China's official English newspaper, the China Daily, and Xinhua News Agency reported on July 19 that Wang Zaixi (王在希), deputy director of the Tai-wan Affairs Office of China's State Council, officially pro-
posed an agreement resembling a free-trade agreement (FTA) to Taiwan and called for both sides of the Taiwan Strait to quickly set up a mechanism for economic cooperation.
Why is China proposing an FTA with Taipei at this point in time? Not long ago China warned the US and Japan that it opposed any country signing an FTA with Taipei. Is it possible that Chinese leaders have come around to recognize our sovereignty and want to sign an agreement with us on an equal basis?
Of course not. If the people of Taiwan can cast aside the "Greater China" ideology, we will immediately understand China's evil plan to bait Taiwanese businesspeople and compel them to destroy President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) policy against direct transportation links under the "one China" principle.
Beijing's unification trick is indeed quite clever. If you don't fall into the trap of direct transportation links under the "one China" principle, Beijing will get you hooked by offering lures that make you lose reason and resistance. China will also beat drums and strike gongs around you to make you fall into its trap to be slaughtered.
For example, former premier Zhu Rongji's (朱鎔基) ASEAN plus China summit plan in 2001 and the subsequent ASEAN plus three summit plan both highlighted Taiwan's exclusion and tried to make us feel that Taiwan would be marginalized if it did not unify with China as soon as possible. This was effective at the time. Some economic think tanks even followed in the footsteps of those people who use commercial affairs to promote unification. They advocated direct transportation links and argued that Taiwan should integrate with China economically as soon as possible in order to make China a central region for Taiwan and enable it to march into east Asian markets.
Fortunately, China's beating of drums and gongs did not succeed because of our country's persistence in acting in a rational man-ner. The people also gradually understood through rational analysis that the negative impact of direct transportation links on the overall economy is far greater than the convenience and profit gained by the business enterprises and individuals. When he met with foreign reporters earlier this month, Chen said he objected to direct transportation links under the "one China" principle. It was a setback for Beijing's policy to absorb Taiwan economically.
The proposal of a quasi-FTA is an attempt by China to cope with the new situation. Most likely Beijing's objective is to use actual benefits and incentives to enhance the trick of using commerce to attack the government from all sides and support the unificationists forces in this country
Would signing an FTA with China be advantageous? No. Would signing an FTA with the US or Japan be advantageous? Yes. Any FTA between Taiwan and its trading partners would be advantageous to the long-term development of the nation's economy -- except for an FTA with China.
The reason China is the exception is the two economic systems of China and Taiwan use the same language and that there is a wide difference in the size of their populations and territory. Under these objective conditions in geography and culture, the more convenient the cross-strait traffic becomes, the more the two economies become integrated.