To Members and Friends

One China Committee
Update 44 March 2014


Taiwan-China relations important, complicated: DPP chairman

Opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Su Tseng-chang described the relationship between Taiwan and China as an important but "complicated" on Friday January 24 in London.

China represents trade opportunities but also poses a military and political threat to Taiwan, Su said during a talk on the future responsibilities of the DPP at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies.

The relationship between Taiwan and China is important, complicated and sensitive, said Su, who is on a week-long long visit to Europe with the aim of establishing contact between his party and European countries.

According to Su, the Taiwanese people are concerned that trade pacts signed with China are not being properly monitored.

Su also commented on the status of Taiwan, saying that his party believes Taiwan is a sovereign and independent country and that any move to change the status quo will have to be agreed upon by the Taiwanese people through democratic means. �(Jennifer Huang and Christie Chen, CNA, Focus Taiwan, Jan 25, 2014).

No U.S. position on meeting between Taiwan, China presidents: envoy

The United States has not expressed any opinion on the possibility of a meeting between the top leaders of Taiwan and China, Taiwan's representative to the U.S. said Monday January 6.

Answering questions at the Legislative Yuan, King Pu-tsung said the United States has held a consistent position on the U.S.-Taiwan-China trilateral relationship, which is to welcome anything conducive to peace, stability and prosperity in the region.

No one from the U.S. administration has spoken to him about the issue, although think tank scholars have, he added.

The broad principle of the United States is to welcome communications between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, King said, adding that he does not know what Washington thinks about a possible top-level meeting.

In a recent interview, Ma said that he would be willing to attend the next leaders' meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum to be held in Beijing later this year.

The APEC forum would be an appropriate venue from Taiwan's point of view for Ma to meet with the Chinese leader, but it remains to be seen whether Beijing will be willing to show any flexibility and facilitate such a meeting. (Claudia Liu and Jay Chen, Focus Taiwan, Jan 6, 2014).

Taiwan President Ma Says ending China standoff will spur growth

Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou said in a New Year's address the government needs to end its political stalemate with China to spur economic growth. In order for Taiwan to take its economy to the "next level," the island would need a breakthrough in the "cross-strait standoff" and "boost cross-strait economic and trade cooperation," Ma said in a speech posted on the presidential website today.

Chinese President Xi Jinping signaled at a regional summit last year that he wanted to resolve the political impasse that has existed with Taiwan for over six decades, saying the issue shouldn't be passed from generation to generation. Taiwan has been self-governing since 1949, when the Kuomintang Party forces led by Chiang Kai-shek fled to the island during a war with Mao Zedong's Communists for control of China.

Taiwan in November trimmed its 2013 growth forecast to 1.74 percent from 2.31 percent as exports and industrial production decelerated. Exports, which made up about 60 percent of the island's economy in the third quarter, fell in September and October from a year earlier and were unchanged in November on slower demand from China, its biggest overseas market.

Taiwan must take part in regional economic integration in order to maintain economic growth, expand trade and investment, increase job opportunities and increase salaries, Ma said.

The Taiwanese leader also called for the ruling and opposition parties to work together to pass bills that will spur economic development. The delayed ratification of the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement has made Taiwan's trading partners less willing to sign FTAs with the island, Ma said. (Cindy Wang, Business Week, Jan 1, 2014).

Taiwan ex-VP Lien Chan meets Xi Jinping

A former vice president of Taiwan met China's top leader on Tuesday February 18. Lien Chan, also an honorary chairman of Taiwan's ruling Kuomintang (KMT) party, met President Xi Jinping at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, the official Xinhua news agency said. It did not immediately provide details of what was discussed.

The four-day visit by Lien, who arrived on Monday, follows the first government-to-government talks between Taiwan and China since they split 65 years ago after a civil war.

In an apparent nod to the political sensitivities of China-Taiwan encounters, the Xinhua report described Xi by his party title of �general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee� rather than as state president.

Similarly Lien was described as Kuomintang Honorary Chairman and not as a former vice president of the island.

According to Taiwan's Central News Agency, Lien told reporters in Taipei on Monday that he was not representing any organisation or political party, nor would he convey any message to Xi from Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou.

Exactly a week ago, Wang Yu-chi, Taiwan's top official overseeing China policy, met his Chinese counterpart Zhang Zhijun in Nanjing, in a symbolic yet historic move between the former bitter rivals.

Beijingn> still claims the self-ruled island as part of its territory awaiting reunification.

Lien became the first leader of the KMT, or Nationalist, party to visit China in 56 years when he met President Hu Jintao in 2005 to formally end hostilities with the Communists. Last year, Lien met Xi in Beijing.

Ties with China have improved markedly since Ma of the KMT which opposes Taiwanese independence became the island's president in 2008. He was re-elected in 2012 for a final four-year term. (South China Morning Post, Feb 19, 2014).

Taiwan's reunification with China inevitable, says US scholar

The unification of China and Taiwan is inevitable if China's power and influence continues to rise, says an American academic. John Mearsheimer, a professor in political science at the University of Chicago, penned the provocative piece entitled "Say Goodbye to Taiwan" for the March-April issue of The National Interest Magazine, which has quickly shot to the top of its website's most-read list.

In the article, Mearsheimer says that while China remains significantly behind the United States in terms of military power and that it's continued economic growth is not guaranteed, "power is rarely static," meaning it is very possible that years from now the balance of power could be shifted in China's favor, making it much less constrained than it is today.

When this happens, Mearsheimer writes, China will try to dominate Asia and seek to reduce, if not eliminate, the US military presence in the region. Even though the US will try to contain China's growing power, "[t]he ensuing security competition will not be good for Taiwan, no matter how it turns out in the end," he said, adding that the US commitment to protecting Taiwan could eventually become unpalatable for Washington.

The best possible outcome for Taiwan in this situation is "maintenance of the status quo, which means de facto independence," Mearsheimer says, with the worst possible outcome being "unification with China under terms dictated by Beijing." Another possible outcome outlined is a situation similar to Hong Kong's "one country, two systems," though surveys show that this has little appeal to most Taiwanese.

Mearsheimer suggests three strategies for Taiwan, the first of which is to develop its own nuclear deterrent, though this will likely elicit a strong military response from China. The second option is conventional deterrence, which is to make China fight a "protracted and bloody war to conquer Taiwan," but to do so Taiwan would require a commitment from the United States, which is far from guaranteed.

The third option is what Mearsheimer calls the "Hong Kong strategy," in which Taiwan acknowledges that it will inevitably lose its independence and works hard to ensure the transition s peaceful and that it gains as much autonomy as possible from Beijing.

Mearsheimer concludes that this third option is the most feasible, as unattractive as it may seem, given that Taiwan appears "destined to become part of China." (Want China Times, Mar 2, 2014)