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China-Taiwan

In early 2009, the Ma administration in Taipei and the Chinese government in Beijing began seriously discussing the possibility of signing a free trade agreement between the two. The stakes are quite large and so is the controversy around any such deal. Ever since 1949, when nationalists fled the mainland, China considers Taiwan a breakaway province that should fall under Beijing’s rule. Taiwan, on the other hand, has been trying to build and maintain its autonomy as a sovereign democratic state. Military tensions have surrounded this antagonistic relationship for 60 years, while China has been quite successful in asserting its "one China" policy among the world’s governments and alienating Taiwan diplomatically.

The new urge to sign an FTA comes after the nationalists lost power in Taiwan’s 2008 elections. China is, in fact, Taiwan’s top trading partner. Taiwanese businesses have built up strong investments in the mainland and the island’s political leadership is particularly concerned about losing economic strength in Asia once the China-ASEAN FTA starts coming into force in 2010.

The big question is whether a China-Taiwan FTA would trigger the start of Taiwan’s transition toward effective economic and political control by Beijing ("reunification"). In this regard, people have even been fighting over the possible name of the FTA. Taiwanese opposition forces insist that it should not be called a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, as originally proposed, because that is what China’s FTAs with Macao and Hong Kong are called. (Therefore, calling it a CEPA would insinuate that Taiwan has the same political status as these two special administrative regions of China.)

In June 2010, the governments of China and Taiwan signed an Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) which took effect in September 2010. The two governments intend to complete negotiations under this agreement by 2014. There have been major protests and much criticism of the deal in Taiwan.

last update: May 2012


Say no to trade pacts with China: civic groups
Civic groups protested outside the Executive Yuan on Monday, calling on the new government to reject any notions of signing trade in goods and services agreements with mainland China.
Ma Ying-jeou’s legendary (Trade) millions
Things have been especially bad since the signing of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), invariably lauded as a “landmark trade agreement” in the international media.
Further delays in Taiwan-China trade deal could affect Taiwan’s future: Officials
Progress of China’s preferential trade deal with Taiwan has been held up after its service trade pact was stalled by the island’s divided parliament. Officials warn that further delays could have a devastating effect on Taiwan’s economic future.
The burden of Taiwan’s stalled trade deal with China
Like its Asian neighbors, Taiwan has been struggling with moribund exports as China’s economic growth slows and a pickup in the U.S. loses some steam.
China, Taiwan restart trade treaty talks
Taiwan and China have restarted talks on adding further goods tariff reductions to their economic cooperation framework agreement, despite the long-running dispute over the cross-strait agreement for trade in services that was signed in June last year.
Taiwan, China reopen free trade talks amid protest
Taiwan and China resumed talks Wednesday at an undisclosed location on a goods free trade agreement, sparking a protest against secrecy by demonstrators suspicious of closer ties with Beijing.
Taiwan, Beijing to resume free-trade pact talks after long delay due to fierce protests
Talks on a free trade agreement in goods will reopen on Wednesday after being delayed for about five months, including massive protests in Taipei and a weeks-long blockade of parliament by students
Taiwan, China to restart talks on goods free-trade agreement
Representatives from China and Taiwan have reached an agreement to restart formal negotiations on a free-trade pact that would eliminate tax on the vast majority of goods flowing between the two, Taiwan officials said Tuesday.
Cross-Straits trade agreements stall
Lawmakers in Taiwan Monday confirmed that negotiations on a series of economic measures between the island and the Chinese mainland have halted in the wake of disruptive protests in Taipei in March.
Taiwan, China to pursue free trade despite pact delays: Siew
Taiwan and China will continue to pursue more liberalized bilateral trade, despite delays in the progress of two trade pacts with China, Taiwan’s former vice president Vincent Siew said on Wednesday.