Taiwan Wednesday broadly welcomed historic deals with China as a boost for the faltering economy, but some wondered if closer integration would erode the self-ruled island’s autonomy.
By Amber Wang, AFP
agreements Signing deals on trade, transit and tourism will have solid benefits for Taiwan’s economy by improving links with its cross-strait rival and main market, media and analysts said.
But some questioned whether the deals were the first step towards Taiwan becoming a second Hong Kong, which became a Special Administrative Region of China’s post-colonial rule in 1997 and lost aspects of its autonomy.
“Beijing is obviously the big winner from the talks and has Taiwan in its grip,” said Lee Shiao-feng, a political analyst at the National Taipei University of Education.
Heavy-handed security was also criticised as authorities appeared determined to protect Chen Yunlin, the most senior Chinese official to visit here since civil war ended in 1949, from pro-independence activists who roughed up his deputy last month.
The four agreements, potentially worth billions of dollars, introduce direct cargo shipping and postal services, increase passenger flights and shorten existing routes across the Taiwan Strait.
They also pledge cooperation on food security in the wake of several Chinese scandals, and China promised to let more of its citizens visit the island, just 180 kilometres (112 miles) off its eastern coast.
The deals Beijing claims sovereignty over Taiwan, which split from China when the nationalist Kuomintang lost the civil war and fled here.
It has more than 1,000 missiles aimed at the island and has vowed to retake it, by force if necessary, especially if it declares independence.
Chinese envoy Chen, head of China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait, signed the deals with Chiang Pin-kung, his local counterpart as head of the Strait Exchange Foundation.
Their meeting, the second between the two envoys and the first in Taiwan, has sparked widespread criticism and vocal protests that Taipei is making too many concessions to its once sworn enemy in order to win the deals.
“I don’t see the Ma government upholding Taiwan’s sovereignty by banning the national flag during Chen’s visit,” political analyst Lee told AFP.
“Instead it is embracing Beijing’s ‘one China’ stance,” he added, referring to Beijing’s official position that Taiwan is part of China.