International affairs analyst Jonathan Manthorpe writes in today’s column:
It was only a matter of time before the efforts by Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou to improve relations with Beijing came up against the brutal truth that the vast majority of the island’s 23 million people do not want to be part of China.
Many Taiwanese have watched with increasing unease as Ma, elected in 2008 and re-elected in 2012, has chipped away at the walls of animosity carrying over from China’s civil war in 1949 when the Kuomintang (KMT) government fled to the island after defeat by Mao Zedong’s Communists.
Ma first oversaw the establishment of direct trade and communication links between Taiwan and China. Then, in 2010, Beijing and Taipei agreed on a basic free trade pact called the Economic Co-operation and Framework Agreement (ECFA).
Ordinary Taiwanese, however, have seen little benefit from the ECFA, which many see as allowing Beijing to dominate the island’s economy in furtherance of China’s ultimate aim of taking political control of the country, by force if necessary.
The tipping point — the bridge too far across the Taiwan Strait — came on March 18 after the KMT cut off debate in parliament, the Legislative Yuan, on a bill to enact an extension of the ECFA into service sectors such as banking, publishing, health services, tourism and construction …
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