Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Mainland policy not to blame

By Li Zhenguang (China Daily) Updated: 2014-12-03 07:41

With only a year and a half to go before the end of Ma's second term, the cross-Straits relationship, however, will have big difficulties in incubating more groundbreaking achievements. Spurred on by its local election boost, the opposition DPP will seek to capitalize on it in the run-up to the leadership election in 2016. To do so, it will probably try to prevent Ma's mainland policies, such as the already signed cross-Straits Service Trade Agreement, from taking effect.

The KMT's recent defeat undoubtedly adds uncertainty to cross-Straits ties, but it should be borne in mind that it was Ma's policies at the expense of some Pan-Blue voters' welfare, instead of his mainland policies that have led to the KMT's poor performance in the local elections.

The peaceful development of the cross-Straits relations largely lies in the 1992 Consensus, which has long been favored by the KMT yet ignored by the DPP. The consensus refers to an informal agreement, reached orally between Taiwan and the mainland in November 1992, which states both sides adhere to the one-China principle.

In 2012, the mainland and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region accounted for 40 percent of the total value of off-island trade. And the mainland is now the largest market for Taiwan's agricultural products, thanks to the implementation of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement.

In addition, people-to-people exchanges across the Straits have also boosted the local tourism industry on the island. This year, there had been 10 million visits to the island from the mainland as of Nov 6.

The prevalence of regional economic integration in the Asia-Pacific region requires the good momentum in cross-Straits cooperation to continue. The ongoing pursuit of free trade agreements, such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and the Free Trade Agreement of the Asia-Pacific proposed by Beijing at November's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting, will surely provide more impetus to deepen cooperation.

The local elections show voters want better welfare and a peaceful environment irrespective of which party is in office. To deliver these requires stable and smooth cross-Straits exchanges, and that means abiding by the 1992 Consensus is essential, regardless of any other issues involved in the elections.

The author is a professor with the Institute of Taiwan Studies of Beijing Union University.

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