the election of Chen Shui-bian as President,
moves toward economic integration between Taiwan
and the mainland have increased dramatically.
In late July 2000,
China Airlines of Taiwan began a deal to invest in China Cargo Airlines
(Shanghai), a deal that could position the Taiwan flagship airline
for the possible startup of direct air links.
For the first
half of the year, Taiwan's government reported that 341
investments were made in and with China worth over US $1 billion,
a 129.9 percent increase over the same period last year.
early June 2000, Lienchiang County (the group
of Taiwanese islands closest to the mainland
coast of Fujian province), approved measures
to allow direct trade links with the mainland.
county government measures open five ports to
direct trade although only Taiwan-based boats
will be allowed. The move legitimizes a small
volume of trade that has existed for some time
the end of April 2000 Taiwan-China trade was
up almost 30 percent from the beginning of the
year totalling over US $9.5 billion. Taiwan
has a very comfortable trade surplus with China
but imports from the mainland surged almost
50% to almost US $2 billion for the period.
from the mainland were primarily raw semi-finished
industrial products such as steel and machine
tools and consumer goods.
than half of Taiwan exports were machinery,
electronics, and plastics.
trade continues to be routed through the Hong
Kong Special Administrative Region.
on Agence France Press reports and Sinomania!
Originally posted on the eve of the Taiwan Presidential election
a well-orchestrated Guomindang
(KMT or Nationalist) party meeting, under a giant
portrait of China's republican founder Sun Yat-Sen,
party candidate Lien Chan has presented a "Ten Point
Peace Plan" calling for an end to tensions in the
Taiwan strait and offered a rough framework for resuming
high-level talks, opening trade zones, direct communications,
and the establishment of a "hot line" between Taiwan
issue of whether discussions of political reunification
should occur at a state-to-state level, raised in
1999 by outgoing KMT President Lee Teng-Hui, was not
directly addressed by Mr. Lien. Su Chi, the head of
Mainland Affairs Council , indicated that the
interpretation of the "one China" issue could be discussed
Is this a sign
that Taiwan will back down from its independence stance?
Perhaps the KMT leadership does not sense committed
support from the religious-minded Republicans in the
American Congress, their most powerful cheerleaders.
They may not be counted on in an election year in
the United States, particularly given the concerted
efforts of the still-in-power Clinton administration
to gain China's admission into the
World Trade Organization. More likely, however,
is the probable realization by the KMT party that
the vast majority of the Chinese island's population
(80%) want to maintain
status quo in developing integration with the
KMT party's two strongest challengers are similarly
promising a peaceful end to the division. James Soong
(a former KMT party member, now ousted) has said that
while Taiwan is not just another local government
under Beijing, it is not on equal footing with the
mainland government. Opposition candidate Chen Shui-bian,
once staunchely pro-independence, now supports direct
trade, investment, and shipping flows between Taiwan
and the mainland. Chen has said direct air traffic
Li Jiaquan, a senior advisor on Taiwan to China's
leadership, called the KMT party's proposal "positive
and rational." Indications are China is willing to
reenter negotiations for high-level talks but there
will be no discussion of the "one China" position.
The State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office pronounced
through a spokesman that the "delivery of the mainland
policy by a concerned person from Taiwan" would be
read and entertained.
Despite the condescending tone of the State Council
comment, reminiscent of Forbidden City pronouncements
in empires past, the desire for reunification is understood.
Behind the posturing of politicians and antiquated
political parties, a careful path is being set for
the economic integration and ultimate reunification
of Taiwan and the Chinese mainland.
direct trade, investment, business cooperation and
development, and open communications, China may accomplish
what eluded Germany in the 1990s--the careful integration
of two parts of her cultural and physical self, divided
since the last world war, but without the pain, loss,
and depression of one side suddenly ceasing to exist.
appears to be real on both sides. Expect to see large
inflows of investment and a big increase in trade.
Along with that Taiwan pop culture influences in music,
television programming, and more.
Much like the
slow road that lead to the uneventful reunification
with Hong kong, which began in the late 1970s and
allowed the surrounding areas to coalesce into one
well-developed regional economy by 1997, when political
reunification of Taiwan and the mainland occurs, if
it does occur in a framework we can even foresee at
present, it too will be a non-event.
1999-2000. All rights reserved.