After ECFA: The Present and Future of Cross-Strait Relations
With an Address by Minister Shin-Yuan Lai, Director of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council
About This Event

On June 29, 2010, Taipei and Beijing signed the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA). This pact, essentially a free trade agreement, is expected to raise Taiwan's economic growth rate and could stabilize relations across the Taiwan Strait in the coming years, benefitting U.S. economic and security interests in the region. Listen to Audio

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While the ECFA is indicative of warmer cross-Strait ties, many aspects of the China-Taiwan dispute are not resolved. Beijing has continued its buildup of missiles opposite Taiwan and has not abandoned its threat to use force against the island. How does the Ma administration assess cross-Strait ties in the wake of the ECFA's signing? What are the next steps for the governments in Taipei and Beijing? Shin-Yuan Lai, minister of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council, addressed these and other questions at this AEI event.

Event Summary

WASHINGTON, AUGUST 4, 2010--Speaking Wednesday at AEI, Minister Shin-Yuan Lai, director of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council, explained the key developments in cross-Strait relations under President Ma Ying-jeou and offered some perspective on future relations. In particular, she praised the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) as a means for Taiwan to integrate itself into the regional economy, to avoid marginalization, and to establish itself as an Asia-Pacific trade hub. Additionally, Lai asserted that the ECFA would bring greater stability and predictability to cross-Strait relations, which would benefit not only China and Taiwan but also trading partners such as the United States. Finally, she emphasized that continued support from the United States gave Taiwan the confidence it needs to pursue an engagement policy with China and move forward on lessening tensions.

  • "ECFA will enable Taiwan to push forward with the international alignment of Taiwan's economy. It will enable Taiwan to gain inclusion in regional economic integration. It will enable Taiwan to avoid being marginalized, and to keep a place in global industrial chains. This situation will be beneficial not only to Taiwan, but to all of our economic partners, too. American firms will be able to gain great advantage from it for their investment positioning in Asia."
    --Minister Shin-Yuan Lai, Director of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council

  • "The Taiwan experience has hitherto served as one of the key factors in the transformation of mainland China's economy and trade, and this role is set to continue in the future. Moreover, with the expansion and deepening of cross-Strait contacts in the social, cultural and other spheres, the influence of the Taiwan experience in mainland China will not be limited only to the realm of economy and trade. The United States should attach importance to such influence and further strengthen relations with Taiwan to support its positive effects."
    --Minister Shin-Yuan Lai, Director of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council

  • "I will say again what I have said before: cadence and direction are very important. What Taiwan's 23 million people need is a compass for the development of cross-Strait relations. We will act in accordance with our established objectives in pursuing stable and orderly progress in cross-Strait relations. I also must emphasize that the Republic of China is a sovereign and independent country. This is an established fact, which mainland China cannot deny. If cross-Strait relations are to develop further, the mainland will need to understand and face up to this fact. Most of all, mainland China will need to respect this fact."
    --Minister Shin-Yuan Lai, Director of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council


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Speaker biographies

Shin-Yuan Lai has been minister of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council since 2008. Prior to her appointment as minister, Ms. Lai was a member of the Legislative Yuan from 2005 to 2008, a senior advisor on the National Security Council, and Taiwan's chief negotiator during its accession to the World Trade Organization. Ms. Lai was also an adjunct associate professor at both Tamkang University and Shih Hsin University, and has held positions at the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research, the Chinese Taipei Pacific Economic Cooperation Committee, and the Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research.


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