Monday, December 20, 2010

The Sixth Cross-Strait Summit: What to Look for?

l  The new round of cross-Strait talks between China's ARATS and Taiwan's SEF is set to take place in Taipei during December 20-22. This is the sixth ARATS-SEF summit since President Ma Ying-jeou took over in May 2008.

l  Though most were disappointed that the proposed investment protection agreement will not be signed as originally planned, it seems to be a good idea---particularly from Taiwan's domestic political perspective---for the proposed pact to be shelved aside until terms acceptable to both sides can be worked out.

l  The two semiofficial government agencies are, however, expected to ink a medical and health cooperation agreement during the two-day meeting. On the other hand, though the two sides will continue negotiations, there is no guarantee that differences over the investment protection pact will be resolved by the next ARATS-SEF summit in mid-2011, which will likely occasion the start of the 2012 presidential campaign in Taiwan.

l  Since this will be the first cross-Strait summit that is “thin on substance,” the opposition DPP does not plan to organize any mass demonstration or street protest. Only a few pro-independence groups plan to demonstrate outside of Taipei's Grand Hotel, where Chen and the ARATS delegation are staying. 

l  The DPP is also in the midst of re-formulating its China policy to become more moderate and appealing to Taiwan’s middle-of-the-road voters. Another violent clash with the police, as was the case in November 2008 when Chen visited Taipei for the first time, will likely hurt the party's image and undermine public confidence in its abilities to deal with China if returned to power.

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