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Jan 8, 2009

Ma praises cross-strait "willingness to improve relations," cites US support

It all sounds well and good, but this formulation really hints at three deeper truths: first, that China simply refused to talk to the DPP when it was in power, despite the DPP's willingness for unconditional negotiations; second, that China would only talk to Ma because he accepts Taiwan is part of the same country; and third, that the US has begun to expressed some reservations at Ma's policy direction.

Ma also cites public polling that shows people overwhelmingly support maintaining the status quo in Taiwan; again, the main problem with that question is how people define the status quo. And Ma's definition of the status quo "One China" is not in line with the public's definition.

And I ask again, what concrete gains have we gotten so far out of the cross-strait negotiations? Direct flights is about the only one I think Taiwan really won on, but even then there symbolic losses with the route direction, the choice of airports, etc.

So far shipping agreement hasn't done much for Taiwanese shippers or ports. Tourism has not increased markedly. Investment rules for the Taiwan housing market will be relaxed to allow mainland investment, but even if that provides a short term boost I don't think it can help the main problem in Taiwan's housing market, which is that prices are far too high and ought to face a downward correction of 50% or so.

Meanwhile, on the homefront democracy, freedom, press freedom, judicial neutrality and common sense are all under attack.

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