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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


TRADE PACT SIEGE: Survey shows public favors students’ demands
About 80 percent of Taiwnese people polled this week express support for the demands made by students protesting against the controversial cross-strait services trade agreement.
Taiwan’s sunflower protests explained
This initial act of civil disobedience has blossomed into a wider political movement.
Petition to President of Taiwan
An unjust and undemocratic agreement between Taiwan and China is now in progress. This agreement will significantly threaten Taiwan’s economy, political and economic autonomy, democracy and people’s right.
Hundreds of students occupy Taiwan’s Legislature to protest China pact
Hundreds of students remained barricaded in Taiwan’s Legislature early Wednesday in protest of the ruling party’s push for a trade pact with China, which demonstrators claim will hurt the island.
Taiwan Parliament occupied by protesters for 1st time in history
Protesters and civic groups have stormed into the Taiwanese Parliament after hearing the ruling KMT ram through the agreement on free trade in services with China.
Taiwan’s services agreement with China triggers concerns
In recent weeks, opposition against the agreement has been getting stronger and louder in Taiwan.
ECFA beneficial to Taiwan’s pursuit of future FTAs: WTO
The Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), signed between Taiwan and China on June 29, 2010, helps Taiwan participate in regional economic integration, according to a book published by the World Trade Organization (WTO) in June of this year.
Taipei, Beijing ink services trade pact
Taiwan and mainland China concluded the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement June 21 in Shanghai, ushering in a new era of bilateral business ties and strengthening the island’s bid for greater regional economic integration.
Minor downsize to result from service trade deal: SEF
China will open its e-commerce, cultural and creative industries, transportation, finance, medical care, telecommunications, and travel sectors to Taiwan under the proposed deal set to be signed on June 21 during the next round of cross-strait high level talks in Shanghai.
China offers protection to Taiwan investors
China and Taiwan have signed their first investor-protection agreement in the latest sign of the momentum behind President Ma Ying-jeou’s drive to strengthen his country’s relationship with China, its biggest trade partner and frequent political adversary.