Op-Ed Contributors

Cementing cross-Straits ties

By Zhu Songling (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-07-01 07:52
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Trade pact between Beijing and Taipei is good for the island'seconomic growth and carries much political weight

Beijing and Taipei signed the much-awaited Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) in Chongqing Tuesday, a move that reflected the common aspirations of compatriots on both sides and hailed by many as a landmark development in cross-Straits relations.

Chen Yunlin, president of the mainland-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) and his Taiwan counterpart, Chiang Pin-kung, chairman of the Taiwan-based Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), inked the historic trade pact aimed at enhancing cross-Straits economic ties and further easing political tensions.

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First, the trade pact signals a fresh beginning on the part of both sides to establish an economic cooperation mechanism in line with cross-Straits characteristics.

Ever since the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress issued the "Message to Compatriots in Taiwan" in January 1979, cross-Straits trade volume has been on the up.

For a long time, however, the one-way and unbalanced trade flow seriously restrained economic vitality on both sides and hindered the further structural upgradation and integration of the Taiwan economy with the mainland.

Therefore, boosting two-way exchanges and normalizing cross-Straits trade ties became a common rallying point for both sides.

Political parties and far-sighted leaders on both sides of the Taiwan Straits have long since realized the importance of normalizing cross-Straits trade.

In fact, the press communiqu released by President Hu Jintao and the then KMT Chairman Lien Chan on April 29, 2005 maintained that "the two parties are to promote the unfolding of all-round cross-Straits economic exchanges and cooperation, establish close economic and trade ties and proceed to build a stable economic cooperation mechanism".

In his speech commemorating the 30th anniversary of the announcement of the Message to Compatriots in Taiwan, Hu made clear that both sides could negotiate a comprehensive economic cooperation agreement and establish an economic cooperation mechanism consistent with the features of cross-Straits relations.

Second, the deal fully underscores Beijing's good intention to engage in peaceful development.

The mainland will cut import tariffs on items with a total export value of $13.84 billion and Taiwan will reduce them for items worth $2.9 billion. The latter will enjoy transfer of profits of nearly $11 billion from the tariff concession. The pact has granted 17 sensitive and vulnerable industries in Taiwan an adaptation period over 10 years.

Moreover, the preface of the document also articulates that both sides agree to establish a cooperation mechanism conducive to cross-Straits prosperity and development according to the basic principles of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

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