Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Great cross-strait misconceptions

The longer Taiwanese and Chinese who support cross-strait economic liberalization continue to talk past each other, the more painful it will be when both realize that their expectations cannot be met

For all its vaunted benefits, the growing economic relationship across the Taiwan Strait seems to be premised on false assumptions that could eventually derail dialogue and engender dangerous frustrations.

On one side is China, which has made no secret of its belief that increasing the flow of economic interaction and investment across the Strait would, according to some law of economic determinism, win the hearts and minds of Taiwanese and reconcile them to the idea of unification.

Despite claims by President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration that cross-strait economic integration does not undermine Taiwan’s sovereignty, Beijing has consistently reminded the world that the process itself is a means to bring about unification.

Whether Ma and his officials believe their own claims or are too naive to see through Zhongnanhai’s strategy is beside the point, as in Beijing’s eyes the coveted end goal remains the same, regardless of Taipei’s complicity.

In Taiwan, many supporters of greater economic activity across the Strait, from farmers to leaders of large corporations, have also approached the process from the wrong angle.

My editorial, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.

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