By: Benjamin Lasserre
It has been only two decades since Taiwan has tried its hand at democracy, and recently Taiwanese youths have enacting their rights by taken to the streets calling for the full halt to the China-Taiwan trade agreement process. These protestors decry the pact as an underhanded effort in China’s quest to usurp the tiny island nation. Activist also point to the economic harm the pact with China will have on Taiwanese businesses and laborers. Tensions across the straight are at their most tense in years. On March 18th, feeling that greater efforts had to be made demonstrators invaded the Taiwanese parliament in Taipei. Public sympathy for the protestors has grown across Taiwan. The escalation of the situation has forced the issue front and center onto President Ma’s agenda.
President Ma Ying-Jeou has taken a different stance on china then his recent predecessors. He is proud of his current relationship with mainland China having brokered a staggering 21 cross-strait agreements Flights from China under President Ma went from nonexistence to 118 flights a day between neighboring countries. Along with the opening of air travel Chinese tourism in Taiwan has increased ten-fold. Mr. Ma has interestingly been able to position himself as an admired figure in both Mainland China as well as Taiwan. However, many are skeptical of his rapprochement with China.
On an economic level, the fears the students’ harbor are nothing new in the realm of free-trade agreements. They see the lowering of trade barriers for banking, e-commerce, and healthcare industries as harmful. Bringing increased competition lowering domestic wages, and potentially fewer job opportunities. However, in every trade deal there are winners and losers. Many consumers will see prices falls, and new job opportunities in different sectors will rise from the increased trade. Yet the view that this free-trade pact plays into China’s “One-China” represented by the People’s Republic plan is harder to ignore. The Intertwining of the two economies could force Taiwan to be economically dependent on Mainland China. From that point who knows what will happen to cross-strait relations.
***Before posting this article the students have agreed to end the occupation of the parliament after talks with the speaker.
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Chung, Lawrence. “Taiwan Protestors Agree to End Parliament Occupation after Talks with Speaker.” South China Morning Post [Taipei] 7 Apr. 2014: n. pag. Print.
“Manning the Trade Barriers- Politics in Taiwan.” Economist 29 Mar. 2014: 26-33. Web.