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Tsai banging her head against a brick wall

China Daily | Updated: 2018-10-12 07:51

Editor's note: In a speech on Wednesday, Tsai Ing-wen referred to the mainland as China instead of the Chinese mainland, which clearly confirmed her denial of the 1992 Consensus on One China and unveiled her intention to separate Taiwan from the motherland. Three experts share their views on the issue with China Daily's Yao Yuxin and Pan Yixuan. Excerpts follow:

Tsai is seeking benefits from Sino-US tensions

The one-China principle, recognized by the whole world, is the mainland's red line for cross-Straits relations. It should never be crossed. Tsai's refusal to uphold the consensus has raised tensions across the straits, which she has tried to turn to her advantage by pretending the island is the victim of the mainland's bullying rather than her irresponsible actions.

Tsai is good at seeking benefits from international complexities and more specifically, from the Sino-US tensions. So unsurprisingly, this time, she is trying to exploit the trade dispute unilaterally initiated and escalated by the United States against China.

The Tsai administration makes no secret of identifying itself as being in the same camp as the US allies who have the intention to contain China, which will undoubtedly worsen cross-Straits relations.

Tsai persists in creating feelings of hostility toward the mainland, and keeps raising the importance of unrealistic cooperation, such as her Southbound policy which has proved useless in stimulating the island's economy.

Rather than isolating the island from the mainland to propagate the political conspiracy of "Taiwan Independence", Tsai should learn from her predecessor that it is with the mainland that the island should be strengthening its connections to for the island's better development and the livelihoods of Taiwan residents.

Zhu Songling, a professor at the Institute of Taiwan Studies of Beijing Union University

Cooperating with mainland makes substantial progress

Tsai finally peeled off her hypocritical mask and gave her public speech more harshly than ever before, directly and indirectly against the Chinese mainland. However, in the latter part, Tsai began to pitch herself by touting the political achievements she made after taking office.

Without doubt, it's more of a political show.

In response of the island's local election in November, Tsai gave no-name but strong-directional blame to the Chinese mainland over the island's "national security".

Also, in response to Mike Pence's critical speech toward China, consistent with US' desire to contain China's rise, Tsai claimed the island would adjust its role in global supply chains in the future by cooperating with the US, Japan and European Union to develop sophisticated manufactures, corresponding to Made in China 2025 industry upgrading plan.

The US has long taken Taiwan as a pawn in its political game with China and Tsai is hoping to get political gains from enthusiastically embracing that role.

Thus, it's not hard to see confrontations triggered by Tsai and her pro-independence party, are intensified in all respects from politics, economy to military.

As for the upgrading for the island's industrial structure, only by cooperating with the Chinese mainland can Taiwan make substantial progress, as its cooperation with the Western countries is in very limited fields and more importantly, its main market for the new technologies 'practical uses is absolutely in the mainland.

Yin Cunyi, a professor at the Institute of Taiwan Studies, Tsinghua University

Taiwan cannot avoid mainland market

To some extent, it is reasonable that Taiwan should adjust its role in regional development and global supply chains, given the industrial transformation of the Chinese mainland and the mainland's trade war with the United States.

The mainland has played an important role in the island's industrial layout, particularly for Taiwan processing companies. But the mainland's economic development has reached a turning point and is undergoing transformation, which requires more investment in environmental protection and higher wages for workers, causing increasing production costs for the mainland's manufacturers. Therefore, for lower costs, some overseas companies are considering leaving the Chinese mainland for Asian countries with cheaper labor.

Meanwhile, the trade war the US has instigated against the mainland, in which the US has imposed wide-ranging high tariffs on Chinese exports, has harmed those companies on the island with mainland investments.

Taiwan has to prepare for increasing challenges to its economy, it needs to cooperate with advanced entities in high-end innovation and expand cooperation with emerging markets.

However, Taiwan also intends to echo Washington's economic countermeasures against the mainland's economy and accelerate disconnecting the island's industry from the mainland, enhancing its cooperation with the US not only in military ties but also in economy collaboration in a bid to help strengthen competitiveness.

But Taiwan cannot abandon the mainland market. The mainland is experiencing a transformation with inevitable pain in exchange for a better investment environment and more advanced economic model. The New Southbound policy of the Tsai administration, which seeks cooperation with India and Southeastern Asian countries, has failed since it was introduced and it will not succeed whatever situation Taiwan is in. With ties of blood, a shared culture and considerable regional connections, Taiwan and the mainland will always be a whole.

Besides, Washington seeks a more favorable trade pattern with the mainland through its trade war. When the two sides finally find a solution to their dispute, the Chinese mainland will reach a new phase of economic development.

If it depends on other powers rather than the mainland, Taiwan will miss a great forthcoming opportunity for its economic transformation.

Shen Dingli, professor at the Institute of International Studies, Fudan University

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