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UPDATED: July 19, 2010 NO. 29 JULY 22, 2010
A Milestone in Cross-Straits Relations
Trade agreement expected to strengthen economic links between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan

FRUITS OF COOPERATION: Visitors show great interest in fruit produced in Taiwan at a cross-Straits agricultural fair held in Zhangzhou, Fujian Province, on November 18, 2009 (ZHANG GUOJUN)

Second, the ECFA will help Taiwan's social reforms. For a long time, due to confrontation between pro- and anti-"Taiwan independence" camps and cross-Straits tension, some urgently needed social development programs have been set aside in Taiwan. Social problems, such as the conflicts between labor and management and the widening gap between the rich and the poor, have yet to be solved. The current Taiwan authorities led by Ma Ying-jeou have tried to improve people's wellbeing by improving cross-Straits relations and solving the unemployment problem, which has created conditions needed for Taiwan to launch a social reform campaign in the future. The improvement of cross-Straits relations is helpful to relegate the debate between pro- and anti-"Taiwan independence" camps to a lower position. Cross-Straits economic and trade cooperation will boost Taiwan's economy. Their developments will enable Taiwan people shift the focus of their attention back to social problems, which will encourage political forces in the island to concentrate on major public concerns and people's livelihood. Thus the society can go through progressive reforms, which will also promote Taiwan's political progress.

Third, the ECFA will reduce Taiwan's reliance on the United States and Japan. Taiwan has been politically and economically dependent on the two countries for a long time. The improvement of cross-Straits relations, enhanced economic cooperation and the realization of "three direct links" of trade, mail, air and shipping services across the Taiwan Straits may lessen Taiwan's reliance on the United States and Japan. The ECFA will bring Taiwan closer to the fast-growing mainland economy, which will facilitate Taiwan's economic growth.

Fourth, the ECFA will provide a more solid basis for the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations. The ECFA is a special arrangement for normalization, institutionalization and liberalization of cross-Straits economic activities against the backdrop of economic globalization and regional economic integration. It creates favorable conditions for greater exchanges and cooperation between the mainland and Taiwan, and offers a great stimulus for both sides to advance from economic to social and political integration, thus giving rise to the prospect of a peaceful resolution of their differences on political issues. The ECFA will focus greater attention on the shores of the mainland and Taiwan to significantly boost the international competitiveness of the Chinese nation and improve the wellbeing of people on both sides of the Taiwan Straits.

Fifth, the ECFA will facilitate the prosperity and stability of East Asia. The Taiwan issue is crucial to security in East Asia. The ECFA forms the foundation for peaceful development of cross-Straits relations. This is beneficial to East Asian prosperity and stability and conforms to the interests of people on both sides of the Straits and the international community. Additionally, increasing cooperation between the two sides, including that in science, technology and energy development, will become a contributing factor in East Asian economic integration. Considering the scale and promising prospects of the mainland economy, the unprecedented economic integration across the Taiwan Straits will inject new vigor into the East Asian economy.


As a framework agreement, the ECFA needs a long process of gradual implementation after its signing. Despite its significance, people shouldn't have too high expectations on its direct economic benefits; much less consider it a panacea to all the economic problems.

Though the document brings long-term benefits, there will also be short-term impacts. It is important both sides define vulnerable industries and people as soon as possible and work now to mitigate any possible damage.

The business opportunities and benefits created by the ECFA will keep Taiwan's public more positive about the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations and deter "Taiwan independence" activities of the Democratic Progressive Party and the Taiwan Solidarity Union, which have organized street demonstrations and taken legislative measures in attempt to block the approval of the ECFA.

Deng Yunguang is a senior research fellow with the Taiwan Studies Society of Fujian Province and Ding Xing is a council member of the Taiwan Studies Society of Xiamen City

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