buoyant and brimming with bonhomie
Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou is understandably buoyant and brimming with bonhomie after staving off defeat in elections two weeks ago.
But there is an air of excessively exuberant optimism around the “golden decade” economic plan he is promoting as the hallmark of his second and last four-year term.
Last week he reiterated his determination for Taiwan to join the still-gestating Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade group and to pursue economic cooperation agreements with Singapore, New Zealand, India and the more attractive prospects among the 10 countries of Southeast Asia.
These are admirable objectives, but since the 1970s when most countries of the world consigned Taiwan to sub-nation status in their lust for diplomatic relations with China, what Taiwan can and cannot join has been decided by the Beijing government.
Beijing claims to own Taiwan and its 23 million people, and for over 30 years has resolutely blocked the island nation from joining any international organization or trade pact under terms that might confer the status of an independent state.
During his first four-year term, Ma attempted to cool increasingly tense relations between China and Taiwan, with a worried United States frowning from the sidelines, by signing an Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) with Beijing.
This allowed for the first direct trade, tourism and transport links between Taiwan and China since the Kuomintang government of China led by Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek fled to the island in 1949 after defeat by the Communists in China’s civil war.
The benefits of the much-trumpeted “early harvest” from the ECFA have been mixed.
While tourism and trade undoubtedly gave a bit of a boost to Taiwan’s gross domestic product, it has also undermined what was once one of the most equitable societies in the world.
The agreement has infected Taiwan with the Chinese disease of widening disparity between rich and poor.
Beijing undoubtedly saw the ECFA as a way to enmesh Taiwan in China’s economic coils, making progress toward political union inevitable.
That might well be achieved with the successful conclusion of negotiations for the next four items on the cross-strait economic agenda: trade in goods and services, and agreements on investment and intellectual property rights.
Judging by history, it is hard to imagine that Beijing will allow the Taipei government to engage in other trade pacts until all the ECFA ropes are tied off.
Indeed, Chinese officials have said as much.
Speaking to reporters from WantChinaTimes.com on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC) in November, two Beijing officials made it clear Taiwan has a choice between the ECFA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. One or the other. Not both.
The TPP, which Canada also wants to join, but is being blocked by the U.S. and New Zealand because of our dairy industry subsidies, is still being formed.
Members now are the U.S., Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru and Singapore. Japan says it wants to join and if the logical circle is completed with Mexico, Canada, the Philippines and South Korea in the tent the TPP will become the world’s largest trade bloc.
There have been several rounds of negotiations to discuss what will be included in the TPP. The U.S. is trying, so far successfully, to influence the trade and investment values and standards of behaviour that are eventually enshrined in the pact.
Washington wants the highest achievable standards of free trade, openness and intellectual property rights.
This, of course, has made it impossible for China, which is fast sliding back into an economy of politically directed state-controlled enterprises, to contemplate joining.
Beijing also has concluded that the TPP is as much part of the determination of the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama to reassert itself as a strategic Pacific power as it is a commercial gathering.
So from Beijing’s point of view, Ma wanting Taiwan to join the TPP is equivalent to him lining up with the nations bent on containing China’s rise.
But there are no imminent deadlines on this issue. Not only is the TPP not fully formed, but Ma has only spoken vaguely of Taiwan joining within 10 years.
If he were a more astute politician it might be concluded Ma is trying to play poker with Beijing.
經建會今天（31號）公佈最新的景氣對策信號，十二月亮出了睽違三十個月以來，所看到的第一顆「藍燈」，景氣對策信號分數也掉到只有14分，同時十一月原 本亮出的「黃藍燈」17分，也修正到突破象徵「景氣衰退」的「藍燈」臨界值：16分。 經建會分析，由於歐債危機對全球市場 ...
| Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs: |
Talk is cheap
Cf. [c 1600 A. Munday et al. Sir T. More (1911) 23] Woords are but wordes, and payes not what men owe; [1639 Chapman & Shirley Ball v. i.] You may heare talke; but give me the man That has measur'd 'em: talkes but talke.
Seying goes good cheap.
[1668 R. B. Adagia Scotica 47]
Talk is cheap, it don't cost nothin' but breath.
[1843 T. C. Haliburton Attaché I. ii.]
Talk's cheap. You could never make me believe that.
[1929 K. C. Strahan Footprints i.]
‘Talk is cheap‥because the supply always exceeds the demand.’
[2002 Washington Times 16 Mar. F15 (Herb & Jamaal comic strip)]
Related to: boasting; words and deeds
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