Cross-strait relations are expected to stabilize following the re--election of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), academics said recently.
A leadership transition is expected late this year in China. Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (習近平), heir apparent to Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤), is expected to follow Hu’s policies on the Taiwan issue, academics said.
Chang Wu-yueh (張五岳), a professor at Tamkang University, said in a recent interview that after Xi succeeds Hu, he will have to first focus on a plethora of internal issues, so in the short term he is not expected to deviate from Hu’s Taiwan policy.
Lin Chong-pin (林中斌), a former Mainland Affairs Council vice chairman who is now a Tamkang University professor, said Xi has served in the coastal provinces of Fujian and Zhejiang and has had frequent exchanges with Taiwanese businesspeople.
Xi is also well versed in Taiwanese and US affairs, Lin said, adding that he will likely adopt a “softer and more refined” approach when dealing with Taiwan.
The Taiwan Affairs Office issued a statement after Ma’s re-election on Jan. 14 saying that it was willing to work toward further, peaceful cross-strait development based on the so-called “1992 consensus” and on condition that Taiwan continues a policy of not pursuing independence.
The “1992 consensus” refers to an alleged tacit agreement that there is only “one China,” with each side of the Taiwan Strait free to interpret the meaning of this term.
Academics in China said they foresee both sides continuing to deepen exchanges through existing platforms, based on the “1992 consensus”.
The academics, who declined to be identified, said that regarding the deepening of exchanges, a Chinese official’s pre-election remarks about “seven benefits” could indicate the direction of future cross-strait talks.
The “seven benefits” mentioned by Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait Vice President Li Yafei (李亞飛) are: imports of Taiwanese rice; entry into China for Taiwanese based on an ID card system; a cross-strait currency settlement mechanism; the opening of more destinations for direct air links and for residents of further Chinese cities to be able to travel to Taiwan independently; increased participation in international activities by Taiwan; follow-up talks on the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement and a cross-strait investment protection pact.