News / Asia

China Renews Pressure on Taiwan for Political Talks

FILE - Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou raises his fist after giving a speech during National Day celebrations in front of the presidential office in Taipei, Oct. 10, 2013.
FILE - Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou raises his fist after giving a speech during National Day celebrations in front of the presidential office in Taipei, Oct. 10, 2013.
Ralph Jennings
China and Taiwan have shelved political hostilities for the past five years to reach a series of trade and investment deals, improving overall relations. Now, China’s president has made a fresh bid for sensitive political talks with Taiwan. However, Taipei’s politically weakened leadership may be unable to deliver.
China has claimed sovereignty over self-ruled Taiwan for more than six decades, and this month Chinese President Xi Jinping told the island that the two sides must eventually discuss their old political differences. Xi made the comment to a Taiwanese envoy at a regional economic summit in Indonesia.
Leonard Chu, an honorary professor specializing in communication and China at National Chengchi University, in Taipei, said the pressure from China should be expected, as should resistance from Taiwan.
“Ever since Deng Xiaoping was still around, he was saying that we want Taiwan to be back and in a matter of time we have to sit down and talk and we can’t just talk about economic issues.  Sooner or later, we have to discuss political issues. Xi wants to push toward that direction for sure, and Taiwan wants to delay it,” explained Chu.
China and Taiwan have been separately ruled since the Chinese civil war of the 1940s, when the Communists defeated the Nationalists. The Nationalists, or Kuomintang, moved their government to Taiwan, 160 kilometers off the coast. China considers Taiwan a part of its territory and has not ruled out the use of force to reunify the two sides.
However, the last military threat was made in 2005; three years later the two sides shelved political differences to sign economic, trade and investment deals that have lifted Taiwan’s economy. Last year, 2.6 million Chinese tourists visited Taiwan, making up 35 percent of the international headcount.
The latest pact would open 64 service sectors in Taiwan and 80 in China, but Beijing is bristling because the legislature in Taipei has stalled over the details.
Many have long viewed China’s goodwill on economic deals as a charm offensive designed to make the island’s public accept eventual political reunification.
This month’s comments from Chinese President Xi Jinping about finally resolving their political differences appeared to back that suspicion up. China wants talks to include a peace accord, Taiwan’s acknowledgement that the two sides belong to one country and more Chinese control over the island’s foreign relations.
Taiwan’s public supports business-related deals with China, the world’s second largest economy. Those pacts helped bring two-way trade to $121 billion last year.
Nonetheless, many Taiwanese remain leery of political agreements that could affect the island’s autonomy. Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou has been hampered by approval ratings in the teens and low 20s for much of the year. He cannot run for office again in 2016 because of term limits, but to help his ruling Nationalist Party’s reputation he is expected to want broad public support before talking politics with China.
Alexander Huang, strategic studies professor at Taiwan’s Tamkang University, thinks Ma must be careful if he meets his Beijing counterpart.
“The approval rating is pretty low right now, so we cannot say that he does not have the mandate of the people but he would be, I guess, extremely cautious if he thought about doing that. I think people would be interested to see whether… Ma Ying-jeou would be treated in an inferior position,” said Huang.
The Taiwanese president has declined to give a timetable for political talks, and the envoy who met Xi Jinping at the regional cooperation meeting made no further commitment. However, in the face of possible cuts in China’s economic largesse for staying quiet too long, Taiwan’s president is now deciding whether or not to visit China and its leader for the first time next year.

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Comment Sorting
by: jack from: china
November 15, 2013 4:37 AM
Taiwan is a part of china,no one can change this fact. but taiwan people have been fooled too long that many of them just feel hard to accept the turth,or even dont know them are just chinese.

by: Wu Hao Yu from: Taipei, Taiwan
October 24, 2013 11:52 AM
Thank you for the comment downstairs. I am Taiwanese, I insist that Taiwan be an independent country. We are not communists. We live in a democratic place where the government will not force a pregnant woman to do the abortion operation. I admit our president is a bumbler, but I am convinced that 2016 will be a new and hopeful turning point! Let's wait and see. Taiwan is not surbordinated to China!

by: ken from: u.s
October 23, 2013 3:57 AM
Taiwan is independent country with it's own government, Constitution, Taiwanese Own currency. Taiwanese got Taiwan passport "Not" PRC Passport.

It does not make any sense Why? China want to claim Taiwan as it's sovereignty.

"China" Fix your country first. Greed will ruin your appetite.

Live free and die free

by: A Taiwanese student from: DC, USA
October 22, 2013 1:42 PM
Yap, Taiwan belongs to China, the Republic of China.

The People's Republic never has, for one single day, ruled Taiwan in its 64 history. We are proud of our democratic and economic achievements, and hope to work with our Chinese friends (maybe future family?) towards a common peaceful and prosperous future. But Beijing really needs to recognizing this "inconvenient" truth first.

by: Anonymous
October 22, 2013 5:55 AM
Taiwan belongs to China.

by: Anonymous
October 21, 2013 1:04 PM
the north korean deployed nuclear weapon has been impacted the eastern asian safely. in the background have china sopport actually with north korean, why US not yet to support the taiwan build nuclear system weapon for improve the balance of politic bargaining chip for negotiation on taiwan?

by: Jonathan huang from: Canada
October 21, 2013 11:02 AM
Go China go!

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