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Commercial Times: Looking forward to cross-strait ties in 2015

Zhang Zhijun, head of China's Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO), has published an address in which he emphasized "stability," "development" and "benefits for the people" as the key elements driving cross-Taiwan Strait relations in 2015. The remarks indicate that in the new year, Beijing will continue to move forward exchanges and cooperation with "all sectors" in Taiwan on the basis of the 1992 consensus between the two governments -- that there is only one China, the meaning of which both sides can interpret as they please. In 2014, negotiations on follow-up agreements to the Taiwan-China Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement were stalled in the wake of the Sunflower Movement in March. The Kuomintang's crushing defeat in the Nov. 29 local government elections has significantly increased the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party's chances of winning the 2016 presidency, adding uncertainty to relations between Taipei and Beijing. At a time when cross-strait trade pacts have been brought to a standstill, the two sides should focus on strengthening communication, enhancing mutual understanding and narrowing the psychological distance between the people on both sides. As proposed by TAO deputy chief Gong Qinggai during a trip to Taiwan last month, "people at grassroots levels, small- and medium-sized businesses and young people" should be allowed to share more substantial benefits from cross-strait trade. After the pilot free trade zone in Shanghai, the Chinese government has decided to add three more free trade zones in Tianjin, Guangdong and Fujian, which are likely to become important platforms for cross-strait economic cooperation. A possible model is for China to liberalize cross-border yuan business and e-commerce operations in the zones or open some of those businesses to Taiwan to attract investors from across the strait and encourage entrepreneurship among Taiwanese youths. In Taiwan, local government chiefs cannot ignore the economic benefits of tapping the Chinese market and opening up to Chinese tourists, whether they accept the 1992 consensus or not. In promoting economic cooperation with Taiwan, China will also find it difficult to avoid contact with local government chiefs from the DPP. This shows that there is still great potential for city-to-city exchanges in areas such as economics and trade, culture, and agriculture between the two sides. (Editorial abstract -- Jan. 1, 2015) (By Y.F. Low)

Updated : 2021-09-24 02:55 GMT+08:00