Sunday 22 Jul 2018 | 07:22 | SYDNEY
Sunday 22 Jul 2018 | 07:22 | SYDNEY

Win-win for China and Taiwan


Sam Roggeveen


5 November 2008 10:19

This seems like very encouraging news:

Taiwan and China Tuesday signed a range of deals aimed at bringing the two sides closer economically, after almost 60 years of hostilities that often took them to the brink of war. Officials from the two sides were shown live on television signing four agreements that are potentially worth billions of dollars, after talks that marked a significant warming of ties between the former bitter enemies.

And that's not all. Taiwan is even flirting with the idea of military-to-military contacts, and a formal peace treaty.

The concern in Taiwan is that this is a step toward a Chinese economic takeover of the island. But both Passport and the Washington Realist take the view improved economic linkages are good for Taiwan because they increase the potential costs of war. Closer economic ties, then, make the political status quo between China and Taiwan more stable.

I think this is basically persuasive, but it is worth noting that China's military modernisation of the last two decades has likely had the opposite effect on Chinese thinking, in that it has encouraged the belief that war against Taiwan is winnable.