Sun, Oct 23, 2011 - Page 8 News List

Peace accord an electoral gamble

By Liu Shih-chung 劉世忠

During Ma’s first year in power, his government sent signals regarding negotiations on political issues, including a peace accord, especially when Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) first visited Taipei in late 2008. Ma gave Beijing the impression he was interested in touching upon some political issues. Academics and think tanks close to the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party have jointly conducted research on the content of a peace accord.

However, Ma changed his original intention and adjusted the strategy toward “economics first, politics later” and “easier things first, hard issues later” after his administration suffered from the poor management in the aftermath of Typhoon Morakot in August 2009. Profound differences and mistrust appeared between Ma and China’s leaders.

Beijing has yet to respond to Ma’s new elaboration of a peace accord for several reasons. For one thing, it believes Ma is not trustworthy and his new stance is simply driven by electoral calculations.

The proposal for a referendum also crosses China’s “red line,” regardless of whether Ma was serious about it. Moreover, since China will have its own power succession late next year, negotiations on a peace accord with Ma are not at the top of its national agenda. For potential new Chinese leader Xi Jinping (習近平), maintaining economic growth and social stability are top priorities, not Ma’s hidden agenda.

Liu Shih-chung is a senior research fellow at the Taipei-based Taiwan Brain Trust.

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