Thu, Feb 26, 2009 - Page 8 News List

Taiwan may be left out in the cold

By Tung Chen-yuan 童振源

Although a cross-strait economic integration agreement would be beneficial to Taiwan’s overall economy, there are other things to consider, such as the cost of economic structural adjustments, political implications and overall economic integration strategies.

When the government said it would not accept a CEPA, its decision was based on political considerations. Even if the government hopes to avoid denigrating Taiwan’s sovereignty by signing a CECA, this does not mean that Beijing won’t try to belittle Taiwan within the CECA framework. After all, Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) said late last year that China would only sign such an agreement with Taiwan based on the “one China” principle. This is why the Ma administration must not ignore the opposition’s concerns that an agreement would denigrate Taiwan’s sovereignty.

Finally, Taiwan is having problems joining East Asian economic integration, not a problem with the two sides of the Taiwan Strait being unable to sign an economic integration agreement. A cross-strait CECA would not mean that China would agree to Taiwan signing economic integration agreements with the US, Japan or ASEAN.

Even if a cross-strait CECA meant that China would be less averse to Taiwan signing economic integration agreements with other countries, Ma cannot rely on Beijing’s goodwill and must come up with a more substantive and complete comprehensive economic integration strategy. If it doesn’t, Beijing will gain control of any bargaining chips that Taiwan might be able to play in CECA negotiations, as well as over the progress of Taiwan’s participation in East Asian economic integration.

Tung Chen-yuan is an associate professor in the Graduate Institute of Development Studies at National Chengchi University.

TRANSLATED BY PERRY SVENSSON

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