupt. But it also believes Beijing may suspend consultations between the two cross-Strait organizations, the official hotline, Mainland traveler transits. It may terminate Mainland tourism to Taiwan, cancel past concessions, cancel orders from Taiwan's high-tech industries, even precipitate an avalanche of severed diplomatic relations to achieve Beijing's “earth will move , mountains will shake” effect.
Mainland tourism brings Taiwan nearly 300 billion in annual income, nearly 2% of GDP. If cross-Strait economic and trade exchanges are undermined, nearly one million people on Taiwan could become unemployed. Taiwan is striving for economic recovery. If the Democratic Progressive Party returns to power, pressures will be felt immediately after the election. It must be prepared for this latest challenge in cross-Strait relations.
From Beijing's perspective, a reversion to cross-Strait conflict and confrontation is antithetical to winning hearts and minds on Taiwan. It is antithetical to Beijing's goal of a prosperous society by 2020. The new "Ten Three Five" economic plan also requires cross-Strait economic and trade cooperation. Beijing's “One Belt, One Road” strategy requires stable regional relations even more.
The new year has begun. The USD and RMB currency war rages on. Risk management in the Washington-Beijing strategic and economic dialogue is made more difficult by thorny issues such as anti-terrorism in the Middle East, North Korean nuclear tests, disputes in the South China Sea islands and reefs, and Internet security. Beijing and Washington are establishing a new major power relationship. This too requires stable cross-Strait relations.
Stable cross-Strait relations are essential for a win/win outcome for both sides. Currently no hotline links heads of state on the two sides. No direct line of communication is available at international conferences or during visits by heads of state. Therefore the communications channels between between the two cross-Strait organizations, and the hotline between them must not be lightly interrupted .
Tsai Ing-wen, the front runner in the current presidential election, has made “opposition to black box operations" in cross-Strait agreements a major issue. This rules out normal channels of communications between governments, including special envoys and back channel negotiations. The DPP and Beijing do not trust each other. Should an unexpected development arise, should either party misjudges the other side's motives, should either party respond wrongly, the consequences will be serious indeed.
Before the inauguration of the new government, Xi Jinping should consider meeting with the president elect in a third locale, in a manner similar to the Ma Xi summit. Such a meeting could narrow differences, defuse crises, even lead to an historic reboot of cross-Strait relations. If Beijing insists on adherence to the 1992 Consensus, a “Tsai Xi summit” would be premature. In that case, the two sides should continue communicating through the existing hotline between the MAC and Taiwan Affairs Office. They must control and manage risk. They must ensure that divergent political stances do not lead to stalemate. They must control the damage as much as possible. They must avoid overreactions that could cause cross-Strait relations to spin out of control.
Tsai Ing-wen may become president. She must, as soon as possible, establish a green camp administration, implement inter-party consultations, and reach a consensus with opposition parties. The newly-elected Legislative Yuan will review the "cross-strait agreement oversight regulations". That will be its first litmus test. The two leaders have yet to establish mutual trust. In the meantime, the DPP should view cross-Strait exchanges pragmatically. The newly-elected legislature can pass legislation that will gradually restore trust and communications with Beijing. Following inauguration, the two sides must reestablish communication channels, avoid misunderstandings, and ensure stable cross-Strait relations.
中亞到北韓，外部安全情勢更加動盪。就經濟而言， 成長動能已明顯趨弱，轉型壓力本已極緊迫，更遭遇美元強升、 人民幣重貶、全球股災肆虐的考驗；就對台關係而言， 台灣很可能再次政黨輪替，兩岸關係又陷入不穩定狀態。
面對嚴峻的外在壓力，更需要與各利害關係國及地區攜手合作， 確保區域穩定，擴大經貿合作，挹注新的經濟動能。 兩岸關係的穩定，更是區域安全和經貿合作平穩運行的定海神針。 兩岸關係沒有動盪的本錢，必須攜手合作， 共建處理政治分歧和衝突風險管控機制。
雖然台海情勢不免受到台灣內部政治版圖變化的牽扯， 但馬政府仍然在困難環境下， 繼續推動兩岸各項合作和深化制度性交流機制。 即使在大選前的敏感時刻， 兩岸實現了最高領導人在第三地的歷史性會晤； 並且積極的設置兩岸事務主管部門首長的熱線電話；啟動3個試點城 市陸客中轉；自105學年度起，將擴大開放大陸專升本學生名額； 兩岸貨貿協議協商在艱困的談判中繼續進行， 兩岸交流持續正向發展。兩岸關係近8年來的穩定交流， 和平紅利不僅兩岸人民受惠，整個亞太區域同樣分享。
九二共識」的爭執，對當前穩定向前的兩岸關係投下新的變數。 北京已數度發出諸如「九二共識」政治基礎不存在，兩岸關係將「 地動山搖」的警告，民進黨雖然評估兩岸不致於爆發軍事熱衝突， 但也認為北京很可能中止兩會協商機制、官方熱線、陸客中轉， 或者進一步停止陸客來台觀光、取消讓利政策、 加速對台灣高科技產業抽單等手段，甚至讓台灣遭致「 雪崩式斷交風暴」的衝擊，達到北京所謂的「地動山搖」的效應。
，如果兩岸經貿受到衝擊，更可能造成台灣近百萬人的失業潮， 對力求經濟回升的台灣，當然會形成相當的壓力， 可能重返執政的民進黨，選後應即戒慎周全地籌畫， 以因應兩岸關係的最新挑戰。
將不利於爭取台灣民心，也不利於大陸在2020年全面建成小康社 會的目標；而且實現新的「十三五」經濟計畫， 也有兩岸維持經貿合作的實際需要，北京要推動「一帶一路」戰略， 更需要穩定的區域關係。
南海島礁爭端、網路安全等棘手的熱點問題，將使美、中在年度「 戰略與經濟對話」中處理控管風險和分歧的困難度增大。 大陸要與美國朝建立新型態大國關係方向繼續深化， 也需要有穩定的兩岸關係。
由於兩岸最高當局目前不存在「元首熱線」，也無從在國際會議、 元首互訪等活動中直接溝通，建立緩解爭端共識， 已經建立的兩會協商和主管部門的熱線機制，絕對不應輕言中斷。
協議的大旗，一般正常國家間採取的特使斡旋、 第二軌協商等溝通管道，新政府可能無法建立。 萬一未來發生突發性意外的事件， 民進黨政府與大陸間原本就互信不足，如果任何一方誤判對方動機， 做出錯誤回應，後果將非常嚴重。
在第三地讓總統當選人與習近平會晤，既有助於縮小分歧、 化解危機，也可能把兩岸關係帶入新的歷史起點。 如果大陸必須堅持九二共識，「蔡習會」的條件仍不成熟， 兩岸也應繼續透過現有的陸委會與國台辦會晤機制和熱線電話， 持續溝通、控管風險，讓政治立場歧異造成的僵持、 傷害能夠約制在適度且合理程度內，避免誤採過當的回應措施， 讓兩岸關係的裂痕和損害陷入螺旋式加深。
整合泛綠營隊伍，落實跨黨派協商機制，形塑朝野共識。 尤其立法院新會期「兩岸協議監督條例」的審查， 將是第一個試金石。在雙方領導人尚未建立互信基礎之前， 民進黨可以從務實看待兩岸交流， 從新國會積極推動相關立法和政策著手， 逐步重建和北京的互信和溝通的基調；在520之後， 雙方尤其應積極建立各層次溝通管道，避免誤判， 讓兩岸關係能繼續穩定向前。