body{background-attachment: fixed ! important; }

Monday, January 16, 2012

China's Iron Horse: PRC Deploys Giant To Scare Victory For Ma

In a follow-up piece to the Big Bike pre election rally for the incumbent, Ma Ying-jiu, Bicycle Retailer offers up another cheerleading piece for the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).

Taiwan’s manufacturers will benefit from a stable cross-strait relationship, said Tony Lo, chairman of the Taiwan Bicycle Exporters Association and CEO of Giant, the island and the industry’s leading frame maker.
“Taiwan’s high-end bike export to China has grown 87 percent in 2011. It could double again in 2012. This will have a positive influence of the transformation of the Chinese bike market toward recreational and sport in the future,” Lo said in an e-mail.
Lo cited Ma’s ECFA, or Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement, which eliminated duties on bikes shipped between Taiwan and China as of January 1. Since Ma signed the ECFA in June 2010—gradually reducing duties on bicycles and other consumer goods exported from Taiwan—the trade pact has already boosted business in China for Taiwan manufacturers like Giant, Merida and rim maker Alex Global.
I think what is important and puzzling to note is that the DPP challenger, Tsai Ing-wen, gave absolutely no indication of repealing ECFA, nor did she indicate anything other than continued business relationships with China. Without the Chinese Nationalist ideology, Tsai's platform actually appeared more pragmatic and tenable for the long term.

So why is cross strait economic stability continually at stake in Taiwan's democratic election cycles?

Simple... It is not.

This is a fantastic example of some of the levers China uses to influence Taiwan's democratic elections.

The only party which can elect to create instability in the economic relations between Taiwan and China... is China. Taiwanese politicians of any stripe gain nothing from poor economic relations with any state, let alone China. China's "anger" is a strategic device. Now, rather than negotiating against diverging interests, Taiwan is reduced to negotiating against the mercurial device of China's potential anger-- a device with no clear definitions or triggers.

So why would China imply it might consider punitive action should its chosen candidate (Ma) not be elected?

The answer would be that China's economic relationships with Taiwan are not designed to be purely economic and in the interest of creating a better business environment, but they also come tainted by China's political designs for Taiwan, which it seeks to annex as part of a greater strategic program of regional economic and territorial expansion.

Ma Ying-jiu makes the perfect foil for Beijing as he also harbors beliefs in Taiwan as a political and cultural dependency of China and therefore, politically, makes sense to Beijing as the candidate who will best cooperate in bringing China's plans to fruition.

Gaint's Tony Lo simply exemplifies how Taiwanese businesses in China can allow themselves to become pawns of a much larger, more dangerous game.

For a long-time observer, it is a little sad seeing a company that has risen on the back of Taiwanese pride, allow itself to be used as a political lever against Taiwanese democracy.