Will Hong Kong continue to be a vital global business hub?
Mainland Affairs Council, "Current Situation, Future Prospects, Mainland Policy, 2nd Chiang-Chen Talks," November 2008
August 23, 2008
Current Cross-Strait Relations
Taiwan completed its second turnover of political power through the electorate’s voting decision on March 22, 2008. Since the new government assumed office on May 20, 2008, it has immediately taken into account the overall trends and changes in the prevailing domestic and international situations on the basis of previous groundwork. Moreover, it has established the national development objectives of forging Taiwan’s economic links with the international community. Thereafter, the new government has taken the initiative in extending its goodwill to mainland China. At the same time, it has seized the opportunity arising from mainland China’s willingness to make a goodwill response. As such, the new government has been able to resume institutionalized cross-strait negotiations within a short period of three months.
Over the past three months, the MAC has successfully completed the tasks assigned by higher authorities. Some of these were completed by the MAC on its own, while others were completed with the MAC taking the leading role in handling related matters.
First, the MAC has facilitated the resumption of the institutionalized negotiation channel between the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS). This has enabled the SEF and the ARATS to replace the previous confusing channels of cross-strait communication, thus resuming their role as the only government-authorized channels for cross-strait negotiations.
Second, the MAC has formulated and promoted the policy to allow all the people in the Taiwan Area to travel between Taiwan and mainland China via the “Mini-Three-Links” route. This has maximized the utility ratio of the “Mini-Three-Links” route to the benefit of the people of Taiwan.
The third is that the MAC has within the shortest possible time completed the negotiations on the two issues—including cross-strait weekend charter flights and opening up of tourism in Taiwan for Mainland tourists. With regard to addressing these two issues, the DPP administration had laid a certain degree of groundwork through cross-strait negotiations. In addition, the MAC has communicated with the Legislative Yuan to finalize amendments to relevant legislation within the shortest possible time to allow renminbi-NT dollar conversion business to be implemented in Taiwan. This brings to a satisfactory close an issue that was previously highly debated among the legislators.
The fourth is the formulation and promotion of related policies to ease restrictions to allow county magistrates and city mayors to visit mainland China for exchanges, which has satisfied the many-year-long requests from county magistrates and city mayors. However, in response to public opinion and concerns shown by the media, the MAC has also designed a “transparent mechanism” to serve as part of the opening-up measures. This is aimed at letting the general public gain access to the website of the National Immigration Agency and find out who among the county magistrates and city mayors are planning a trip to mainland China. Their proposed travel agenda and visitation reports upon their return to Taiwan will also be posted on the website. We hope that with support and joint oversight from the public, good effects of such exchanges and visits by Taiwan county magistrates and city mayors can be maximized.
The fifth is the further easing of restrictions to allow more Mainland reporters to be stationed in Taiwan. Mainland China has always lacked adequate press freedom, and has always suppressed media professionalism for political reasons. To help promote press freedom on the Mainland, the new administration has announced the resumption of news coverage by reporters to be stationed in Taiwan from the Xinhua News Agency and the People’s Daily, and has further allowed five other Mainland local media organizations to apply to station their reporters in Taiwan. (Currently, the Xinhua News Agency, the People’s Daily, China National Radio, CCTV, and the China News Service are the five Mainland media organizations that have been allowed to station their reporters to cover news events in Taiwan on a long-term basis.)
And lastly, there is the orderly relaxation of measures concerning cross-strait economic and trade exchanges. To implement the government’s policy ideas of “richly cultivating Taiwan while linking up with the world,” the government has implemented several relaxation measures—including a “Plan to Ease the Ceiling on Mainland-bound Capital Investment and Simplify Investment Review Procedures” and the Program on Relaxing Restrictions on Public Listing in Taiwan by Overseas Enterprises and Appropriately Allowing Mainland Capital to Invest in Taiwan’s Stock Market. We want to stress that the government’s promotion of relaxation measures concerning cross-strait economic and trade exchanges is aimed at linking Taiwan’s economic development with that of the international community. This will not only provide businesses with more room for investment decision-making and commercial operations, but will also create an infrastructure environment that can consolidate Taiwan’s economic strength. The policy objective is neither to encourage businesses to invest more in mainland China, nor, as what has been advocated by some people, to encourage the influx of mainland Chinese capital into Taiwan.
At this point, please allow me to give a brief summary.
Generally speaking, since assuming office on May 20 under the leadership of President Ma, the new government has established its future policy objectives. The new government has since made its best efforts to seize this moment when both sides are willing to extend goodwill to each other to usher in a new phase of cross-strait relations. I would like to point out that the opening-up and deregulation measures during the past three months were either formulated or promoted by the previous administration, and were items on which the ruling and opposition parties had reached a certain level of consensus. The main difference between the new government and the previous one is that the new government has taken the initiative in extending its goodwill. After having received positive response from mainland China, we immediately seized the opportunity to actively promote cross-strait negotiations and interaction. We also completed various relaxation measures at the fastest speed to leave more room for cross-strait interaction. Because of our goodwill gestures as well as continued positive responses from mainland China, we expect to usher in a new phase of positive interaction in cross-strait relations.
Prospects of Cross-Strait Relations
The promotion of cross-strait policies is a difficult task. It requires support and encouragement from all people and both the ruling and opposition parties. After all, we are writing the history of Taiwan. After I returned from abroad to take on jobs in either the public or private sector, I have always adhered to the principle of “putting Taiwan first for the benefit of the people.” Faced with the expectations and demand from the public, the MAC has a huge responsibility and is under more strong pressure from various sectors of society. However, my commitment remains unwavering.
The objective of the government’s Mainland policy is to maintain stability in the Taiwan Strait and to promote regional peace. The ultimate goal is to safeguard the interests, well-being, and dignity of the people of Taiwan. Due to the mainland China’s growing national strength and its long-term hostile attitude toward Taiwan, the people of Taiwan are worried that Taiwan’s survival and development will become threatened as cross-strait exchanges become increasingly closer.
In reality, the overall international situation is changing; mainland China is now on an irreversible path of having to be integrated into the international community. The survival and development of Taiwan cannot be solely dependent on our guard against mainland China and a decrease in cross-strait exchanges. Moreover, Taiwan needs to be integrated into the international community to ensure its survival and development. The sooner Taiwan can forge links with the international community, the faster and deeper this integration will become.
In the process of linking Taiwan with the international community, we cannot deliberately ignore mainland China. We should likewise reduce the unnecessary obstacles to cross-strait interaction. Needless to say, when we face the whole world and extend our goodwill toward the Mainland, we cannot neglect the question of whether or not mainland China’s antagonism toward Taiwan has decreased simultaneously, nor can we let any problems occur in the risk management process.
May 20 of this year signifies a historic opportunity for both sides of the Strait. We should seize this rare historic moment, pool the efforts and wisdom of both the government and the opposition, and urge mainland China to work together with Taiwan to minimize threats and maximize opportunities. Personally, I am confident that the MAC will safeguard Taiwan-centric identity and the interests of all people under the principle of “putting Taiwan first for the benefit of the people.” Moreover, the MAC will continue to promote cross-strait exchanges as well as dialogue and negotiations to improve cross-strait relations prudently and steadily. It is our hope that cross-strait relations will eventually return to the right track of positive development and achieve the objective of maintaining permanent peace across the Strait.
The peaceful and stable development of cross-strait relations is not only an important part of Taiwan's national existence, security and economic development, but also the greatest consensus among the people of Taiwan today. The government's Mainland policy seeks to maintain stability in the Taiwan Strait and promote regional peace, with the ultimate aim of upholding the rights, interests, welfare and dignity of the Taiwan people.
The inauguration of the new government on May 20 this year ushered in a rare historic opportunity for the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. In his inaugural address, President Ma Ying-jeou expressed hope that both sides of the Strait could seize this opportunity to jointly turn a new page of history for peace and co-prosperity. He urged both sides to "face reality, pioneer a new future, shelve controversies and pursue a win-win solution," and to strike a balance in pursuit of their mutual interests. This amply demonstrates the sincerity of the new government in promoting cross-strait relations. After several months of hard work, the two sides have resumed the institutionalized negotiation channel that had been suspended for nearly a decade. There has recently been a relative thaw in cross-strait relations and this has been conducive to the peaceful resolution to the controversies between the two sides.
Since May 20 this year, the majority of the people in Taiwan have expressed confidence in the government's ability to handle cross-strait relations and to stabilize future cross-strait relations. The people of Taiwan are especially satisfied with the resumption of the negotiation channel between the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS), as well as the completion of the two agreements concerning the issues of cross-strait charter flights and tourism. However, the people also expect more from the government in terms of the pace of cross-strait exchanges and related accompanying measures. As cross-strait interactions become more frequent, relations between the two sides are improving; however, mutual trust still needs to be established. As such, the government will be more cautious and steady in its promotion of Mainland policy, with a view to meeting the demands of the people and upholding the national interests and rights of the people.
II. The Government's Basic Position on Cross-Strait Interactions
1. Developing cross-strait relations under the principle of "putting Taiwan first for the benefit of the people"
The government has always adhered to the principle of "putting Taiwan first for the benefit of the people." Moreover, based on the premise of "no unification, no independence and no use of force" and "maintaining the status quo," the government is seizing the current historic opportunity to actively develop cross-strait relations. President Ma advocates that cross-strait peace should be established on the principle of “three wants,” which means “Taiwan doesn’t just want security and prosperity. It wants dignity." He also believes that the government should relax relevant cross-strait policies and regulations in an orderly manner based on an overall economic development strategy of "richly cultivating Taiwan while linking up with the world." In promoting its opening-up measures toward the Mainland, the government seeks to forge Taiwan’s links with the international community with the aim of upgrading Taiwan’s competitiveness, rather than making Taiwan tilted toward mainland China.
2. Promoting pragmatic and parity-related cross-strait negotiations and exchanges based on the principles of "shelving controversies and pursuing a win-win solution"
The two sides should shelve unnecessary political controversies and pragmatically face up to the status quo in the Taiwan Strait. Through the current institutionalized negotiation channel between both sides of the Strait, the two sides should engage in negotiations on economic and trade issues as well as other issues arising from cross-strait exchanges, so as to gradually build up mutual trust. This is aimed at safeguarding the rights and interests of the people on both sides and promoting positive interactions across the Strait.
3. Viewing cross-strait interactions from the perspective of “minimizing threats and maximizing opportunities”
Due to mainland China's growing national strength and a long-term lack of mutual trust across the Taiwan Strait, the people of Taiwan have been increasingly concerned that factors of this kind will affect Taiwan’s survival and development as cross-strait exchanges become increasingly closer. Nevertheless, under the tide of globalization, it is no longer possible for Taiwan to ensure its existence and security by entirely excluding contacts with mainland China. In cross-strait relations today, Taiwan cannot view the Mainland side simply as a threat. Rather, we should regard it as an opportunity. We should seek to "minimize threats and maximize opportunities," and properly utilize our advantages in cross-strait interactions, and thereby transform such threats into Taiwan’s competitive edge.
4. Promoting cross-strait reconciliation and truce through “flexible diplomacy” in the international arena
A dignified and autonomous international space and a strong national defense capability form an important foundation for ensuring lasting peace in the Taiwan Strait. In order to improve cross-strait relations, Taiwan adheres to the thinking of "flexible diplomacy" and will continue to promote cross-strait reconciliation and truce in the hope that the two sides can eventually help and respect each other in the international arena. In the future, on the basis of mutual trust and consensus that both sides across the Strait have established between them, the government will continue to develop diplomatic relations with allied countries, as well as actively participate in Asia-Pacific regional cooperation and functional international organizations beneficial to Taiwan's development. The government urges the Mainland authorities to face reality, shelve controversies, and flexibly and pragmatically deal with the issue of peaceful coexistence of the two sides in the international arena so as to achieve a win-win solution.
III. Recent Concrete Measures Taken by the Government to Promote the Development of Cross-Strait Relations
1. Resuming the institutionalized negotiation channel between the SEF and the ARATS
Since May 20, the government has actively promoted the resumption of the institutionalized negotiation channel between the SEF and the ARATS. This June, the two sides held the first "Chiang-Chen Talks" and signed the SEF-ARATS Minutes of Talks on Cross-Strait Charter Flights and the Cross-Strait Agreement Signed Between SEF and ARATS Concerning Mainland Tourists Traveling to Taiwan. This has not only created an opportunity for improving the cross-strait situation, but has also been conducive to promoting the normalization of cross-strait relations.
2. Promoting normalization of the “Mini-Three-Links”
On June 19, the “Mini-Three-Links” were expanded to allow all the people of the Taiwan Area to travel between Taiwan and mainland China via the “Mini-Three-Links” route in Kinmen and Matsu. This has maximized the utility ratio of the “Mini-Three-Links” route to the benefit of the people of Taiwan (as of August 31, nearly 1.65 million cross-strait person-trips were made via the “Mini-Three-Links” route). On September 4, the government passed the Program for Normalization of the ‘Mini-Three-Links’ to coordinate the promotion of the normalization of the “Mini-Three-Links” in Kinmen and Matsu as well as the opening–up measures—including the expansion of special direct cross-strait cargo transportation links in Penghu and the opening up of tourism in Penghu. In this regard, related policy adjustment measures were completed and put into practice before September 30 this year. After the legal process has been completed, the regularized “Mini-Three-Links” in Penghu are scheduled to be implemented from mid-October 2008.
3. Expanding cross-strait charter flight operations and smoothly implementing Mainland tourist visits to Taiwan
On the basis of the groundwork laid by the former DPP administration, the new government has been promoting the expansion of cross-strait charter flights and the opening up of tourism in Taiwan for Mainland tourists. According to the two agreements negotiated and signed this June between the SEF and the ARATS, cross-strait weekend charter flights and the opening up of tourism in Taiwan for Mainland tourists were implemented on July 4 and 18, respectively (as of September 29, air carriers from both sides of the Taiwan Strait operated a total of 468 flights, carrying a total of more than 181,000 passengers). After resolving related issues, the government has been promoting the visit to Taiwan by Mainland tourists. Although the number of Mainland tourist arrivals in Taiwan in the initial phase has fallen short of expectations, the number of tourist visits is anticipated to gradually increase once the tourism issues have returned to the market mechanism.
4. Easing restrictions on Mainland-bound exchange visits by county magistrates and city mayors
In order to pragmatically respond to the demands of local governments and strengthen cross-strait exchanges on the local level, the Executive Yuan on July 3 this year approved the Program on Relaxing the Visit to the Mainland Area by City Mayors and County Magistrates, thereby resolving a long-brewing issue. However, in response to public opinion and concerns shown by the media, the government has also designed a "transparent mechanism" to serve as part of the opening-up measures. It is hoped that on the basis of the political democracy that is subject to public oversight, the good effects of such exchange visits can be maximized.
5. Allowing mainland Chinese media organizations to station reporters in Taiwan
The media professionalism of mainland Chinese reporters has often been suppressed by political considerations due to the lack of press freedom there. In order to guide the Mainland towards greater freedom of the press, the new government has, since its assumption of office, announced that it would again permit the Xinhua News Agency and the People's Daily to station reporters in Taiwan (Note: Currently the Xinhua News Agency, the People's Daily, China National Radio, China Central Television, and China News Service have received permission to station reporters in Taiwan on a long-term basis). At the same time, the new government also agreed to extend the period that Mainland reporters may stay in Taiwan to three months, with one three-month extension allowed if needed. The government also simultaneously allowed five Mainland local media organizations to apply for permission to station reporters in Taiwan.
6. Expanding cross-strait economic and trade exchanges in an orderly manner
In order to implement its policy ideas of "richly cultivating Taiwan while linking up with the world," the government has successfully carried out several relaxation measures—including allowing the renminbi-NT dollar conversion business to be implemented in Taiwan, a “Plan to Ease the Ceiling on Mainland-bound Capital Investment and Simplify Investment Review Procedures,” and the Program on Relaxing Restrictions on Public Listing in Taiwan by Overseas Enterprises, and Appropriately Allowing Mainland Capital to Invest in Taiwan's Stock Market. The government's promotion of relaxation measures concerning cross-strait economic and trade exchanges is aimed at linking Taiwan’s economic development with that of the international community at the earliest possible time. This will not only provide enterprises with more room for investment decision-making and commercial operations, but will also create an infrastructure environment for consolidating Taiwan's economic strength.
IV. Current Major Tasks
Over a long period, the public has presented a variety of comments and suggestions on cross-strait interactions, to which the government has paid great attention. On the issues of deep concern to the public, the government will continue to enhance and consolidate social consensus and solicit opinions from all walks of life as a reference in future decision-making and promotion of related work, thereby enhancing the effectiveness of government’s policy implementation and gaining the recognition and support of the people. The following are the current major tasks of cross-strait affairs:
1. Continuing to solidify the foundation for benign cross-strait interactions through institutionalized negotiations
Since the resumption of institutionalized negotiations between the SEF and the ARATS this June, the two sides have actively conducted preparatory work for follow-up negotiations. In the future promotion of institutionalized cross-strait negotiations, the government will adhere to the principles of dealing with easier-to-resolve issues before tackling more difficult ones, and focusing on economic issues before political ones. In this way, the two sides can gradually build up experience and foster mutual trust. Based on stronger mutual trust and the existing negotiation foundations, it is hoped that all issues arising from cross-strait exchanges can be included in the cross-strait negotiation agenda and be resolved by negotiation under the principle of parity through institutionalized channels.
At present, the issues that will be included on the agenda of the second "Chiang-Chen Talks" include those concerning the cargo charter flights, designation of new air routes, expansion of weekend charter flights, direct cross-strait shipping links, joint crime crackdown, cross-strait food safety management, and an emergency reporting mechanism. In the future, the government will take cautious and steady steps to continue, through the SEF, to communicate and negotiate with the other side on issues of mutual concern so as to further consolidate the foundation for benign cross-strait interactions.
2. Strengthening the grasp of information on the cross-strait situation and enhancing incident response capability
Cross-strait developments are affected by a wide range of factors. In order to ensure the proper flexibility and speed in decision making and the ability to respond to various emergencies, the government will continue to closely watch the political, economic, cultural, military, social, diplomatic and Taiwan-related developments in mainland China, as well as follow changes and trends in the international and domestic environments. It will also mobilize ample human and material resources, as well as draw on assistance from scholars and experts, to strengthen the government's grasp of information regarding the development of the cross-strait situation and other information.
3. Increasing mutual understanding between both sides through closer cross-strait cultural and educational exchanges
Cross-strait academic, religious, cultural, athletic, and media exchanges are the most effective channels for building understanding and trust between the two sides. The government has long been integrating private resources to jointly promote and deepen high-quality cross-strait cultural and educational exchanges. Issues concerning recognition of academic diplomas issued by institutions of higher education in the Mainland, allowing Mainland residents to study in Taiwan, and other such issues have recently become topics of public discussion. Since these matters involve issues concerning domestic consensus-building, allocation of overall education resources, examination of professional certifications, and military and public service as well as teaching positions, the government will study and formulate specific feasible measures to deal with these issues under the principle of "merit-based opening and gradual expansion" and proceed in an orderly, gradual and cautious manner.
4. Actively normalizing cross-strait economic and trade relations and relaxing restrictions on economic and trade exchanges
The government will continue to review measures to ease restrictions on items allowed to be invested by Mainland-bound Taiwan businessmen, Mainland-capital investment in Taiwan, and the employment of Mainland business managers and professionals in Taiwan. Through such measures the government hopes to normalize cross-strait economic and trade relations, promote comprehensive economic liberalization and internationalization, and strengthen Taiwan's links with the global market. This will help Taiwan to develop as an operation headquarters for local businesses and an Asia-Pacific operation hub for foreign enterprises, further honing the competitive advantages of Taiwan's economy.
5. Formulating and revising accompanying laws and measures in coordination with cross-strait developments
In order to implement a legal system for cross-strait exchanges, the government will establish legal mechanisms for the reasonable liberalization and effective management of such exchanges. Necessary amendments have been made to articles under the Act Governing Relations Between People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area regarding cross-strait personnel contacts, transportation, and economic, trade, cultural and educational exchanges. The government will also continue to formulate and revise relevant laws and regulations in coordination with cross-strait developments. At the same time, the authorities will strengthen investigation and handling of violations related to exchanges through a sound exchange management mechanism so as to enhance the quality of exchanges and to preserve the order of exchanges.
6. Enhancing explanation of cross-strait policy to win local and overseas support
There has been widespread concern and debate recently over issues such as the coming of pandas from mainland China to Taiwan, the demand of Taiwan businesspeople to serve as members of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, and the Sanlu milk powder contamination incident. These issues involve factors including specialized considerations, legal restrictions, public health and welfare, and other factors. The various responsible authorities will quickly deal with these issues according to their powers and duties. In the future, the government will also carefully listen to the voice of the people and externally explain the policy considerations involved in issues of deep concern to society. In addition, efforts will be made to build domestic consensus and handle related issues in an orderly manner, and to seek understanding and support regarding the government's policy at home and abroad.
In the future, the government will also continue to enhance communication and contacts with congress, the media and persons in various sectors both at home and abroad. Such outreach will include providing information on the cross-strait situation, explaining considerations in formulating policies, and soliciting views on government policy as a reference for policy implementation.
Cross-strait relations are deeply affected by factors in the international community, mainland China and Taiwan. It is therefore important to build consensus within society before any policies to be implemented can be pushed forward without unnecessary obstruction. The government will therefore be even more pragmatic and cautious in the future promotion of cross-strait relations.
Looking ahead, the government will continue to enhance the institutionalized negotiations and interactions between the SEF and the ARATS, strengthen the foundation for cross-strait mutual trust, promote normalized development of cross-strait relations, and maintain the peaceful and stable status quo in the Taiwan Strait. Under the principles of mutual benefit and win-win solutions, the government will also strengthen cross-strait economic and trade exchanges and cooperation, as well as promote direct air and sea transportation links across the Taiwan Strait. In the areas of investment, trade, and finance, the government will continue to plan and promote measures to relax cross-strait economic and trade exchanges with the goal of normalizing such ties in an orderly manner. In addition, legal systems will be reviewed and related regulations will be revised in context of new developments in cross-strait relations so as to create a sound and complete management mechanism, enhance the quality of exchanges, and to preserve the order of exchanges.
In face of a new age and a new environment in which positive developments have taken place in cross-strait relations, the people of Taiwan have good reason to hold cautious and optimistic attitudes toward the future. Although the two sides of the Taiwan Strait will not be able to resolve overnight all of the intertwined problems they face, the government will proactively and steadily foster an environment for cross-strait peace and prosperity. In the future, the government will first build a foundation of consensus domestically, and then it will cautiously promote cross-strait relations under the preconditions of safeguarding Taiwan-centric identity and the interests of the Taiwan people as well as effectively controlling risk. In this way, we are confident that future cross-strait relations will more closely accord with the expectations of various sectors of society and continue to develop on a peaceful and stable path.
1. Our overriding priority is to revive harmonious relations across the Taiwan Strait.
Dialogue and negotiations are indicators of normal development of relations across the Taiwan Strait. Since taking office, the new administration has jettisoned previous patterns of confrontational thinking and behavior in cross-strait relations. We have proactively pushed to revive systematic negotiations, which have been in hiatus over the past decade.
Consequently, the two sides have achieved considerable progress in negotiating a number of important issues and establishing channels of communication, thereby building mutual trust and laying a foundation for constructive interaction. These initiatives, which have garnered the support and affirmation of the majority of our people, are of great significance in reducing the potential for miscalculation by either side, easing long-standing cross-strait tensions, and ensuring a stable and harmonious cross-strait relationship. We regard pursuit of these goals as our top-priority mission and responsibility.
2. Our short-term objective is to develop a cross-strait relationship based on mutual benefit and reciprocity.
Through regular negotiations and dialogue, the two sides will exchange views and reach consensuses on major issues of concern to each side. Through cooperation and complementing each other’s strengths, the two sides can work to resolve problems facing our peoples and realize our respective developmental goals for the immediate future. We shall move forward in a manner that will enable both of our peoples to reap benefits and create a win-win situation based on reciprocity.
3. Our long-term objective is to build a peaceful, stable relationship in an orderly process.
Fostering two-way communication and mutual understanding is the key to advancing cross-strait relations. Doing so, moreover, is conducive to enhancing regional stability while serving the interests of the international community. Recently, leading nations of the world have responded positively and optimistically to the two sides’ negotiations in pursuit of peaceful and orderly interaction.
This administration will push forward systematic cross-strait negotiations with the aim of accumulating experience and fostering mutual trust. Through institution of mechanisms for all manner of exchanges and cooperation, we aim to expedite comprehensive normalization of cross-strait relations. We will work with mainland China to achieve an equilibrium in the advancement of cross-strait interests, reciprocity and co-prosperity so that cross-strait relations can move in the direction of orderly development with healthy interaction, and an environment can be created to nurture peaceful development, freedom of choice, mutual assistance, and mutual respect. The two sides must negotiate with the aim of building a dynamic, peace-and-stability framework to bring about lasting peace and prosperity across the Taiwan Strait.
II. Approaches of this Government
1. “Putting Taiwan first for the benefit of the people” is the guiding principle of our cross-strait policymaking.
In formulating cross-strait policies and arranging a proper sequence of negotiation topics, this government upholds the principle of “putting Taiwan first for the benefit of the people.” We will not overlook the importance of managing potential risks and coping with strategies that might be employed by Beijing. The people of Taiwan therefore need not worry that our sovereignty might be compromised. We insist that promotion of relations across the Taiwan Strait be premised on respect for the decisions of our people and preservation of our sovereignty. Beijing must face this reality and accommodate the operations of Taiwan’s democratic polity.
2. Unnecessary restrictions on cross-strait exchanges should be removed in order to expand opportunities for normal interaction.
Previous governments imposed a number of restrictions to manage cross-strait exchanges. In order to adapt to ever-changing cross-strait conditions, measures concerning cross-strait interaction must be designed so as to facilitate Taiwan’s integration with the international community and enable it to keep in step with developments in the process of globalization. Upon reassessment of prevailing conditions and needs, this administration has adjusted relevant regulations and eased restrictions so as to give Taiwan greater space for free and lively interchange that can more fully tap its potential for development. We will also strive to create a more orderly environment for cross-strait interaction.
3. We will continue to promote systematic negotiations in order to energize the development of cross-strait relations.
Long-term, close exchanges between Taiwan and mainland China on multiple levels have given rise to structural changes in the cross-strait relationship, and have stimulated interaction between, and mutual influence of, the two sides’ cultures, social systems, and lifestyles. By promoting systematic negotiations between the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) chaired by Chiang Pin-kung and its mainland Chinese counterpart headed by Chen Yunlin, the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS), this administration aims to deepen and broaden the scope of cross-strait exchanges. Such development, furthermore, will play an important role in deepening our system’s influence over, and maintaining a harmonious relationship with, mainland China.
III. Anticipated Results of the Second Chiang-Chen Talks
1. We hope to sign agreements that benefit Taiwan and cross-strait relations.
Pragmatic handling of the many issues arising from cross-strait interactions has been a top priority for the previous administrations of different political parties. Confrontational, antagonistic thinking, however, has prevented the two sides from reaching agreements on issues of major concern. In response to the changing cross-strait situation, this administration will give priority to dealing with issues that benefit Taiwan’s development and ease cross-strait relations. Adhering to the principle of dealing with easier-to-resolve issues before tackling more difficult ones, and focusing on economic issues before political ones, we shall pursue negotiations and sign agreements that fully protect the rights and interests of the people of Taiwan.
2. We look forward to resolving issues of concern to diverse parties.
Success in resolving cross-strait issues while protecting our people’s rights and interests requires good communication and joint decision-making. We cannot act alone. Since the two organizations resumed negotiations, the SEF and the ARATS have intensively consulted on and dealt with several cross-strait issues, including the personal safety and rights of people on both sides of the strait; arrangements for SEF-ARATS talks; mainland tour groups’ visits to Taiwan; weekend cross-strait passenger charter flights; contaminated milk powder produced in mainland China, and relief efforts following the Sichuan earthquake.
Additional issues that await systematic negotiation and signing of agreements in order to protect our rights and interests include sea and air transport and postal cooperation (such as expanding the scope of passenger charter flights, with more flights, destinations, and new routes that enhance convenience without endangering national security; and launching cargo charter flights and direct shipping); food safety; combating crime; and developing financial-sector interaction. It is for the purpose of addressing these and other substantive issues that ARATS representatives have been invited to visit Taiwan and consult with the SEF.
3. We hope ARATS representatives will gain an appreciation for Taiwan’s pluralistic, democratic society.
ARATS Chairman Chen Yunlin’s upcoming visit to Taiwan and the agenda for the Chiang-Chen talks have been arranged so as to safeguard Taiwan’s dignity and its people’s rights and interests.
Further, it is anticipated that the arrangements made will give the mainland visitors a full understanding of Taiwan’s free, democratic, pluralistic, and open society, and enable them to experience its people’s warmth, hospitality, and courtesy, which will contribute to mutual understanding between Taiwan and mainland China.
Recently, various individuals and groups have expressed reservation about the timing of Mr. Chen’s visit, and it is possible that protests will be staged by the opposition. This government calls on all people to take a rational, pragmatic view toward the upcoming talks, as protests cannot resolve problems. Only through communication can they be pragmatically resolved.
The resumption of systematic SEF-ARATS talks and negotiations on cross-strait affairs are goals that the previous government worked for. We should therefore all look forward to their realization. It is hoped that as people in Taiwan strive to draw international attention to Taiwan’s democracy and pluralism, they will concretely manifest these in their personal behavior. Only in so doing will we gain the world’s respect.
Mahtani and McLaughlin were on the ground in Hong Kong and provide this history of the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement centered around a cast of core activists, culminating in the 2019 mass protests and Beijing's crackdown.
IOKIBE Kaoru (University of Tokyo) will focus on U.S.-Japan relations in historical and contemporary contexts.
Mahtani and McLaughlin were on the ground in Hong Kong and provide this history of the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement centered around a cast of core activists, culminating in the 2019 mass protests and Beijing's crackdown.