Taiwan sees China as both threat and opportunity

Chairman of the Taipei Foundation says even though relations are difficult, economic improvement his chief concern

Chairman of the Taipei Foundation says even though relations are difficult, economic improvement his chief concern

ANKARA - Taiwan sees China as both a threat and an opportunity, the chairman of the Taipei Foundation has told a conference in Ankara, the Turkish capital.

Speaking at "Taiwan's Role in the East Asian Economic Integration," Prof. Chi Su told the audience that even though relations between the two countries remain difficult, Taiwanese economic improvement was his chief concern.

"In almost 6 years, the two sides have a lot of exchanges economically, culturally and some extent politically but not yet military," Chi told the conference, organized by the Ankara-based think tank International Strategic Research Organization.

Since the Chinese Civil War of 1949, China has claimed Taiwan as its own, and has threatened to take it by force if it takes too many overtures toward independence. Taiwan, meanwhile, has insisted on maintaining its sovereign status. 

Trade between the two countries -- around 100 miles apart -- is now at $150 billion, according to Su, while Taiwan maintains a lot of investment in China, especially in IT and semiconductor industries.

"There are now 800 direct flights between China and Taiwan each week, and more than 300,000 marriages between Taiwan and Chinese nationals," Chi added, saying that Taiwan and mainland China no longer discuss sensitive issues such as sovereignty, international space issues or military issues. 

"We only talk about how to make money together... keeping us together instead of keeping us apart," he said.

Prof. Hung-Dah Su from the National University of Taiwan told the audience that Asian regionalism was of major importance -- quoting various trade pacts as being of tremendous benefit to the region -- but highlighted corporations such as the IMF as not being friendly.

He said that since becoming the world's biggest trading partner, China had started to advocate East Asia regionalism.

Foreign trade has been the engine of Taiwan's rapid growth during the past 40 years. Its main exports are electronics, basic metals, plastics and rubber, optical and photographic instruments, and chemicals. 

Its main trading partners are China, Hong Kong, the U.S., Japan, European countries and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

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