Sat, Jun 12, 2010 - Page 8 News List

How to measure cross-strait peace

By Tung Chen-yuan 童振源

The state and direction of peaceful relations between Taiwan and China is a matter of global concern, so it would be helpful if we could develop a set of indices to empirically measure the situation and help compile an overall cross-strait peace index.

Such an index might be used to encourage progress in cross-strait relations and provide a much-needed warning in the event that either side does something to provoke conflict.

The degree of cross-strait peace is measured by objective factors such as military conflict, preparations for conflict and the will to resolve disputes through peaceful or non-belligerent means. In general, the absence of cross-strait military conflict can be called peace, though even with the absence of such conflict, it remains an open question as to whether the situation is stable and sustainable or could easily descend into military conflict.

As such, a peace index needs to do more than just demonstrate an absence of military conflict — it must also measure the stability and sustainability of peace.

Since it is hard to directly observe whether the two governments are willing to resolve disputes through peaceful means, stability and sustainability can be assessed according to three factors — the existence of institutional mechanisms to safeguard peace, regular interaction between the two governments and the extent of goodwill or animosity between ordinary people in Taiwan and China.

To achieve full marks, cross-strait peace must simultaneously meet four criteria — the absence of open military conflict, the existence of institutional mechanisms to safeguard peace, regular interaction between the two governments, the absence of animosity and the existence of considerable goodwill between the two populations.

However, these factors are covariant with multiple interlocking causes and effects, so the cross-strait peace index also needs to incorporate composite weighting.

For example, continued cross-strait consultations should be able to change the degree of animosity between people on the two sides. Talks can help improve interactions between the two governments and hasten the establishment of institutional mechanisms to safeguard peace in the Taiwan Strait.

Below, the content and scoring methodology applied to the four criteria and the composite weighting score is explained.

With regards to military conflict, failure to renounce the use of armed force to resolve cross-strait problems results in a score of minus 25 points. If any of the following occur, the score will be as follows: targeted military deployments, minus 25 points; war games, minus 10; military mobilizations, minus 15, and for military conflict, minus 25.

Looking at institutional mechanisms to safeguard peace, the scores are as follows: If the two sides sign a comprehensive economic agreement, 15 points; a diplomatic agreement of understanding, 20 points; establishing a cross-strait mechanism to build mutual trust in military affairs, 30 points and for a peace agreement, 35 points.

As to mechanisms for regular interaction between the two governments, the following scores are given: If there are no verbal attacks on leaders of the other side, 5 points; not accusing one side of altering the status quo or undermining peace, 5 points; sustained cross-strait consultations, 15 points; talks between vice ministers on either side, 10 points; talks between officials of ministerial or higher rank, 15 points; exchange of permanent representative offices, 25 points; and high-level talks between the two sides, 25 points.

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