Who Will Get Hurt If China Takes This New Slap At Taiwan

by Ralph Jennings / November 1, 2016 / Forbes.com

Taiwan’s opposition party head Hung Hsiu-chu can’t sign major deals while meeting Communist officials in Beijing this week. Her Nationalist Party has lost the presidency in Taiwan, control of parliament and a raft of local elections since 2014. Voters had feared the Nationalist camp’s friendship with China would require both sides to unite someday under one flag, which is Beijing’s goal but wildly unpopular in Taiwan. To sign a deal would make the party look even worse. It might also violate Taiwan laws, which take a cautious approach to engagement with China as a political and military rival of seven decades.

But Hung’s visit to China, her first since becoming Nationalist Party chair in March, may have reached some kind of deal they’re not talking about yet.

On the surface so far, nothing. When Hung met Chinese president Xi Jinping Tuesday, she said she hoped to reach a peace agreement with China at a later day. People in China and Taiwan want that peace, Xi said in the meeting. He reiterated that both sides must regard each other as part of “China” to hold any talks.

Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party under President Tsai Ing-wen disputes the one-China idea, preferring more autonomy. That difference has chilled Taiwan-China relations after a warm spell under the Nationalists from 2008 through May this year.

Leaders in Beijing, who also have reached out to Taiwanese cities and counties run by Nationalist Party local officials, are expected however to try offering Taiwan economic support to parts of the island backed by the politicians who it likes. In theory, local governments led by pro-Beijing officials could receive more food buyers, tour groups and university students from China, analysts say. Others would be denied that economic boost.

Tourism from China has fallen 38% from September 2015 to September 2016, possibly a result of Beijing discouraging travel agents from sending people to the island 160 km (99 miles) away. Economic goodies from China were popular in Taiwan under most of the 2008-2016 Nationalist administration.

“I don’t think (Hung’s visit) will leave a huge impact, but it serves notice that something good will come to those who support peace across the Strait,” says Raymond Wu, managing director of political risk consultancy e-telligence in Taipei. Read more….

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