Freeman Report Vol 7, No 11-12

Cross-Strait relations have improved dramatically since President Ma took office in May 2008. The key to this development was Ma’s “no independence, no unification and no use of force” declaration that essentially relieved the PRC of its worst nightmare, i.e., Taiwan’s formal declaration of independence. In return, Beijing has implicitly accepted a diplomatic truce and allowed Taiwan to attain observer status in the WHO. More broadly, the PRC has moved forward expeditiously on the economic front opening up to direct links (now totaling 270 weekly flights), promoting Chinese tourism to Taiwan (now up to one million per year) and imports from Taiwan. While the Ma administration and the PRC are not scheduled to include discussion of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) in the formal SEF-ARATS talks in December, the two are expected to conclude an “early harvest” agreement by 2010 with Beijing agreeing to lower or eliminate tariffs on a significant list of Taiwan imports to compete with those from ASEAN countries.