News / Asia

Q&A: China's Evolving Rapprochement With Taiwan

Wang Yu-chi, front left, head of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council, shakes hands with Zhang Zhijun, front right, director of China's Taiwan Affairs Office, before their meeting in Nanjing, in eastern China's Jiangsu Province, Feb. 11, 2014.
Wang Yu-chi, front left, head of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council, shakes hands with Zhang Zhijun, front right, director of China's Taiwan Affairs Office, before their meeting in Nanjing, in eastern China's Jiangsu Province, Feb. 11, 2014.
Victor Beattie
Cross-strait relations between China and Taiwan have embarked on "a fast-track to development," according China's state-run Global Times today. 

The Chinese news agency Xinhua says last week's first-ever formal meeting between the two cross-straits affairs offices in Nanjing signaled relations have "entered a new chapter." 

VOA’s Victor Beattie asked regional political analysts for an assessment of the relationship.  He spoke with professors Joseph Cheng of Hong Kong City University and Jean-Pierre Cabestan of Hong Kong Baptist University, and William Sharp at Hawaii-Pacific University:

BEATTIE: Where do you see the recent talks leading?

CHENG: The major objective on the part of both parties is to have a meeting between President  Ma Ying-jeou and President Xi Jinping at the APEC meeting to be held in Beijing in October.

BEATTIE: The official of China’s government indicated that such an APEC meeting between the two leaders would be considered inappropriate.

CHENG: Both parties intend to engage in some kind of bargaining.  Beijing says an informal summit would be inappropriate because of the potential of creating the image of equal, state-to-state relations. But Taiwan has important elections coming in November, and with the ruling Nationalist Party losing popularity, Beijing may feel it has a dwindling window of opportunity to achieve a reconciliation before the political debate begins.

SHARP:  The Nationalist Party is not doing well. They know it and the mainland knows it. They see their chances for ultimate unification better being served while the Nationalist Party is in power. The prospect of a meeting between the Chinese and Taiwanese presidents would serve the Nationalists well.

BEATTIE: What would be the the importance and the symbolism of such a meeting?

CABESTAN: Well of course the symbolism is very, very important in the sense that it would be a strong message to the world that Taipei and Beijing have reconciled, they have reached consensus in spite of their differences on many issues. And, that would also sort of constrain any subsequent leader of Taiwan to follow the same path, even if someone from the opposition party was elected president of Taiwan.

BEATTIE: So these meetings between Taiwan and Chinese officials will really have no bearing on cross-Strait relations for the present time?

SHARP: They’re bound to have some impact, but I think it’s fairly minimal. There is always the possibility of Taiwan establishing a de facto consulate on the mainland and the mainland establishing the same on Taiwan. There’s also talk about offering more medical services to two mainland students in Taiwan. Things like this could possibly happen.

CABESTAN: For President Xi, in the middle of an environment that is more tense with Japan and other Southeast Asian countries, the benefit of pursuing reconciliation with Taiwan is that it shows China can produce change and can develop a civilized relationship even with an historic foe.

You May Like

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

China-India Border Standoff Continues as Leaders Hold Summit

New Delhi accuses hundreds of Chinese soldiers of illegally entering Indian territory in disputed region of Ladakh More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid