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China-Taiwan

In early 2009, the Ma administration in Taipei and the Chinese government in Beijing began seriously discussing the possibility of signing a free trade agreement between the two. The stakes are quite large and so is the controversy around any such deal. Ever since 1949, when nationalists fled the mainland, China considers Taiwan a breakaway province that should fall under Beijing’s rule. Taiwan, on the other hand, has been trying to build and maintain its autonomy as a sovereign democratic state. Military tensions have surrounded this antagonistic relationship for 60 years, while China has been quite successful in asserting its "one China" policy among the world’s governments and alienating Taiwan diplomatically.

The new urge to sign an FTA comes after the nationalists lost power in Taiwan’s 2008 elections. China is, in fact, Taiwan’s top trading partner. Taiwanese businesses have built up strong investments in the mainland and the island’s political leadership is particularly concerned about losing economic strength in Asia once the China-ASEAN FTA starts coming into force in 2010.

The big question is whether a China-Taiwan FTA would trigger the start of Taiwan’s transition toward effective economic and political control by Beijing ("reunification"). In this regard, people have even been fighting over the possible name of the FTA. Taiwanese opposition forces insist that it should not be called a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, as originally proposed, because that is what China’s FTAs with Macao and Hong Kong are called. (Therefore, calling it a CEPA would insinuate that Taiwan has the same political status as these two special administrative regions of China.)

In June 2010, the governments of China and Taiwan signed an Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) which took effect in September 2010. The two governments intend to complete negotiations under this agreement by 2014. There have been major protests and much criticism of the deal in Taiwan.

last update: May 2012
Photo: WaDaNaBe / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0


Taiwan parliament warns over China trade pact
China may use a trade pact with Taiwan to push for its political goal of reunification, the island’s parliament warned in a report on Wednesday.
PCT pastors oppose ECFA for Aborigines’ and farmers’ sake
Opening the floodgates to Chinese products will lead to mass unemployment among Aborigines and pose great challenges to ordinary Taiwanese farmers as well, say Aborigine pastors in Taiwan.
DPP blasted for twisting president’s statements on ECFA
The Presidential Office accused the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) of twisting President Ma Ying-jeou’s remarks and stressed that the president has never made the statement that lawmakers cannot review the economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) that Taiwan just signed with China.
Lawmakers pessimistic over ECFA review
Taiwan’s opposition party the DPP is demanding that individual clauses of the ECFA be reviewed one by one at committee meetings where lawmakers could revise them.
Cabinet hopes ECFA can be passed by late August
Despite a partisan dispute over procedural issues, the Executive Yuan hopes that the legislature will pass the economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China by late August to facilitate its implementation Jan. 1, 2011, an official said Saturday.
China and Taiwan sign landmark deal
The agreement that negotiators signed in the Chinese city of Chongqing represents the first phase in trade liberalisation rather than a comprehensive free trade agreement. It also has China doing most of the economic opening in the initial round.
S’pore firms jump onto bandwagon ahead of Taiwan-China trade deal
Singaporean firm Oceanus, the world’s leading producer of abalone, is counting on Taiwan’s trade deal with Beijing to expand in China.
An ECFA will destroy middle class: TSU head
"How will Taiwan survive if our export-oriented industries relocate to China and our domestic market-oriented companies are replaced because of competition from Chinese products?" asks the head of Taiwan Solidarity Union.
Taiwan-China: No such thing as a free trade
Economic success has not trickled down to many Taiwanese, and for them the ECFA is an abstract idea of frighteningly radical engagement with China, writes The Economist
Tens of thousands rally in Taiwan against China pact
Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Taipei on Saturday as Taiwan prepares to seal a major trade deal with Beijing that opponents fear is a step towards Chinese control.