News / Asia

    Chill in Taiwan-China Ties Expected After Change of Leadership

    Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party, DPP, presidential candidate, Tsai Ing-wen, waves as she declares victory in the presidential election in Taipei, Taiwan, Jan. 16, 2016.
    Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party, DPP, presidential candidate, Tsai Ing-wen, waves as she declares victory in the presidential election in Taipei, Taiwan, Jan. 16, 2016.
    Ralph Jennings

    As Taipei’s president-elect prepares to take office in May, ever tense but recently improved relations between China and Taiwan appear headed into a new slump, with the two sides unable to agree on how to hold talks that would build trust and allow the signing of agreements.

    If China and Taiwan avoid each other after Tsai Ing-wen becomes president, they will effectively suspend regular negotiations that have led to growth in trade and tourism, analysts say.

    China may retaliate 

    Agreements signed since 2008 have supported Taiwan’s now struggling export-driven economy. China may also follow existing deals less rigorously, and some believe it is now holding back tourists.

    Taiwan and China have been political rivals since the 1940s. The two Asian neighbors are self-ruled, but China claims sovereignty over Taiwan and insists that it be brought under its control as a finale to the Chinese civil war of the 1940s. Surveys show that most Taiwanese prefer today’s status quo.

    Current President Ma Ying-jeou opened talks with Beijing after he was elected in 2008. Each side agreed then to see the other as China, just subject to different interpretations, in line with the 1992 consensus. 

    FILE - Chinese President Xi Jinping and Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou, left, wave to the media during a summit in Singapore, Nov. 7, 2015.
    FILE - Chinese President Xi Jinping and Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou, left, wave to the media during a summit in Singapore, Nov. 7, 2015.

    New president not keen on dialogue with Beijing

    But voters felt President Ma had grown too close to Beijing after signing 23 agreements. In January they elected Tsai, who will take office May 20. She rejects Ma’s basis for dialogue with China, despite Beijing’s call this month for her to uphold it. Her party prefers to treat China as a separate country.

    “There won’t be any new economic agreements or people-to-people exchanges anytime soon after Tsai comes into office,” said Sean King, senior vice president with the consulting firm Park Strategies in New York and Taipei.

    “I also won’t be surprised if Beijing cuts back on tourists to Taiwan, an economic punishment as it were, to express its displeasure with Tsai’s refusal to recognize the 1992 consensus,” he said.

    The current government reached deals with China to open tourism, smooth investment and cut import tariffs, a particular boon to Taiwan as China is its number one trade partner by value of goods. The two sides have met formally at least twice a year since 2008 to sign those accords and lack other channels to make deals.

    A trade-in-goods pact is still being negotiated, and Taiwan legislators have not ratified a service trade liberalization agreement signed in 2013.

    FILE - Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson and presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen waves to her supporters after her election victory at party headquarters in Taipei, Taiwan, Jan. 16, 2016.
    FILE - Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson and presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen waves to her supporters after her election victory at party headquarters in Taipei, Taiwan, Jan. 16, 2016.

    Travel applications down

    In a possible sign of resistance from Beijing, travel applications from mainland Chinese have fallen 1.4 percent in the first nine weeks of 2016 compared to the same period of last year, said Jeff Yang, secretary general of Taiwan’s China policymaking body, the Mainland Affairs Council. 

    Travel agents say arrivals began declining before the election of Tsai on Jan. 16.

    But Yang said his agency lacks evidence to prove that China is taking measures to resist the change in president.

    “We have a lot of channels to seek this information and ways to demand a statement from the other side,” Yang said. “But we can’t see any actual evidence or boldly suppose that this kind of thing has happened. We could roughly theorize, but after all we need to be careful in seeking verification.”

    A drop in tourists from a 2015 peak of 3.4 million arrivals would threaten Taiwan’s service sector. It might also empty some of the direct commercial flights that emerged after 2008, said Raymond Wu, managing director of Taipei-based political risk consultancy e-telligence. 

    There are now about 890 direct flights per week between the mainland and Taiwan, up from virtually none before Ma took office.

    FILE - A TransAsia Airways plane at Taipei, Taiwan airport. There are now about 890 direct flights per week between the mainland and Taiwan.
    FILE - A TransAsia Airways plane at Taipei, Taiwan airport. There are now about 890 direct flights per week between the mainland and Taiwan.

    Pressure on Beijing

    “The president-elect’s rejection of today’s dialogue conditions without new ones that China accepts will put Beijing in a tough spot,” Wu said. “China hopes to charm Taiwan’s people as a gambit toward its goal of peaceful unification.

    “This is going to be a dilemma for Beijing,” Wu said. “If Beijing does all these things, of course there will be resentment from Taiwan. This would be going against what Beijing has said all along, that they’re resting their hopes on the people of Taiwan. But if they don’t do anything at all then they will be viewed as a paper tiger.”

    Tsai’s government has said it would uphold the agreements reached under President Ma. 

    In response to Beijing’s calls for accepting the 1992 Consensus, Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which has never recognized the deal, this month called for the peaceful development of relations.  

    When the new government takes office, the party said it will "maintain the status quo" and “do its utmost to ensure peace and stability." 

    You May Like

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora