How ironic, as investors ignore CSB's admonitions
January 5, 2007 8:29am CST
My take: It took a meeting between the C.C.P and KMT, promoting cross-straits trade, to boost the confidence of Taiwanese investors to invest in their own stock market. Sounds like the Taiwanese investors don't care about CSB's admonition against Beijing's incentives, and decided to invest anyway. Can it get more ironic? Beijing offering more incentives to Taiwan 2006/4/20 China Post The four proposals raised by Chinese President ^^ on Sunday suggested a distinct shift in Beijing's policy toward Taiwan, a change that may boost China's attraction for this island and prevent it from drifting further away. Hu's new policy may also help in his effort to talk George W. Bush into adopting a firmer stance on President Chen Shui-bian as he meets with the U.S. leader tomorrow in Washington. Hu made his remarks on Taiwan during a meeting with Lien Chan, the former chairman of the main opposition Kuomintang (KMT), and some 150 fellow Taiwanese visitors, including business leaders, politicians and scholars. They had just attended a two-day forum there, which was jointly sponsored by China's ruling Chinese Communist Party and the KMT with the purpose of promoting cross-strait economic exchanges. Hu brought up before his Taiwan guests his concern about the independence issue. He attacked the Taiwan independence movement branding it as the biggest threat to peace in cross-strait relations. Thus, he said this political movement must be opposed and curbed. Fortunately, the weapons to be used for that purpose are not missiles, at least for now. They're economic lures. At the end of the joint KMT-CCP economic forum, Beijing announced a wide range of preferential trade measures for Taiwan businesses in areas such as fruit, vegetables and fishery products. They also include opening its medical-care market to Taiwan doctors and recognizing diplomas issued by local universities. Another important favorable measure adopted by Beijing is one permitting mainland residents to travel to Taiwan as tourists, an opening policy that may bring an estimated NT$20 billion a year in earnings for hotels, restaurants, travel agencies and other tourist related businesses. By providing these economic incentives, plus a similar preferential package introduced in the middle of last year, Beijing apparently hoped to achieve two major policy goals. One is to boost the mainland's magnet for Taiwan businesses and job seekers. The other is to undermine the support base of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). If these two goals can be attained, Beijing believes, it would help reverse a worrisome trend of Taiwan moving away from China. Also worthy of note is that Hu didn't reiterate an established Beijing line on Taiwan in his speech: calling for "peaceful unification" of this island with the Chinese mainland. This omission was meaningful as it can suggest that Beijing's current Taiwan policy is focused mainly on curbing independence and that unification is not an issue of urgency for it. Or it can be said that Beijing now prefers more for Taiwan to maintain its status quo. If that is the case, it should help Beijing bolster its popularity among local citizens, as the vast majority of the people on this island favor preserving their freedoms and democratic system. Hu also proposed for the resumption of talks on the basis of equality. Dialogue and consultation, he said, should be held to resolve differences that have long been existent between the two sides and discuss issues of mutual concern. This proposal surely is positive. But the question is that Hu still sticks with Beijing's longtime position that Taipei must accept a 1992 cross-strait consensus before any talks can be restarted. This agreement contains a "one China" principle, a concept which has been consistently rejected by President Chen and his pro-independence party in the past. Chen and his fellow party politicians have shown no sign of changing that stance. In fact, they have taken Beijing's latest peace overtures and its newly granted preferential treatment totally negatively, instead of seeing them as an opportunity for Taiwan to improve relations with a powerful neighbor and take advantage of its new market-opening steps. Senior administration officials and party politicians from the president down all were negative in their response to Beijing's offers. They attacked them as "sugar-coated" schemes "harboring evil intentions" and urged the public not to be deceived. But investors didn't buy it. They rushed to purchase shares when the stock market reopened on Monday, driving the composite index past the 7,000-point mark. The DPP rulers, when they used abusive words against Lien of the KMT for leading the delegation to the Beijing forum, also failed to note that his mission included dozens of willing entrepreneurs from Taiwan's big corporations whose combined revenues account for nearly half of its GDP. Hu's new Taiwan policy of not wanting to push for unification and offering to carry out talks for peaceful development across the strait should resonate well with Washington, as the U.S. government as a basic position opposes any moves by either side of the Taiwan Strait to change the status quo. And it always encourages the two sides to hold talks as a way to reduce tensions in the strait. So the Beijing leader could have a better chance this time of persuading President Bush into adopting a firmer stance against Chen taking moves to pursue formal independence during his remaining two years in office. Chen infuriated both Beijing and Washington by abruptly announcing his plan early this year to abolish a 15-year-old advisory council that aims to promote eventual unification with the Chinese mainland.