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2015年11月10日 (火)

中台首脳初会談 急接近は地域安定に役立つか

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Can sudden Beijing-Taipei detente help promote regional stability?
中台首脳初会談 急接近は地域安定に役立つか

For the first time since the Chinese mainland and Taiwan split in 1949, the top leaders from both sides of the Taiwan Strait have met face-to-face. This is definitely a historic meeting.

What influence can the sudden move toward rapprochement between Beijing and Taipei, each of which has refused to recognize the other’s sovereignty, have on the prospects for East Asia’s peace and prosperity? This question must be carefully scrutinized.

China’s President Xi Jinping and Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou had the meeting on Saturday in Singapore, reconfirming what is referred to as the “1992 Consensus” based on the principle of “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what that means.

Regarding Beijing-Taipei relations, Xi stressed in the meeting, “I hope the two sides will make joint efforts ... to uphold the 1992 Consensus ... keep the right direction in the development of cross-Strait relations.” Ma was said in response to have praised the current state of the relationship, noting the relations between the sides were “the most peaceful and stable period.”

China has positioned the Beijing-Taipei summit as a strategic step toward future unification of the two sides. The summit can also be deemed to have stemmed from a well-calculated step on Xi’s part that was designed to demonstrate at home and abroad his intent to play a leadership role in addressing the Taiwan problem.

It is considered likely that the upcoming presidential election in Taiwan, scheduled for January next year, will lead to a change of government for the first time in eight years. Opinion polls show the candidate backed by the largest opposition party, the Democratic Progressive Party — which leans toward independence for Taiwan — has a wide lead over the candidate supported by the ruling Nationalist Party (Kuomintang), which has been pushing a conciliatory stance toward China.

Summit could backfire

Xi intends to indirectly support Kuomintang. Ma, for his part, is keen to recover lost political ground at home by urging voters to support his party’s pursuit of a stable relationship between Taiwan and China. The Xi-Ma summit was realized because the political motives of both sides were well aligned.

Ma, who is to leave his post in May next year, was probably also motivated to realize a meeting with China’s leader on an equal footing as his political legacy. However, it cannot be denied that the decline in popular support for the Kuomintang is due to the party’s policy of hastily getting closer to China economically, a policy that Ma has openly promoted since taking office in 2008, resulting in growing dependence on Beijing.

Anxieties have been spreading among residents of Taiwan that the region will be absorbed by China. There is also deep-rooted resentment that Taiwan’s closer ties with Beijing have benefited only the wealthy people.

An overwhelming majority of Taiwan’s residents want to maintain the status quo, neither unifying with China nor becoming independent. The summit this time will not necessarily benefit the Kuomintang in the presidential electoral campaign. On the contrary, the Xi-Ma meeting may backfire.

The agreement by the two leaders not to adopt a joint declaration presumably resulted from the two taking such circumstances into account.

Amid the intensified U.S.-China confrontation over the South China Sea, it could be inferred that Xi intended to use the summit to create distance between Taiwan on one side and Japan and the United States on the other.

In the meeting, Xi welcomed the participation by Taiwan in the China-initiated Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Directly supporting Taiwan’s participation in the bank in the summit after excluding Taipei as a founding member can be seen as part of China’s strategy to “embrace Taiwan.”

China, which has an overwhelming advantage over Taiwan in terms of both air and naval capabilities, has arrayed a large number of ballistic missiles on its coast. Stability of the Taiwan Strait is a matter of high importance that could affect Japan’s security.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 8, 2015)


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