Tai­wan new leader has to abide by 1992 Con­sen­sus

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE -

With the lead­er­ship elec­tion in Tai­wan sched­uled for Satur­day, both sides of the Tai­wan Straits are wait­ing to see whether the is­land’s newleader would con­tinue to abide by the his­tor­i­cal 1992 Con­sen­sus. The con­sen­sus, which com­mits both sides to the one-China prin­ci­ple, should keep serv­ing as the political foun­da­tion of cross-Straits re­la­tions, be­cause it is in the best in­ter­est of com­pa­tri­ots on both sides of the Straits.

Since the Kuom­intang, which ad­heres to the con­sen­sus, wrested the is­land’s lead­er­ship from the Demo­cratic Pro­gres­sive Party in 2008, fa­vor­able progress has been made in peace­ful cross-Straits ex­changes de­spite the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis.

On its part, the Chi­nese main­land man­aged to not only se­cure its eco­nomic well-be­ing, but also boost its trade and in­vest­ment co­op­er­a­tion with Tai­wan, which has ben­e­fited a lot from the in­creas­ing num­ber of di­rect flights across the Straits, as well as the flow of main­land tourists, stu­dents and cap­i­tal in re­cent years.

The Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion Frame­work Agree­ment signed in 2010 fa­cil­i­tated a sle­wof cross-Straits ne­go­ti­a­tions on in­vest­ment, and trade in ser­vices and goods un­til two years ago, when op­po­si­tion protests on the is­land stalled the in­ter­ac­tion.

Since the main­land is un­der­go­ing an eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion and Tai­wan is strug­gling to boost its eco­nomic per­for­mance, cross-Straits in­vest­ments are in­deed be­gin­ning to slow down. How­ever, the main­land’s shift­ing eco­nomic fo­cus has cre­ated a va­ri­ety of op­por­tu­ni­ties that Tai­wan can cash in on to upgrade some of its out­dated en­ter­prises, in­clud­ing those man­u­fac­tur­ing orig­i­nal equip­ment.

The main­land’s cross-Straits pol­icy has al­ways ac­corded pri­or­ity to the well-be­ing of Tai­wan com­pa­tri­ots and en­ter­prises. Also, the main­land’s transna­tional co­op­er­a­tive projects, es­pe­cially the Asian In­fra­struc­ture In­vest­ment Bank and the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive, can ben­e­fit com­pa­tri­ots across the Straits.

De­spite the mi­nor bumps, both sides are still en­joy­ing the div­i­dends of the en­hanced eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion and peo­ple-to-peo­ple ex­changes of the past eight years be­cause their rul­ing par­ties (es­pe­cially the Kuom­intang) ad­her­ence to the 1992 Con­sen­sus.

The main­land and Tai­wan have be­come in­sep­a­ra­ble in many re­gards af­ter years of shared peace­ful de­vel­op­ment. For ex­am­ple, in less than eight years, the num­ber of di­rect cross-Straits flights has in­creased from zero to 120 a week, more than 18 mil­lion main­land tourists have vis­ited Tai­wan and at least 35,000 main­land stu­dents have cho­sen to study there.

Al­though the cross-Straits trade vol­ume and Tai­wan’s in­vest­ment in the main­land mar­ket de­clined last year, in rel­a­tive terms, the land­mark meet­ing be­tween Xi Jin­ping andMa Ying-jeou in Sin­ga­pore in­Novem­ber has al­ready borne fruit as a hot­line was opened a month later to link the cross-Straits affairs chiefs on the two sides.

The­meet­ing also laid out the ba­sic guide­line for deep­en­ing cross-Straits eco­nomic in­te­gra­tion, which could get a shot in the arm from the main­land’s “new(eco­nomic) nor­mal” and the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20). In other words, Tai­wan’s newleadership has to abide by the 1992 Con­sen­sus and value its con­tri­bu­tions to the is­land’s de­vel­op­ment if it truly seeks to ex­pand its pres­ence in the main­land mar­ket and re­gional eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion.

Ob­jec­tively speak­ing, the con­stantly im­prov­ing crossS­traits tieshave ev­ery­thing todowith both sides up­hold­ing and­deep­en­ing the con­sen­sus. The­main­lan­dis will­ingand has the ca­pa­bil­ity toim­proveTai­wan­com­pa­tri­ots’ well-be­ing, whichit sees as partof its re­spon­si­bil­ity, but on­ly­on­the ba­sis of shared re­spect for the 1992 Con­sen­sus that lays the political foun­da­tion of cross-Strait re­la­tions.

The au­thor is a pro­fes­sor at the In­sti­tute of Tai­wan Stud­ies, Bei­jing Union Univer­sity.

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