China to further open up to Taiwan under Xi: scholars


TAIPEI–China under the helm of its next-generation leaders headed by Xi Jinping will put economic issues before political ones and further open the country to Taiwan, scholars said yesterday in Taipei.

Chow Shih-hsiung, a professor of China and Asia-Pacific studies at National Sun Yat-Sen University, said he expected Xi will prioritize economic issues and expand policies favoring Taiwan such as the preferential economic treatment offered by the bilateral Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA).

Xi, who currently serves as China’s vice president, is tapped to lead the country after the handover of power set to take place starting this fall.

The arguments are based on the grounds that as Taiwan and China’s economies become further integrated, the issue of Taiwan’s independence will become less significant, Chow said.

Political issues will likely take a backseat in the near term because neither China nor Taiwan will risk disrupting the peace and stability which has been achieved by rushing into political talks, Chow said.

He was speaking at a seminar on the electoral systems in Hong Kong and Macau and democratic rule.

Chow said he expected Xi will further open up the Chinese market to Taiwan after he takes over the country’s helm given his past efforts to solicit Taiwanese investments in China while serving as Communist Party of China’s secretary in Fujian province.

Chow’s views were shared by Cheng Yu-shek, a professor of public and social administration at City University of Hong Kong, who also expected that the next Chinese leadership will first address economic issues before tackling political ones.

China will have to make a choice between seeking a breakthrough in cross-strait political talks during the second and last term of President Ma Ying-jeou and exercising restraint from doing so as a result of the Taiwan general public’s lack of interest in changing the status quo.

While the next leaders will ultimately need to make such a decision, in the short term, it is safe to say that they will first focus on stabilizing the economy before contemplating political talks, Cheng said.