Poor mainland ties will hurt Taiwan

2016-05-20 01:51:18 GMT2016-05-20 09:51:18(Beijing Time) Global Times

Island enjoys $70b annual trade surplus, only $30b edge globally

A troubled Taiwan economy cannot afford the possible souring of cross-Straits relations, analysts said ahead of Friday's inauguration of pro-independence Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen.

"If Tsai failed to maintain stable relations with the mainland, it would add more difficulties to Taiwan's future economic development," Chen I-hsin, a political science professor at Taiwan's Tamkang University, told the Global Times.

According to Taiwan's "Ministry of Finance," Taiwan exports dropped in April for the 15th straight month, a streak even longer than the one during the global financial crisis in 2008 and 2009, Taipei-based Central News Agency (CNA) reported earlier this month.

On Wednesday, outgoing Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou underscored the role of the mainland market in Taiwan's export-oriented economy, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Over the past eight years, Taiwan has seen an average annual surplus of about $70 billion in trade with the mainland, compared with its annual trade surplus of $30 billion globally, Ma noted.

"Chances are that Tsai's economic policies, such as shifting its focus to Southeast Asian countries, would not pay off if she fails to properly handle cross-Straits relations," as Taiwan's economy relies on the mainland's economic support, Ni Yongjie, vice director of the Shanghai Institute for Taiwan Studies, told the Global Times.

Taiwan could find vast space and opportunities for development by joining the Belt and Road initiative, Ni said, noting that "the close cooperation between the mainland and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations under the initiative would squeeze Taiwan's development space in this region."

On Thursday, Kuomintang Party leader Hung Hsiu-chu said she hopes the new Taiwan government will handle cross-Straits relations "carefully and seriously" for the sake of the Taiwan people, CNA reported.

In a commentary published Wednesday in The Diplomat magazine, it was also pointed out that Tsai's plans to "kick-start a stagnant economy" cannot "easily offset the negative impact should economic ties with the Chinese mainland sour as a result of a deteriorating political environment."

Tsai's policies to promote Taiwan's "foreign relations" with countries like the US and Japan, including joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, would "irritate" the mainland and "affect the development of cross-Straits relations," Ni said.

The 1992 Consensus endorsing the one-China principle has been the foundation for the peaceful development of cross-Straits ties since 2008 and is an important part of the cross-Straits status quo, Ma Xiaoguang, spokesperson for the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, stressed at a press conference last week.

During the annual session of the National People's Congress in March, President Xi Jinping said only by accepting the 1992 Consensus and recognizing its core implications can the two sides have a common political foundation and maintain good interactions.

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