China yesterday dangled the prospect of more trade and economic incentives for Taiwan ahead of elections next month, but warned the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) that closer ties would be at risk if it did not change its stance.
China has made little secret of its distaste for the DPP ahead of the Jan. 14 presidential election, even as DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has laid out a more moderate line on cross-strait ties.
President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has signed a series of economic and tourist agreements with Beijing since becoming president in 2008 and Beijing hopes he is re-elected and continues the rapprochement process.
Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Yang Yi (楊毅) told a news briefing that as long as cross-strait relations continued on their present path, Beijing would not rule anything out when it came to “helping Taiwan’s people and economy.”
“As long as both sides of the Taiwan Strait can continue to maintain the trend of peaceful development, [more preferential policies] will gradually be rolled out,” Yang said.
That could include setting up representative offices for the non-government bodies that handle talks between the two, simplifying entry procedures for Taiwanese visiting China, or importing Taiwanese rice into China, he said, without elaborating.
Taiwan’s push for closer economic ties with China reached a milestone last year when Taipei and Beijing signed the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), which cut import tariffs on about 800 items.
Cross-strait investment agreements for the financial and high-tech industries are also being considered further down the track.
“When conditions are right, we will sign more deals, using the ECFA to push for joint prosperity and development,” Yang said.
However, China said trade talks could only take place based on the so-called “1992 consensus.”
The DPP does not recognize that a consensus was reached then — nor does Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), who was president at the time, as well as a KMT member — even as Tsai has said an administration led by her would pursue a “balanced, stable and moderate” policy toward China.
Beijing has repeatedly accused Tsai of seeking Taiwanese independence, while saying it would not interfere in the elections. Yang repeated that only by recognizing the “1992 consensus” could China countenance talking with the DPP.
“If [the DPP] denies the ‘92 consensus’ and obstinately upholds its splittist position of ‘one country on either side of the Strait,’ then anything else they say is just empty talk, and there is no way cross-strait dialogue can happen,” he said.