TAIWANESE AND MAINLAND CHINESE LEADERS IN HISTORIC TALKSNovember 17, 2015
Last week there was a development whose significance will unfold over the next few years, if not decades, as the leaders of Communist Mainland China, and Taiwan, met for the first time since Chairman Meo's Communists drove Chiang Kai-Shek's Khoumintang forces from the mainland to Taiwan over 60 years ago, in this article shared by Mr. S.:
What's interesting to note here is the approach both countries are taking toward the nearly insoluable political and economic dilemmas that each "China" poses toward the other:
But while bilateral trade, investment and tourism have blossomed – particularly since Ma and his KMT took power in 2008 – there is deep suspicion on both sides and no progress has been made on any sort of political settlement.
Beijing still officially considers Taiwan a renegade province that should be reunified with the mainland. But many Taiwanese see it as independent and are concerned at China’s growing influence.
In order not to offend each other the officials will address to each other as Mr. Xi and Mr. Ma, rather than Mr. President, one Chinese government official has said. According to Mr. Ma this meeting will be promoting peace and probable ways to reduce hostility such as removing Chinese missiles targeted at Taiwan.
The backdrop to these talks is interesting to ponder, for they come at a time when America's position and leadership is being challenged on a multitude of fronts and in a variety of ways. One need only think of the Russian intervention in Syria, and two of its "technological messages," with the Russian blackout of communicationns over the entire country, exposing a key NATO-American technological weakness, and the Russian cruise missile attacks. The latter cannot be pondered too long or hard, for not only were the strikes flawlessely executed, but Russia's message was clear and simple: it can interdict any American-Western move in central Asia. Nor is the hidden message here to be forgotten: imagine the vulnerability of American aircraft carriers, the basis of America's ability to protect the sea lanes and project American power internationally, to such long-range cruise missile strikes by Russian(and Chinese) "carrier killers". In other words, there has been not only a collapse of "unipolarism" in recent months and years, but also a demonstration of the weakness of the American leadership class and its ability to protect its assets and allies...
... like Taiwan.
For that island nation, the pressures, when viewed in this context, to mend fences with Beijing are immense, as are the risks, which are almost equal to the risks of not doing so. And for Beijing, the risks of letting the opportunity slide are also immense, for the only other way to mend the fence is literally to storm it, and while the outcome of any one-on-one confrontation is a foregone conclusion, the mainland Chinese know that it would nonetheless be a bloody and costly affair. A forcibly reintegrated province would be a long-term source of internal instability which Beijing can ill-afford.
A clue to the seriousness of both sides is afforded by the fact that both have been willing to forego political protocols and niceties, and this is a powerful symbolic indicator of what the "two Chinas" may be up to over the long haul: a willingness to table immediate political difficulties for the moment, while intricacies of trade, law, and access to each other's markets(of all kinds), may be on the table. It is this willingness of both sides to table the political question that is therefore a significant development.
So where's the high octane speculation here? How will Taipei and Beijing resolve over half a century of recriminations and animosity? I suspect that both will do so in a typically Chinese way, one in which both sides can win if they play their cards carefully and are not in too much of a hurry to resolve the outstanding political issues, and one of the easiest ways for each to do this will be to make common cause, including the occasional joint communique or position statement, on a variety of geopolitical issues on which both sides can make common cause and show intentional agreement. Think of it, perhaps, as a kind of "honorary" membership for Taiwan in the Shanghai accords-BRICSA bloc. Expect, too, certain "joint projects" to be proposed and embarked upon, including joint military exercises for responding to "regional emergencies," and a major Taiwanese voice in Beijing's "new silk road" project and its efforts to build a parallel financial clearing structure; Taipei's financial prowess and expertise would greatly enhance Beijing's prospects for success, and thus in this one area alone Beiking and Taipei already have an issue ready to hand on which they could make common cause to the mutual benefit of both, provided the will is there to do so.
One thing, however, is certain. The recent talks are not a one-off. They will become more and more frequent, at all levels of Taiwanese-Mainland interaction. And that means, this is one to watch carefully.
See you on the flip side...