Jun 19, 2008

Taiwan's China Policy

Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou has outlined his goals for the relationship with China.

Economic links first

President Ma Ying-jeou of Taiwan called on Wednesday for a rapid expansion of economic relations between Taiwan and mainland China over the next year or two that would go far beyond the weekend charter flights and increased tourism announced last Friday.
Mr. Ma said he wanted broad access to the mainland market for Taiwanese financial services businesses, an end to double taxation by government agencies in Taipei and Beijing and the removal of investment restrictions.
He also called for direct sea and air cargo links across the Taiwan Strait, regularly scheduled passenger flights, the drafting of common technical standards and the creation of a system to resolve commercial disagreements.
“I think if we could continue the current talks with them to achieve economic normalization, I’m sure the feeling of a peaceful environment will continue to grow, and this is exactly what we have in mind,” Mr. Ma said in his first interview with an American news organization since taking office on May 20. He spoke for an hour at the presidential palace on Wednesday afternoon.

International space and security second

Two other broad sets of issues will wait until his economic agenda is resolved, Mr. Ma said. These are Taiwan’s limited “international space,” in the sense that most of the outside world now recognizes Beijing instead of Taipei as the legitimate government of China, and security issues across the Taiwan Strait.
“I think that’s the order — first is economic normalization, and then international space and then the peace accord,” he said.
Economic agreements should also be easier to reach because officials in Beijing seem to have reached a consensus that they want such pacts, Mr. Ma said. No such consensus exists on the mainland regarding Taiwan’s international space or security issues, he added.
China has worked to block Taiwan from joining certain international bodies, like the
World Health Organization, something Mr. Ma said he would like to reverse. In addition, only 23 countries still have diplomatic relations with Taiwan, while 171 recognize Beijing. The two sides have vied for friends with lavish offers of financial aid.
Hu Jintao of China told a Taiwanese negotiator on Friday that he was certain that a way could be found to address this competition, Mr. Ma said, warning that he did not want to see any more allies lured away.
“The marginal utility of adding one country to that 171 list is getting less and less,” he said. “On the other hand, the 23 countries are very important to us as a source of dignity.”
Mr. Ma also repeated his demand that China remove the more than 1,000 short- and medium-range missiles that it has aimed at Taiwan. Their removal is needed before any peace talks can begin to end the legal state of hostility that has persisted since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949, he said. China has threatened the use of force to achieve political reunification.

The Hive is firmly of the view that some means needs to be found to have Taiwan a full member of UN functional agencies such as the WHO. As SARS demonstrated, having Taiwan outside the system meant that the rest of the world became vulnerable. Of course, being outside the WHO tent wasn't too good for Taiwan's population either.