ABSTRACT

This study explores the social basis of Taiwan’s cross-Strait policies since 2008, observing the various groups who support and/or reject particular cross-Strait policies. More specifically, it examines how various factors, such as gender, ethnicity, social status, party identification and national identity, influence the possibility of supporting or opposing particular cross-Strait policies. These divisions in opinions reflect the social impact of the rapidly changing cross-Strait relationship in Taiwan. Since the second change in ruling parties in 2008, Taiwan’s relationship with China has significantly warmed. Between 2008 and 2014, the two have held ten talks and signed 21 trade and investment pacts, have initiated direct cross-Strait flights and have made Taipei the first market outside Hong Kong that is able to clear Renminbi transactions. Thus, cross-Strait relations have become the centre of politics and the principal site of public disputes in Taiwan. Some Taiwanese would tend towards the view that boosting cross-Strait trade and investment will contribute positively towards driving Taiwan’s economic growth, while others are perturbed that it will only exacerbate the hollowing out of Taiwan’s manufacturing industries. In June 2010, the signing of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) opened up stronger cross-Strait ties in the fields of trade, finance and commerce. Cultural, educational and social exchanges have followed. In August 2010 Taiwan’s legislature passed a bill recognizing 41 Chinese university degrees, and as of 2014 the number of recognized Chinese universities had increased to 129. Meanwhile, Taiwan has started to allow its universities and colleges to admit Chinese degree-seeking students. These events were a continuation of the June 2008 opening of Taiwan to Chinese tour groups, which has reached a daily quota of 5,000 Chinese citizens since April 2013. Earlier, the number of Chinese visitors to Taiwan increased from an average of 3,600 a day, after the daily quota was raised from 3,000 to 4,000 in early 2011, with the stipulation that Chinese visitors to Taiwan should travel as part of organized groups. Then, after June 2011, a maximum of 500 individual tourists per day from three Chinese cities (Beijing, Shanghai and Xiamen) were allowed to visit Taiwan. As of August 2014, 36 Chinese cities have been approved to grant individual tourist visits to Taiwan, reaching a daily quota of 4,000 tourists and further promoting tourism and social interaction between the two societies.