Taiwan and China to grow closer with Ma's reelection
The reelection of Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou heralds closer ties with China, leaving one less trouble spot in East Asia for the US.
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“China has a strong desire to push Ma to engage in political talks in his second term,” says Nathan Liu, an international relations professor at Ming Chuan University in Taiwan. “But obviously there are about 46 percent who do not endorse Ma’s performance in his first term, and that’s something he needs to take into account.”Skip to next paragraph
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China may seek a formal accord on the two-way negotiations, analyst's say, committing each side to recognizing itself as part of just one China, not separate countries. Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party prefers a framework with more support from Taiwan’s public and international law.
“How can you negotiate with someone else if you don’t know your own name?” asks pro-Tsai voter Ying-chi Da-lai of suburban Taipei. “We don’t want to confuse issues. We’re Taiwan here and it’s China over there.”
Talks and trade
Beijing is unlikely to accept Tsai’s idea as it implies too much Taiwanese autonomy. Under Ma, the two sides may also begin working on a formal peace accord to enshrine a reduction of military tension since 2008. China’s Communist Party is expected to discuss other political issues privately with the Nationalists.
Taiwan officials say they expect to sign an investment deal with China this year and that the two sides will cut thousands of trade tariffs.
The United States congratulated Ma on his reelection within hours. The US supports closer ties between Taiwan and China. A month earlier the US announced Taiwan’s candidacy for visa waivers, a popular move pushed hard by the Ma government, following a chain of high-level visits from Washington.
Those visits were rarer under more China-hostile Taiwanese leaders, such as Chen Shui-bian between 2000 and 2008.
Washington, a fellow democracy and major arms supplier, is Taiwan’s staunchest informal ally but wants to improve relations with China for regional security reasons and the interests of American business.
The United States would worry again if the two sides got too close, extending China’s influence in the world and compromising US economic interests, says Mark Harrison, senior lecturer at the University of Tasmania’s School of Asian Languages and Studies in Australia.
“The US has enough trouble with hotspots all over the world,” Mr. Liu says. “They don’t really need another trouble spot in East Asia.”