Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Stop pretending that Taiwan is normal

The Taipei skyline on a muggy day
The sooner experts and officials abandon the illusion that cross-strait relations are normal, the faster Taiwan can fix its economy 

A great deal of talk that goes on about Taiwan involves a degree of self-deception, which, while being convenient, prevents decisionmakers from seeing reality and fleshing out policies to secure the nation’s future.

This was made all too clear at a conference in Taipei yesterday, where academics and officials from Taiwan, the US and Japan discussed the trilateral dialogue, with a strong emphasis on regional trade and integration. From the presentations given by several panelists, one would conclude that Taiwan’s participation in East Asian economic integration is almost a fait accompli, thanks in part to the more stable relations across the Taiwan Strait and the signing in June 2010 of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA). 

National Security Council (NSC) Secretary-General John Deng (鄧振中) conceded during a keynote speech that there had been political “bumps in the road” between Taipei and Beijing and he also vaunted the virtues of the ECFA and other agreements signed between the two sides under President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), adding that economic relations remained strong. 

Clearly, under Deng’s interpretation of the relationship with China, economics and politics are two distinct phenomena, with the latter having no influence on the former. 

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

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