Breaking the China-Taiwan Impasse

By Donald S. Zagoria; Chris Fugarino | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 9

Growing Cross-Strait Cooperation Despite Political Impasse

Ralph N. Clough

The Taiwan Strait has been calm in recent months. Even though the Taipei-Beijing interaction through the quasi-official Straits Exchange Foundation-Association for Relations across the Taiwan Strait (SEF-ARATS) channel, which the People's Republic of China (PRC) suspended in July 1999 after Lee Teng-hui characterized cross-strait relations as “state-to-state, ” has not been restored, both governments have pursued moderate policies toward the other. The PRC has turned away from harsh rhetoric and military threats in favor of a united-front policy, using political and economic means to influence the people of Taiwan. Chen Shui-bian has sought to reassure PRC leaders that he will avoid actions that would be interpreted in Beijing as moves toward independence for Taiwan. Both governments are making preparations for membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO), which will require increased economic interaction between the two sides of the strait.

The political impasse continues. The PRC has refused to negotiate with the Chen Shui-bian administration unless Chen accepts the PRC definition of the one-China principle, which Chen has refused to do. Beijing is probably awaiting the results of the December 2001 elections for the Legislative Yuan and for mayors and county magistrates before considering whether any softening of its hard line toward Chen is called for. The entry of both parties into the WTO early in 2002 will increase pressures for some form of cross-strait talks between representatives of the two governments.

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