Will Economic Integration Lead to Political Assimilation?
The past decade witnessed a rapid growth of the Chinese economy. With an average annual growth rate of over 10% in the first decade of the twenty- first century, and the GDP per capita having risen from US$2,377 in 2000 to US$5970 in 2008, the Chinese economy has become the world’s second largest in 2010. Taiwan’s economy has benefitted from the impressive rise of China. The trade surplus on the part of Taiwan reached US$77.17 billion in 2010, while Taiwan’s investment in China reached US$97.32 billion in the same year.1 In addition to the appeal of the tremendous potential of the Chinese market to Taiwan’s business and its labor force to Taiwan’s manufacturers, political maneuvers were also used by the Chinese government to strengthen the ties of its economy to Taiwan. All the governors and highest-ranking officials of China’s 22 provinces visited Taiwan in recent years, each one leading a large “merchandise procurement group” to the country.2 All these groups from China visited, often in high profile, the southern part of Taiwan, targeting the local producers of agricultural goods, who did not have skills, connections, or production-scale size to export their produce to China. There is no doubt that the Chinese government hopes that economic integration will attract Taiwan’s people to the idea of unification with China, or at least weaken their movement toward Taiwan independence. As Chen Yun-lin, the president of the Chinese Association for Relations across the Taiwan Straits, said implicitly when visiting Taiwan in 2009, the negotiation between two sides should be “economy first, then politics.”3
KeywordsNational Identity Economic Integration Party Competition Military Threat Chinese Nationalist
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