China and Taiwan in highest-level talks ever

Why now? Is is sort of a breakthrough or not, and why? Read few comments.

Nathan K. H. LiuAssociate Professor, Ming Chuan University

a) This is only a meeting with symbolic nature regardless of being touted by some local media as the first cross-Strait meeting of political issues. To be fair, the meeting is indeed an ice-breaking move across the Taiwan Straits, but it can only go this far. It is actually not necessary to attach too much political implication to the meeting at this stage. Having said that, the meeting is nonetheless a sign of goodwill from the two sides.

b) Some said that Wang is not treated on an equal stand since he is not allowed to visit Beijing and will not meet any high-ranking officials from local governments in Nanjing and Shanghai, not to mention those from Beijing. However, I think that the meeting is like a trial balloon. Both sides across the Strait need to take cautious steps before going further. It is especially important to Ma administration since he needs to make sure that political talk, if any in the future, is what the general public wants and this will not lead to opposition DPP’s strong protest.

c) Both sides know this is only the first step and will not expect too much for the results. However, if this goes well and the reaction from the general public, especially from Taiwan, is good. This meeting may serve as the ground for the political talk with substantial issues in the future, which is to say that setup of representative offices to each other, high-ranking official visits from the both sides, or even Ma-Xi meeting may all be possible.

d) Why now? Ma’s term will end in 2016. Time is pressing for Ma if he wants to make an imprint on the cross-Strait history.

David GoodmanProfessor of Chinese Politics, University of Sydney

I too have been wondering about the timing. Possibly it has to do with the international relations environment currently in East Asia. A united front, as it were against Japan. Fits well with the China Dream too in that context. Possibly also because there are increasing numbers of ‘Taiwanese’  in East China, whole areas now that host ex pat communities. And partly just the natural progression of communications and involvement that includes transport, communications, business and people movement.

It is of course a breakthrough moment, but one which has been brewing for some time.

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