News / Asia

    Taiwan Resisting China's Most Ambitious Plans For Stronger Ties

    FILE - Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou.
    FILE - Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou.
    Ralph Jennings
    China has offered a series of proposals to Taiwan over the past half decade to develop stronger ties with the self-ruled island. Beijing wants Taiwan under its control after 65 years of self-rule. Investment and trade deals have won approval on the island, but some of China’s more ambitious projects are falling short as Taiwanese worry about getting too close.
     
    Among the proposals offered by Chinese officials are a bridge, or tunnel, linking the mainland to the island and joint administration of a China-controlled island between the two sides. The two sides are meeting in China this week, but are unlikely to touch these items.
     
    Taiwan has hinted that such mega projects will not work. Liu Yi-jiun, a public affairs professor at Fo Guang University in Taiwan, thinks the public will resist moves that hint of unification.
     
    “To reunify two different sides of the Taiwan Strait is a very clear goal. However, we have to take into consideration how Taiwanese people really think. On the one hand, mainland China is willing to try anything to try to get more goodwill on the part of Taiwan. However, Taiwan, because its size is too small, population too little, people here are very skeptical about how much we can get,” said Yi-Jiun.
     
    Taiwan split from China following a civil war in 1949, but Beijing still regards it as a breakaway province that will someday be reunified with the mainland. Beijing’s attempts to reclaim Taiwan hindered most links until 2008, when the island’s president, Ma Ying-jeou, put aside political issues to build trust through trade and investment agreements. The two sides have reached 19 such deals during Ma's term.
     
    A 2008 agreement to allow mainland Chinese to visit Taiwan has stoked the island’s service sector. More than two million mainland tourists arrived last year. Taiwan will raise its quota this year on independent Chinese travelers from 3,000 to 4,000 per day. Two-way trade following an economic cooperation pact signed in 2010 surpassed $100 billion in 2010. Taiwan has also lowered barriers to mainland Chinese investment.
     
    China welcomes these moves as a way to commingle economies, part of its goal for eventual reunification. However, Taiwan has ignored a proposal for an $80 billion bridge or tunnel across the 160-kilometer Taiwan Strait by 2030, a symbol of unity. Taiwanese investors prefer the internationalized, developed Shanghai area to nearby Pingtan Island, which Chinese officials have picked as a test case for joint rule. A deal liberalizing service trade with China is stuck in Taiwan’s parliament.
     
    Alexander Huang, professor of strategic studies at Tamkang University, in Taiwan, noted the political barriers in Taiwan to further cooperation. Those barriers will keep Beijing's loftier ambitions off the table when the two ministries, Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council and Beijing's Taiwan Affairs Office, meet again in the future.
     
    “Some [issues] involve domestic politics in Taiwan or different interests of business and industry. I don’t think it will be put on the MAC-TAO agenda any time soon,” said Huang.
                  
    Huang Chun-jung, southern district head of the student association Taiwan Youth Public Affairs, said Taiwanese people will oppose plans that breach autonomy.
     
    Huang said Taiwan and China are basically enemies for now, and that people on the island can accept some economic proposals from the other side, but not all. China’s ideas, Huang said, must not violate Taiwanese autonomy.
     
    Beijing is expected to propose new pro-Taiwan schemes as the island readies for the 2016 presidential election. Ma Ying-jeou cannot run for office again due to term limits, and Beijing wants to impress voters so they replace him with a president friendly to China rather than one favoring greater Taiwanese independence.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.