Lin Chien-fu (林建甫), chairman of the Taiwan Competitiveness Forum and professor of economics at National Taiwan University, said last week in an article on the implications of Taiwan signing a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) with China that a CECA falls in between Free Trade Agreements (FTA) and Closer Economic Partnership Arrangements (CEPA) and that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) considers CECAs a future “third path” for cross-strait interaction (“Signing a cross-strait CECA — Academics say: ‘We should not harbor unrealistic expectations of China,’ 兩岸簽署CECA // 學者:不應對中國有不符現實期待,”Liberty Times, Op-Ed page, Jan. 14.).
Lin said a CECA could avoid the conflict over “state-to-state” relations as well as any associations to belittling Taiwanese sovereignty, and it is primarily aimed at canceling customs tariffs, trade and investment barriers between China and Taiwan and the gradual establishment of a liberalized common market.
At the end of last year, Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) made a six-point proposal on cross-strait relations. In his second point, he mentioned signing a CECA between China and Taiwan. We must not forget, however, that such an agreement would have to be based on the premise that Taiwan and China share a common understanding of the “one China” principle, the first and most important point of Hu’s six-point proposal.
Under the “one China” framework, how can Taiwan sign a CECA with China and avoid having its sovereignty belittled?
Taiwan is not a part of China. The Treaty of Shimonoseki signed in 1895 by Japan and China officially cut Taiwan’s links to the territory of China. The Treaty of San Francisco, or the Treaty of Peace with Japan, which was signed by 49 nations on Sept. 8, 1951, in San Francisco, not only officially ended World War II but also saw Japan renounce its rights over the island of Taiwan, including the Penghu group of islands. After the Treaty of San Francisco came into force on April 28, 1952, Taiwan was no longer under the jurisdiction of any other nation in the world and Taiwan became collectively owned by the people of Taiwan.
The “one China, with each side having its own interpretation,” the “one China” framework, the Constitution of the Republic of China, the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China and China’s “Anti-secession” law are all one-sided declarations and are not sufficiently authoritative legally to replace the validity of the Treaty of San Francisco, an international treaty.
Signing a CECA on the basis of the “one China” framework means that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Chinese Communist Party would be joining hands to tear up the Treaty of San Francisco and working together to take away the rights of Taiwanese to decide Taiwan’s future. Viewed in this light, I cannot really see how such a CECA would usher in a new epoch.
Furthermore, while a CECA may seem like a way of moving toward economic integration and the establishment of a common market between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, it is in fact part of a greater plan toward political integration under the “one China” principle. I have talked about this in detail in several articles dealing with the Hong Kong economy and how it was affected by a common market with China, and on international comparative advantages if a common market was to be established across the Taiwan Strait. When viewed from the two core factors of Taiwan consciousness and Taiwan’s interests, it is extremely hard to see any need for a CECA.