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2014年2月15日 (土)

中台閣僚級会談 歴史的な一歩にはなったが

The Yomiuri Shimbun February 14, 2014
Beijing-Taipei ties mark historic advance, but much remains uncertain
中台閣僚級会談 歴史的な一歩にはなったが(2月14日付・読売社説)

Relations between China and Taiwan have entered a new chapter with the recent commencement of direct government-to-government dialogue.

We should keep a close eye on whether this latest development will boost stability in East Asia by helping ease tensions in the Taiwan Strait.

The chiefs of the highest-level governmental offices in charge of cross-strait affairs—Zhang Zhijun, director of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, and Wang Yu-chi, head of Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council—met in Nanjing on Tuesday and agreed to establish a permanent channel of communication between the two sides.

This is the first time a ministerial-level meeting between officials tasked with policies on China-Taiwan affairs has taken place since the 1949 split.

There has so far been no framework for dialogue between the Chinese and Taiwan authorities, with Beijing and Taipei refusing to acknowledge the other’s sovereignty. Talks on such subjects as bilateral economic cooperation have been conducted via “quasi-official” organizations on both sides.

From now, various forms of direct cross-strait interchanges between the Chinese and Taiwan authorities will be considered, including exchanging permanent representative offices.

It seems, however, there are major differences in the Chinese and Taiwan governments’ intentions in bringing about the historic ministerial-level talks.

President Ma Ying-jeou may primarily seek to gain China’s agreement to ease its trade regulations so as to expand Taiwan’s business opportunities in China, while pushing for China to acknowledge Taiwan’s status as a party to international economic agreements.

Can Xi-Ma talks take place?

Ma may have placed his hopes on restoring his popular support by realizing such outcomes. With unified local elections scheduled for toward the end of the year, the Ma administration’s popularity ratings have been painfully low due to reasons including the slowdown in Taiwan’s economic growth, widening economic disparities, corruption scandals involving Ma’s close aides and internal strife in his governing Nationalist Party (Kuomintang).

Chinese President Xi Jinping, in contrast, must have certainly considered the cross-strait talks as a launching point for political consultations for China-Taiwan unification.

However, Taiwan is wary of having political consultations with China, as a great majority of Taiwan’s residents support the status quo and reject the idea of unification with China.

The current focus of attention is on whether a meeting between Ma and Xi can be held at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum summit meeting scheduled for this coming autumn in Beijing.

Wheeling and dealing will continue between Taiwan, which places priority on gaining practical benefits, and China, which sees a direct cross-strait channel of communication as a foothold for political consultations for unification.

In spite of the creation of full-scale interchanges between Chinese and Taiwan authorities, there has been no change at all in the basic security situation surrounding Taiwan. China has not given up its long-standing option of eventually taking back Taiwan, by force if necessary. Taiwan, for its part, is dependent on the backing by the United States for such matters as purchasing weapons.

For Japan, Taiwan is most certainly an important neighbor for restraining China’s acts of hegemony in such areas as the East China Sea, including the Senkaku Islands.

While watching closely what impact closer China-Taiwan ties will have on the future of the regional situation, Japan should make efforts to further boost its friendly relations with Taiwan.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 14, 2014)
(2014年2月14日01時44分  読売新聞)


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