Both sides of the Taiwan Strait face too many constraints to be able to rush into a peace accord, even if they wanted to
With his re-election on Jan. 14 to a second four-year mandate, rumors have begun circulating in pan-green circles that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) could be tempted to broach the issue of a peace accord with China before the end of his second term — or even within a year.
Even if the executive here and in Beijing had such intentions, the chances of a peace accord are very slim, as too many variables will act as brakes on any such move.
Ma first raised the issue of a peace accord in October, saying it would be feasible for Taiwan to sign such an agreement with China within a decade. Those remarks, ostensibly the result of pressure from Beijing and Washington rather than Ma’s initiative — given the awkward timing of the announcement, three months before the election — immediately alarmed Taiwanese and forced Ma to add conditions for the signing of such an accord, including a referendum.
Beijing would be expected to seek to include in the accord such conditions as the framing of Taiwan as a province of China rather than as a sovereign state, the cessation of US arms sales to Taiwan and perhaps the abrogation of the US’ Taiwan Relations Act. For Beijing, the ultimate objective of the accord would be the unification of the two countries.
Such fundamental changes in Taiwan’s relationship with the US, its one longstanding security guarantor, cannot be accomplished overnight, even if some elements within the White House appear intent on neutralizing the “Taiwan question.”
My unsigned editorial, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.