• Fri
  • Dec 19, 2014
  • Updated: 7:12am

Anti-trade pact stand-off will damage Taiwan's relations with mainland China, analysts warn

Student protest over trade pact and their occupation of parliament may cause Beijing to rethink their policy towards island, analysts say

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 March, 2014, 9:41am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 March, 2014, 4:51am

The stand-off in Taiwan over a trade pact with mainland China will jeopardise improving cross-straits relations and cast a shadow over the prospects for long-anticipated political talks between leaders in Taipei and Beijing, according to analysts.

The trade pact was originally an economic sweetener offered by Beijing to help engage with Taiwan, but if the move backfires the central government may review its strategy, they said.

“The demonstrations against the service trade pact will inevitably overshadow co-operation in the future and make any highly-anticipated political talks more remote than previously thought,” said Sun Li, a professor at Xiamen University’s Institute of Taiwan Studies.

...the radical action and the violence inflicted have not only done damage to island’s image as an increasingly mature democracy, but also jeopardised something far more critical, future co-operation with the mainland
Xu Xue, Xiamen University’s Institute of Taiwan Studies

Sun said Beijing had tried hard and made concessions to Taiwan to help the island’s economy, but the government was not winning the hearts and minds of some Taiwanese.

Xu Xue, also from Xiamen University’s Institute of Taiwan Studies, said the protests had dealt a serious blow to efforts to thaw ties between the two former adversaries.

“Seeking to block approval of this agreement, the radical action and the violence inflicted have not only done damage to island’s image as an increasingly mature democracy, but also jeopardised something far more critical, future co-operation with the mainland,” said Xue.

Lin Wen-cheng, director of the Sun Yat-sen University’s Institute of Mainland China Studies in Taiwan, said Beijing’s tactics towards the island had backfired and it needed to review its policy.

Lin also said Ma was under pressure to withdraw the pact his government signed with Beijing, a move likely to further strain relations with the central government.

A further concern was that any moves towards high-level political dialogue between Beijing and Taipei are likely to be even more controversial in Taiwan than any business and trade pacts, said Lin.

Jean-Pierre Cabestan, head of the political science department at Hong Kong Baptist University, said he believed the mainland was highly concerned about the protests in Taiwan.

“What Beijing is afraid to see is their dialogue with the governing Kuomintang in Taiwan, which has so far been very successful, is reaching it’s limit,” Cabestan said.

Xu at Xiamen University’s Institute of Taiwan Studies said Beijing would adopt a wait-and-see approach to see if the protests had created irreparable damage to relations with the mainland.

Political ties have improved markedly since President Ma Ying-jeou came to power pledging to thaw relations with Beijing.

But the confrontation does appear to represent growing anxiety among some Taiwanese over the steadily improving political ties with the mainland, said Xu.

Additional reporting by Andrea Chen



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I have been taking care of Taiwan market for around ten years in academic publishing sector. What I am seeing is continuous poor economic performance and ever tightening budget. Comparing to mainland and Hong Kong, Taiwan is losing its edge rapidly and becoming less and less prosperous region in Greater China. And I cannot see hope it will bounce back after they refused to have more economic integration with mainland. The people there just don't like competition and paranoid of everything from China. Maybe they even think the money earned from mainland is dirty; Taiwanese depise it.
hard times !
of course the Pact is a sweetener offered by Beijing to Taipei, yet it will finally turn out to be a poison wrapped up by sweet coat only ! Just like the 'Helen of Troy''s wooden horse offered by the 'retreating' Greek soliders to the Trojans who naively opened their city gate and brought in the giant wooden horse where the soldiers hid inside finally sneaked out and opened the city gate and let the Greek soldiers in to kill all the Trojans in Troy ! Once th Pact is put into practice, Mainland China's advertising and publishing industries (which are both big corporations with rich resources) would land on Taiwan and infiltrate the Island by instilling Mainland's thoughts---a thought control plus political infilitration---the end of Taiwan government can be predicted as what Global Time once said-----taking Taiwan without having to fire a single shot with the Pact !
Hong Kong has opened its doors to China for many years, and yet people here are still able to think on their own. So thanks for your apocalyptic forecast, but no thanks...
"Free trade" agreements are always a bad deal for ordinary citizens. I'm an American--iI know whereof I speak. These deals are negotiated and manipulated by elites. The profits do not trickle down. At this point, the KMT=the CCP, and isn't that a fine historical irony?
result of 10 plus years of pro-independence leaning administration from Lee TH to A Bian!!! those idiotic students just refuse to understand that economic benefits integration with the mainland brings..
What's wrong with that?
I think most rational people are biding their time waiting for China to self-destruct so that they can have relations with a normal country that hopefully will be the successor.
Yeah, look how well that one way street is working out....Oh and please no BS about your precious polluted water.
Perhaps many SCMP readers are biding their time to see you self-destruct so that they can read normal, constructive but not hateful opinions like yours.
Any chaos on the mainland would mean disaster for Taiwan.. the leadership would divert attention by bringing up nationalism.. and u know what that means..
What do economics illiterates know? Not a lot other than anecdotes, half-truths and lies fed them by the highly partisan "free" media. I am afraid what you think you know won't pass muster in a freshman economics class.



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