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A Policy Change: Taiwan Tries to Enter Mainland China from the World?

icon2015/12/22
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A Commentary
 
A Policy Change: Taiwan Tries to Enter Mainland China from the World?
 
Source: United Daily News
December 22, 2015
 
In 2015, the number of visitors to Taiwan topped 10 million for the first time and there are currently 158 countries and regions that give Republic of China passport holders visa-free or landing visa privileges. All of these achievements derive from the Ma administration’s efforts to help Taiwan participate in the globalization process and can be seen as peace dividends of its cross-Strait policy.
 
Helping Taiwan enter the world market from the Mainland has been the Ma administration’s policy on globalization. Since the development of cross-Strait relations are a necessity for globalization, maintaining good ties with Mainland China should be seen as a part of the process and a condition for Taiwan to become further globalized.
 
Some people in Taiwan claim that the cross-Strait policy of the Ma administration is “tilting to [Mainland] China and selling out Taiwan.” However, one should evaluate the Ma administration’s cross-Strait policy from a global perspective.
 
Over the past seven years, it would be wrong to claim that Taiwan has harvested nothing from its policy of entering the world from the Mainland. Political circles in Japan have praised the past seven years under the Ma administration as the best time for Taiwan-Japanese relations in the past decades. Likewise, the US government has also praised the last seven years under the Ma administration as the best time for Taiwan-US relations in the past decades, not to mention the massive amount of US arms sales to Taiwan during these years. Even the Beijing authorities publicly called cross-Strait relations the best in the past sixty years on several occasions. Furthermore, both sides of the Strait have already concluded 23 agreements, an unprecedented number, while ECFA (Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement) follow-up agreements are a step away from completion. One should not forget the two FTAs signed between Taiwan and New Zealand and Singapore, respectively. The “Special Statute on Free Economic Pilot Zones” was still lying in the Legislative Yuan.
 
The Ma administration’s achievements over the past seven years listed above, like its policy to attract tourists to Taiwan and seek visa-free or landing visa privileges for Taiwanese people, are building blocks on Taiwan’s move “to enter the world from the Mainland.” The motivation is not only concern for cross-Strait relations but also the vision of Taiwan’s further global configuration.  
 
Unfortunately, in Taiwan, cross-Strait relations are an issue mired in populism in which no reasonable conversations can take place. Most people in Taiwan are apathetic about any issues related to globalization, such as the Mainland China-Korean FTA, not to mention Taiwanese people’s lack of interest in the TPP and the RCEP. There will be no solution to Taiwan’s current predicament if Taiwanese people choose not to view cross-Strait relations from a global perspective. 
 
Taiwan cannot bypass either the world or the Mainland. When facing the upcoming Presidential and Legislative elections in 2016, Taiwanese people, of course, will have an opportunity to try out Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) initiative of “entering ‘[Mainland] China’ from the world” if they do not buy President Ma’s current policy of “entering the world from ‘[Mainland] China.’” 
 
But no matter how Tsai hedges the “China” issue during the Presidential campaign, her efforts will eventually be in vain. Is it possible for Tsai to say “there is no ‘China’ in my world?”
 

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