May 2, 2008

No Radical Changes In Taiwan-China Relations

Eyebrows have been raised around the world at the news that Taiwan's incoming President has appointed Lai Shin-yuan as Chair of the Mainland Affairs Council (Minister for relations with China). Lai is a member of the pro-independence Taiwan Solidarity Union and was for some years prior to running for the Taiwan legislature the economic advisor to outgoing President Chen Shui-bian.

This appointment is a smart move by President to be Ma as it will demonstrate that he has no intention of selling Taiwan out to the mainland. No one can accuse Lai of pro-China sentiment!

Lai has also made it clear in her comments that she is willing to improve relations with China, but only in a gradual way.

Lai is a development economist close to New Zealand economist Professor Robert Wade. She sees a role for the state in nurturing industry in a way that we at The Hive do not see as either necessary or sensible. As is clear from this FT article today Lai's development economics past is going to influence the future of Taiwan-China relations.

Aside from Wade, Lai has a number of other close contacts with New Zealand connections. She was very active within in Taiwan's APEC and WTO processes for many years.