On April 9, 2014, President Ma Ying-jeou of the Republic of China spoke to Americans via video-conference to discuss his foreign policy.
The talk seemed to contain some interesting assumptions.
1. Better cross Strait relations will not change the US interest or commitment to Taiwan in the long run. What happens if you convince Washington that cross Strait relations will be resolved peacefully?
2 That Taiwan must continue to strengthen its economic ties across the Strait, and rely on the US for security. In my mind, such a division of labor will not work in long-term.
3. The problems with TISA (the cross Strait agreement on the service industry) are related to education rather than the content of the agreement. This was his effort to address the occupation of the Legislative Yuan by students opposed to greater mainland influence on Taiwan, as well as those who felt the process of reaching agreements across the Strait are undemocratic. Ma’s approach suggests that economic benefits will consistently trump other concerns. Sorry to be cynical, but the last century is filled with people and states deciding to put national pride and identity before standard of living.
4. That cross Strait integration is inevitable. This is much like the argument that globalization is inevitable. I would argue that economic integration waxes and wanes over time.
5. TISA was some sort of litmus test for others (like the US and a possible investment agreement) to decide whether they can negotiate trade or investment deals with Taiwan. Beef and pork as a barrier to trade deals with the US was not mentioned.
6. Economic and cultural agreements can be divorced from political influence or interference. I am not arguing that the PRC is unique, but what large country doesn’t use economic and cultural ties to enhance its political influence?
Just my two cents.