The Sunflower movement helped block the passage of the non-transparent service trade agreement last year and the general view was that it was unlikely President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) could push through the agreement on the trade of goods with China.
However, things have changed in the past few days. The 11th round of bilateral talks between Taiwan and China on the trade of goods took place in Beijing this week, and on Tuesday, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokesperson Ma Xiaoguang (馬曉光) said the two sides have agreed to speed up discussions and hope negotiations will be concluded by the end of the year.
This is the first time a concrete timetable has been given for the talks. Taiwanese officials have also said that talks will be concluded by that time.
There are three reasons for the change. The first is geopolitical concerns. Talks over the Trans-Pacific Partnership are to resume this month and it is likely that an agreement will be reached before the year is over, with Taiwan expected to join the second round of talks next year. Faced with a possible transition of power in Taiwan, China wants the Ma administration to pass the service trade and trade in goods agreements before he steps down so that Taipei is firmly locked into the cross-strait economic integration framework.
The second reason is the differing fortunes of the pan-blue and pan-green camps. Beijing originally hoped to use big business to pressure the next government into continuing talks over the trade in goods agreement and then tie the agreement to the so-called “1992 consensus” and the “one China” principle to force its acceptance.
However, recent political developments, including the dim outlook for Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱), is making it more difficult for Beijing to get what it wants. China would prefer that the trade in goods agreement was firmly in place, rather than pursuing political and economic issues.
The third reason is that both the government and the opposition have relaxed their stances on the view, which they had reached following the Sunflower movement, that an act supervising cross-strait agreements should be passed before the service trade agreement would be reviewed.
When the protesters vacated the main chamber of the Legislative Yuan on April 10 last year, they issued a statement demanding that “the Ma administration should not be allowed to negotiate or sign any agreements with China before passing the act [supervising cross-strait agreements].”
Even China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits Chairman Chen Deming (陳德銘) has said that the passage of the trade in goods agreement would depend on whether Taiwan passed a supervisory act.
However, the tolerant attitudes of Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) toward the signing of taxation and flight safety agreements has led Beijing to re-evaluate the situation. It now thinks that the trade in goods pact can be signed without causing a backlash in Taiwan, even without a supervisory act having been passed.
Democracy is once again under threat. Taiwanese have repeatedly said that there would be no trade talks without participatory democracy and there would be no regional trade agreement without measures to promote social unity that would have an impact on distributive justice.
The talks over the trade in goods agreement must be halted.
Lai Chung-chiang is convener of the Economic Democracy Union.
Translated by Perry Svensson
South China Sea exercises in July by two United States Navy nuclear-powered aircraft carriers reminds that Taiwan’s history since mid-1950, and as a free nation, is intertwined with that of the aircraft carrier. Eventually Taiwan will host aircraft carriers, either those built under its democratic government or those imposed on its territory by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). By September 1944, a lack of sufficient carrier airpower and land-based airpower persuaded US Army and Navy leaders to forgo an invasion to wrest Taiwan from Japanese control, thereby sparing Taiwanese considerable wartime destruction. But two
This year, India and Taiwan can look back on 25 years of so-called unofficial ties. This provides an occasion to ponder over how they can deepen collaboration and strengthen their relations. This reflection must be free from excitement and agitation caused by the ongoing China-US great power jostling as well as China’s aggressive actions against many of its neighbors, including India. It must be based on long-term trends in bilateral engagement. To begin with, India and Taiwan, thus far, have had relations constituted by various activities, but what needs to be thought about now is whether they can transform their ties
As Taiwan is engulfed in worries about Chinese infiltration, news reports have revealed that power inverters made by China’s Huawei Technologies Co are used in the solar panels on the top of the Legislative Yuan’s Zhenjiang House (鎮江會館) on Zhenjiang Street in Taipei. However, what is even more worrying is that Taiwan’s new national electronic identification card (eID) has been subcontracted to the French security firm and eID maker Idemia, which has not only cooperated with the Chinese Public Security Bureau to manufacture eIDs in China, but also makes the new identification cards being issued in Hong Kong. There might be more
All lives eventually come to an end. Over the years, my friendship with former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) had its ups and downs. Lee’s passing was a heavy blow and has left me deeply saddened. We experienced a lot together and the memories have come flooding back. Lee was born several months earlier than me. During World War II, he was studying at Kyoto Imperial University, but halfway through his studies, he was forced to change his name and enter military service. I was studying at Tokyo Imperial University, but went into hiding to avoid military service, and I was later