A new study from a Washington-based think tank concludes that, looking at the future of cross-strait relations, “there are reasons for concern.”
The study, written by Chinese academic Chu Shulong (楚樹龍), says that if the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) regains power next year the impact on the “normalization process” between the two sides would be fundamental and significant.
According to the study — part of the Brookings Institution Northeast Asia commentary series — the relationship may not be able to move forward and business may not continue as usual because the two sides would have “returned to their fundamental differences and even confrontation on the issues between them.”
“If the DPP wins the election in Taiwan next year, cross-strait relations may come to a standstill again, even if the confrontation of a few years ago may not resume,” the study says.
The study is based on a series of private meetings over the past two years in which the Brookings Institution was involved, along with academic experts from Tsinghua University in Beijing and Taiwan’s National Chengchi University.
It says that two major issues discussed were “political talks” between China and Taiwan and security concerns, especially US arms sales to Taiwan and Chinese missiles targeting Taiwan.
The study says that participants in the meetings from China “tried to explain” that the issue of military deployments targetting Taiwan could only be resolved by “political talks.”
“Before reaching the long-term and systematic peace mechanism between the two sides, the mainland [sic] side has to rely on military deployment to some degree, to deter possible Taiwan movement toward independence, especially if a pro-independence force such as the DPP comes to power,” the study says.
“Besides, the mainland participants tried to convey to the Taiwan side that the mainland military deployment along its coast is no longer focusing on Taiwan, but increasingly goes beyond Taiwan and counters growing American military activities in the Western Pacific which are certainly a threat to China’s national security,” it adds.
If President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) wins a second term, the study says, there is a “great expectation” from China that the two sides should begin political talks and establish a long-term framework for future relations.
“If the two sides can engage in political talks and reach a peace or political agreement on the nature of their political and governmental relations, then it should be possible for them to make a long-term arrangement or mechanism for maintaining peace and stability between them,” the study says.
“They can officially and formally agree on a center line through the physical space of the Taiwan Strait and agree that units of the two militaries should [sic] cross over that line,” it says. “They can also set up an official, normal and regular contact between the two militaries, including a dedicated communication mechanism, to avoid misunderstanding and miscommunication. They can even talk about the military deployment and arms buildup issues, including arms purchases.”