Pragmatic tiesThe relationship between China and Taiwan has improved rapidly. Both sides have agreed to establish representative offices for the first time since mainland China turned to communism in 1949.
Direct flights that were hitherto only allowed during traditional holidays will run every weekend starting next month. Routes will also be expanded to run between five Chinese and eight Taiwanese cities.
Without having to travel via a third country, people will be able to get visas at the representative offices, to be established in Beijing and Taipei, and visit each other by traveling on direct flights.
The relationship between China and Taiwan has improved beyond expectation and despite Ma Ying-jeou, the former chairman of the Kuomintang Party and currently the president of Taiwan, proposing three “NOs”: no reunification, no independence and no to use of military force.
Wu Poh-hsiung, current Kuomintang chairman, met President Hu Jintao at the end of last month, marking the first summit between the Kuomintang and the Communist Party in the 59 years since the separation.
In addition, China ended its opposition to Taiwan joining the World Health Organization and agreed to the establishment of representative offices.
This shows a more flexible attitude toward Taiwan, endowing it with quasi-diplomatic status.
The rapid easing of tensions between China and Taiwan is shaking up regional relations in Northeast Asia. Since the inauguration of Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda’s cabinet, ties between Japan and China have enjoyed a honeymoon period. Talks between Japan and North Korea have also begun.
As President Lee Myung-bak openly leans toward the United States, subtle degrees of tension between South Korea and China are becoming apparent. China is strengthening its traditional ties with North Korea, while the relationship between the South and North Korea is stalling.
China and Taiwan base their new-found diplomatic cordiality on a pursuit of truth based on reality. Lee Myung-bak’s administration could learn a lot by observing the pragmatism defining the rapidly improving relations between China and Taiwan.