ABSTRACT

Relations between Taiwan and China have seen remarkable changes since 2008, when the Nationalist Party, or Kuomintang (KMT), regained power after eight years of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) minority rule under the former independence activist and president, Chen Shui-Bian. The new KMT administration led by Ma Ying-Jiu immediately embarked on a new proactive China policy, which had been carefully prepared during informal talks with the Chinese leadership since the mid-2000s, by establishing an informal Economic Trade and Cultural Forum of the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to discuss practical matters of mutual concern and future cross-Strait policies.1 New crossStrait negotiations were set on track that have produced, to date, 20 bilateral agreements (xieyi) with far-reaching significance for the evolution of the crossStrait relationship.2 Most importantly, direct transportation, communication and trade links were established in late 2008, and in June 2010, the two sides signed an Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) to spur cross-Strait trade liberalization and economic integration (Chow 2013). Although Taiwan’s new China approach was sternly opposed by the DPP at first, the results of the presidential and legislative elections in January 2012 showed that the incumbent Ma administration had a fairly solid public mandate. After the defeat of the presidential hopeful, Tsai Ying-Wen, in that year, the DPP was forced to undertake some serious soul-searching concerning the question of whether, and to what extent, it would have to adjust its own China policy in order to stand a fair chance of winning important national elections again in the future (Schubert 2012a). More than two years into the second Ma administration, as this introduction is being written, cross-Strait relations seem to have arrived at a crossroads. The Sunflower movement (Taiyanghua yundong), which paralysed political life in Taiwan between 18 March and 10 April 2014, put an end to the relatively smooth process of rapprochement between Taipei and Beijing that had been developing during the previous few years. On the surface, the demonstrations and public debates were targeting the Trade in Services Agreement (fumao xieyi), which was suddenly pushed through the legislative process by the KMT and signed in June 2013 by representatives of China and Taiwan after months of uncompromising bickering in committee deliberations between the ruling party

and the opposition.3 There was, however, a more fundamental reason for the stand-off between the students and the government: to demonstrate open resistance to the China policy of the Ma administration, which was aimed at further liberalizing cross-Strait economic relations, allowing Chinese capital to enter Taiwan on a broad scale and, arguably, paving the way for cross-Strait ‘political talks’ to the detriment of Taiwan’s sovereignty and freedom. In fact, after the new leadership had been established under Xi Jinping in late November 2012, the Chinese government alluded to a necessary shift from ‘functional’ to political talks on various occasions, highlighting their unfulfilled desire to settle the ‘Taiwan issue’ once and for all. Today, the Ma administration is being forced to walk a political tightrope, since it has repeatedly declared that there is no alternative to further cross-Strait economic liberalization if Taiwan’s future well-being and solid integration in East Asian free trade regimes are to be ensured (see also Lin 2011). The critical question is how the government can reassure the Taiwan people that increasing exposure to Chinese trade competition, investment and labour migration, combined with political pressure reinforced by thousands of Chinese missiles targeting the island, will not pose a threat to Taiwan’s security in the middle and long term. There can be no doubt that China’s economic and political rise is having a stronger effect on Taiwan than on any other country, given the Chinese government’s claim to sovereignty over Taiwan and Taiwan’s quest to maintain its democratic achievements and political identity as a sovereign state, however that state might be named.4 Against this background, this volume deals with the ‘bigger picture’ of evolving relations across the Taiwan Strait, taking as a starting point the observation that China’s impact on Taiwan has become continuously stronger over the last 20 years. This relates not only to the economy but also to Taiwan’s domestic politics, society and so-called international space, i.e. Taiwan’s leeway for becoming a recognized entity that is allowed to play a respected and effective role in regional and global politics. A survey of the scholarly field reveals that numerous studies have dealt with the economic consequences of the China impact by examining Taiwanese capital flows and the relocation of Taiwanese factories to the Chinese mainland that started in the late 1980s and continued to intensify thereafter. This has triggered a long-standing debate on Taiwan’s rising trade dependency on China and the ‘hollowing out’ of the Taiwanese economy (Tanner 2007; Fuller 2008) as well as, more recently, on the impact of Chinese capital gaining access to Taiwan’s domestic markets – allegedly leading, among other things, to soaring prices in the real-estate sector, a depressed labour market and declining food security (Cheng and Mo 2006). From a different perspective, many studies have also gauged the China impact on Taiwan’s economic security in more general terms, coming to different conclusions that have often been informed by a more fundamental stance on the opportunities and dangers of cross-Strait integration and globalization for Taiwan (Dent 2001; Ho and Leng 2004; Lee 2008). Taiwan’s military security ‘in the shadow of China’ has been an issue of constant concern for Taiwan scholars observing the modernization of China’s armed forces and

US-Taiwan relations (Zhang 2011; Gelsing 2012; Bush 2013). In this context, an alarming debate has arisen in the US in recent years on the proposal to launch a new policy that would eventually lead to Taiwan’s being abandoned in order to remove the most difficult obstacle to amicable US-China relations (Mearsheimer 2014). Interestingly enough, this debate was triggered by the post-2008 détente in the Taiwan Strait, because some US scholars and politicians felt that Washington was no longer bound to support Taiwan and that the China policy premises should be redefined. At the same time, China has been exerting pressure on other states not to accommodate Taiwan’s quest for more international space and persistently limits Taiwan’s room for manoeuvre in those international organizations where Taiwan has already gained representation of some kind (Lindemann 2014). Fewer studies, at least in Western languages, have discussed the China impact in terms of the long-term consequences for Taiwan’s society. The useful volume edited by Kuei-Fen Chiu, Dafydd Fell and Ping Lin (2014) gives a good overview of the state of the field and includes some chapters that consider the consequences of Chinese migration to Taiwan, discussing, among other topics, the impact on official immigration policies, the formation of a mainland spouses’ rights movement, and changing family patterns under the influence of cross-Strait marriages. In terms of party politics, a few Taiwan scholars have discussed the China policy dilemma that is facing the DPP as a result of the China impact, i.e. the search for a new approach to reconcile the quest for Taiwan’s independence with the goal of winning elections, reflecting the pressure placed on the DPP to accommodate Taiwan’s inevitable escape from the ‘Chinese orbit’ (Schubert 2012b). Many more studies could be cited which, to different degrees, have touched on the China impact on Taiwan’s politics and society, but this topic has not yet been studied systematically or even considered from a comparative perspective. This volume is intended to fill this gap in the field of Taiwan studies. As a joint undertaking by the European Research Centre on Contemporary Taiwan and the Institute of Sociology at Academia Sinica in Taipei,5 political scientists and sociologists, including many from Taiwan, were invited to a conference held in Tübingen in July 2012 to examine and discuss the China impact on Taiwan in both empirical and conceptual terms.6 More precisely, the participants in this conference were asked to respond to the following research questions:

• What precisely is the ‘China impact’ on Taiwan in the research area they are concerned with? How can this impact be measured?