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A Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement with China?

In mid-February 2009, the debate on a possible Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) -- later changed to Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) -- with China started to heat up in Taiwan. Below we first link to a number of articles and commentaries, and then present a brief background paper with arguments, more cons than pro ...

Articles and commentaries

Below we link to articles and commentaries in the international press (latest one first)

5 September 2010: Nathan Novak: A downturn would strip the ECFA’s thin facade

28 August 2010: Lu I-ming: The ECFA is no get out of jail free card

27 August 2010: Straits Exchange Foundation: ECFA likely to begin next month

8 August 2010: Taiwan News editorial: Taiwan-China ECFA needs renegotiation

8 July 2010: Jonathan Adams in the GlobalPost: China-Taiwan trade deal: Buyer's remorse?

6 July 2010: Jerome A. Cohen and Yu-Jie Chen: ECFA and Taiwan's political system

25 June 2010: Taipei Times editorial: How healthy will ECFA be?

25 June 2010: ECFA talks wrap up at Grand Hotel

25 June 2010: DPP says: ECFA panders to large corporations at expense of small companies

25 June 2010: SEC says ECFA to be signed on June 29th in Chungqing

14 June 2010: Prof. Jerome Keating: President Ma's credibility on the line with ECFA

14 June 2010: ECFA talks end with no "early harvest" list

14 June 2010: Anti ECFA groups join in protest campaign

13 June 2010: Former President Lee Teng-hui calls on public to oppose ECFA

13 June 2010: Premier Wu Den-yih: Signing of ECFA in June uncertain

7 June 2010: President Ma Ying-jeou: ECFA will reposition Taiwan

5 June 2010: DPP and FAPA: strongly protest ECFA referendum rejection

4 June 2010: Referendum Review Committee rejects ECFA referendum proposal

03 June 2010: Taipei Times editorial: Nightmare scenario under ECFA

03 June 2010: President Ma Ying-jeou urges PRC not to block FTAs

03 June 2010: DPP optimistic about referendum proposal

02 June 2010: Taipei Times editorial: Committee should not muzzle the public

02 June 2010: Premier Wu rejects referendum proposal

02 June 2010: Annie Chang: Is economic development bringing us happiness?

02 June 2010: Tienanmen Commemoration: Human rights should be added to ECFA

02 June 2010: Democratic opposition rallies behind TSU plebiscite

01 June 2010: Taipei Times editorial: Dissatisfaction with ECFA brewing

01 June 2010: Tung Chen-yuan Wu Chih-chung: Domestic consensus on ECFA still elusive

24 May 2010: Shu Chin-chiang: An ECFA will not promote trust

24 May 2010: Ku Chung-hwa, chair of Citizens' Congress Watch: Legislature must act as an ECFA watchman

23 May 2010: International scholars and writers: write an Open Letter to LY Speaker Wang Jin-pyng about ECFA

23 May 2010: Experts: ECFA a threat to food security

23 May 2010: Ma Ying-jeou: ECFA part of a global trend

17 May 2010: DPP: ECFA message inconsistent

07 May 2010: Taiwan News editorial: Only Taiwan citizens can ratify ECFA with China

23 April 2010: Taiwan News editorial: What the Taiwan people want in Ma-Tsai debate

21 April 2010: Taiwan News editorial: Taiwan's alternatives to Ma's ECFA with PRC

20 April 2010: Taipei Times editorial: ECFA gun pointed at Taiwan’s head

20 April 2010: The DPP rejects Government's ECFA report

19 April 2010: White-collar workers rally for complete ECFA debate

19 April 2010: Official: Next ECFA talks to produce early harvest list

19 April 2010: Former MAC deputy chair Tung Chen-yuan: urges ECFA referendums

18 April 2010: Ma Ying-jeou: ECFA is link to the world

18 April 2010: Legislator Lee Wen-chung: Government acting more like a trade emissary

17 April 2010: Ma Ying-jeou Taiwan, PRC at ‘historic juncture’

17 April 2010: Local leaders ink anti-ECFA pledge

16 April 2010: CLA Minister Wang unable to answer ECFA questions

16 April 2010: Government takes ECFA marketing blitz to trains

16 April 2010: DPP officials refuse to promote ECFA

15 April 2010: Opposition schedules anti-ECFA rally for June 6

15 April 2010: Ma Ying-jeou: ECFA with China ‘transitional’

14 April 2010: Taipei Times editorial: Government ignoring the obvious

13 April 2010: President Ma rejects ECFA job-loss claim

13 April 2010: Democratic Progressive Party warns of conflicts of interest around ECFA

13 April 2010: Signature drive for ECFA referendum ahead of schedule

12 April 2010: ECFA opponents plan rally on referendum

12 April 2010: Prof. Peter Chow of NYU ECFA will end our political autonomy

12 April 2010: Taipei Times editorial: ECFA debate must be objective

12 April 2010: Liberty Times editorial: ECFA conspiracy must be stopped

07 April 2010: Taipei Times editorial Victory for ECFA opponents in debate

07 April 2010: KMT officials deny ECFA is a threat to white-collar jobs

06 April 2010: Taiwan News editorial: Ma is wrong on ECFA referendum in Taiwan

06 April 2010: Danish specialist Michael Danielsen: Need to 'demystify' ECFA

06 April 2010: Televised LY ECFA debate ends in disagreement

05 April 2010: Taiwan News editorial: Taiwan's future is issue in ECFA debate

03 April 2010: China's negotiator silent as ECFA delegation heads back to PRC

02 April 2010: President & DPP Chairperson to hold debate on ECFA

02 April 2010: In Taiwan: Little achieved at ECFA negotiations

01 April 2010: Taipei Times editorial: Too many doubts remain about ECFA

01 April 2010: In Taoyuan: Scuffles break out over ECFA meeting

01 April 2010: Wu Hui-lin: Ma must consult public on ECFA

01 April 2010: Prof. Jerome Keating: Suspicions abound over Ma’s ECFA deadline

31 March 2010: Prof. Chen Po-chih: blasts ECFA as poisonous

29 March 2010: Liberty Times editorial: Taiwan deserves ECFA referendum

29 March 2010: Ambassador Nat Bellocchi: Is ECFA beneficial to Taiwan ... or the US?

26 March 2010: DPP poll reveals majority opposed to signing of ECFA

20 March 2010: CNA report: ECFA talks set to take place at end of month

18 March 2010: Former diplomat Benjamin Lu skeptical about benefits of an ECFA

18 March 2010: James Wang: Beijing's intentions for ECFA are very clear

18 March 2010: DPP rejects ECFA as "false front"

16 March 2010: Taipei Times editorial: ECFA requires more than "belief"

16 March 2010: DPP legislators: Wen Jiabao a "liar", ECFA a tool

15 March 2010: Liu Shih-chung: ECFA and Taiwan’s footnote in history

15 March 2010: Presidential office defends ECFA plan

15 March 2010: China's Wen Jiabao tries to calm Taiwan fears over ECFA

14 March 2010: John J. Tkacik Jr: ECFA threatens competitiveness

14 March 2010: Vice President Vincent Siew: Taiwan needs ECFA with China

23 February 2010: Ma Ying-jeou: Ma touts the signing of an ECFA

29 January 2010: Taiwan News editorial: Taiwan-China ECFA unequal from start

28 January 2010: China: Taiwan has agreed to speed up ECFA negotiations

25 January 2010: Beijing ECFA talks to take place January 26th

23 January 2010: MAC Chair Lai Shin-yuan: China will not block FTAs

23 January 2010: Interview with Ma Ying-jeou: ECFA will help Taiwan catch up with Asia

22 January 2010: President Ma Ying-jeou: ECFA is "just the beginning"

22 January 2010: Civic groups invite Ma to open debate on ECFA

22 January 2010: Michael Danielsen: Aiming for FTAs that would help Taiwan

21 January 2010: China denies supporting Taiwanese FTAs

21 January 2010: Cross Strait study: ECFA a win-win pact

20 January 2010: Wu Ming-ming: An ECFA would be bad news for farmers

20 January 2010: Prof. Honingmann Hong: The hole in the ECFA argument

20 January 2010: Taiwan academics: ECFA debate should be refocused

20 January 2010: SEF official: ECFA meeting likely to be delayed

17 January 2010: Liberty Times editorial: ECFA: Wickedness in the guise of policy

16 January 2010: LY Speaker Wang Jin-pyng: Legislative Yuan could overrule ECFA

12 January 2010: SEF Chair Chiang Pin-kung: No FTA conditions for ECFA talks

12 January 2010: Prof. Chen Hurng-yu: ECFA threatens Taiwan’s surplus

27 December 2009: Prof. Lin Wuu-long: Pros, cons of a cross-strait ECFA

27 December 2009: Ma Ying-jeou says he would never sell out Taiwan with ECFA

26 December 2009: Taiwan academics: Chen Yunlin visit underlines ECFA weaknesses

26 December 2009: Fu Weiche: Government answerable to the youth about ECFA

26 December 2009: Taipei mayor Hau: Hau resolves to promote ECFA

25 December 2009: DPP poll claims bipartisan support for FTA freedom

18 December 2009: Global Views magazine survey reveals split of opinion on the signing of an ECFA

08 December 2009: Ma Ying-jeou: ECFA to continue despite poll outcome

09 November 2009: Civic groups demand ECFA referendum

05 November 2009: Taipei Times editorial: Can ECFA negotiations be trusted?

27 October 2009: Mainland Affairs Council: Taiwan, China not ready to negotiate ECFA

18 October 2009: Liberty Times editorial: Let the public scrutinize the ECFA

15 October 2009: Prof. Lin Kien-tsu: ECFA just a step to annexing Taiwan

29 August 2009: Democratic Progressive Party firm on changing referendum law

28 August 2009: Referendum review committee rejects request for referendum on ECFA

16 August 2009: Cheng Li-chiun of Taiwan Thinktank: Will ECFA improve or damage our job market?

14 August 2009: Prof. Hsu Chung-hsin: ECFA will bring no trade benefit to Taiwan

14 August 2009: Chinese expert on Taiwan contradicts Ma’s ECFA claims

13 August 2009: Prof. Peter Chow: An ECFA could blind us all to the big picture

12 August 2009: Chao Wen-heng: Would an ECFA keep firms here?

09 August 2009: Gerrit van der Wees: ECFA, NAFTA nothing alike

04 August 2009: NTU Forum: FTA with China better than ECFA

31 July 2009: Taiwan News editorial: KMT 'visible hand' mars ECFA assessment

31 July 2009: Taipei Times: Viable alternatives to ECFA lacking

31 July 2009: DPP: Ministry distorted ECFA study

30 July 2009: Ma Ying-jeou promises to step up signing of ECFA with China

30 July 2009: Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research: ECFA to boot industry,create jobs

29 July 2009: Economic Affairs Minister Yiin apologizes over ECFA cartoons

29 June 2009: DPP Chair Tsai Ing-wen: Public wants ECFA referendum

19 June 2009: Pan-Green camp calls for explanation of ECFA impact

25 May 2009: Ma Ying-jeou: hopes for ECFA by next year

25 April 2009: Taipei Times editorial: ECFA: An instrument of betrayal

25 April 2009: Ma Ying-jeou wants ECFA in cross-Strait talks

22 April 2009: Taiwan News editorial: Twisted polls cannot back Taiwan-PRC ECFA

21 April 2009: Taiwan Solidarity Union: More than half of Taiwanese want referendum about ECFA with China

20 April 2009: Ministry of Economic Affairs wants ECFA by the end of 2009

17 April 2009: Prof. Wu Ming-ming: Ma ignoring ECFA consequences

13 April 2009: Liberty Times: ECFA: an economic masquerade

12 April 2009: DPP Chair Tsai Ing-wen pans Ma over ECFA

12 April 2009: MAC Chair Lai: ECFA unrelated to sovereignty

7 April 2009: Taiwan News editorial: MAC fails to show how ECFA aids Taiwan

31 March 2009: Former Vice Premier Wu Rong-i: Relying on China is a dangerous road to take

31 March 2009: Democratic Progressive Party calls for open ECFA talks

30 March 2009: Ministry of Economic Affairs: 'Opt out' clause mulled for ECFA

28 March 2009: NTU Professor Jack Lee pans government on ECFA

28 March 2009: Hong Kong union member warns against ECFA

28 March 2009: Premier Liu vows caution in pursuing ECFA

27 March 2009: Cheng Li-chiun of Taiwan Thinktank: ECFA will do Taiwan more harm than good

26 March 2009: Taiwan News editorial Consensus in Taiwan is ECFA precondition

26 March 2009: Business groups challenge Ma on ECFA with China

25 March 2009: DPP Chair Tsai Ing-wen: ECFA will divide society

21 March 2009: Taiwan President Ma will sign ECFA even if DPP objects

19 March 2009: Prof Peter Chow: ‘Six cents’ on a trade agreement with China

18 March 2009: DPP legislative whip lashes out over ECFA

16 March 2009: Taiwan News editorial: Dialogue is first step for Taiwan-China ECFA

16 March 2009: University experts warn of ECFA dangers

16 March 2009: MAC official plays down ECFA fears

15 March 2009: Cheng Li-chiun of Taiwan Thinktank: Benefits of an ECFA are just pie in the sky

14 March 2009: Taipei Times editorial: ECFA, the missing link in unification

14 March 2009: Ma Ying-jeou wants to talk to Tsai about ECFA, but not in a debate

13 March 2009: J. Michael Cole: No time for a nation of sheep

13 March 2009: Taipei Times: Lawmakers pan MAC for keeping mum over ECFA

13 March 2009: Mainland Affairs Council says it has no content yet for ECFA

12 March 2009: Mainland Affairs Council planning to conduct survey on ECFA

12 March 2009: Taiwan DPP wants public debate on trade pact with China

10 March 2009: Taiwan Premier says no ECFA with Beijing under "One China" framework

10 March 2009: Straits Exchange Foundation: still waiting for Cabinet approval of ECFA negotiations

9 March 2009: Lu Chun-wei: An alphabet soup filled approach to unification

7 March 2009: President and Cabinet differ on ECFA talks

7 March 2009: Ministry of Economic Affairs preparing position paper explaining ECFA

6 March 2009: Economists slam plan to sign an ECFA

6 March 2009: Taiwan protesters demand referendum on proposed ECFA

5 March 2009: Former President Lee Teng-hui: ECFA would be no silver bullet (DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen is also quoted).

5 March 2009: Professor Peter Chow: ECFA poses three likely outcomes for Taiwan

4 March 2009: Ministry of Economic Affairs: Signing of ECFA will not compromise Taiwan's sovereignty

4 March 2009: Taiwan News editorial: Taiwan's democracy is CECA bottom line

4 March 2009: Former WTO envoy warns Taiwan against rushing to sign economic pact with China

4 March 2009: Taipei Times editorial: CECA or ECFA: Who cares?

4 March 2009: Prime Minister Liu denies ‘political’ bias in ECFA plan

4 March 2009: Economic Forum slams proposed ECFA agreement

2 March 2009: Taiwan News: DPP supports Taiwan referendum on ECFA agreement with China

2 March 2009: Lu Shih-hsiang: One more brick in the roadway to unification

2 March 2009: Taipei Times: Critics challenge Ma’s ECFA claims

1 March 2009: DPP Chair Tsai Ing-wen: CECA comes with big hidden costs

27 February 2009: Liberty Times editorial: CECA a threat to Taiwan’s freedom

27 February 2009: LY Speaker Wang Jin-pyng: opposes CECA without a legislative review

26 February 2009: Taipei Times editorial: A CECA needs thorough debate

26 February 2009: Tung Chen-yuan: Taiwan may be left out in the cold (On the issue of links between a CECA and regional (APEC+) trade agreements).

25 February 2009: Premier Liu says no timetable for CECA with China

25 February 2009: Civil group calls for debate on proposed CECA

24 February 2009: Taipei Times editorial: CECA: Ma ignores the fears of millions

24 February 2009: Prof. Hsu Yung-ming: Dependency theory with a new twist in Taiwan

24 February 2009: Taiwan News editorial: Taiwan can't ignore CECA political risk

23 February 2009: Taiwan News editorial: Ma's China fantasy, Taiwan's realities

21 February 2009: Washington Post: Taiwan, China Negotiating a Landmark Free-Trade Agreement

20 February 2009 Taipei Times: President Ma: Nothing to fear from a CECA with Beijing

20 February 2009 University professors: Comprehensive agreement is a unification trade trap

15 February 2009 DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen urges government to seek consensus on CECA

12 January 2009 Taiwan ex-envoy: Cross-strait pacts may violate WTO rules

09 January 2009 Gerrit van der Wees: Closer economic ties bring significant risks

18 October 2008 Taiwan Thinktank Forum: Economic Partnership Agreement endangers Taiwan

Background to the CECA debate

More Cons than Pros ...

The proposals for a formalization of closer economic ties with China had been part of the agenda of the newly-elected Kuomintang government since it came to power in May 2008

However, the issue had been on a back burner until now, awaiting completion of the four agreements on cross Strait aviation, shipping, postal links and food safety, which had been initiated earlier. These four agreements were signed during the controversial visit to Taiwan of Chinese envoy Chen Yunlin, which prompted large-scale demonstrations in Taipei.

The CECA discussion burst out into the open when in mid-February 2009, KMT government officials announced that the government would start negotiations with China with the purpose of signing such an agreement. The democratic opposition of the DPP and other civic groups in Taiwan immediately objected that no consultations had been held, and that it was a highly sensitive issue, and Taiwan should therefore have a reasonable consensus before proceeding.

The problem with an agreement of the type being proposed by the Ma Administration is threefold:

  1. The structure of the CECA is very similar to the CEPA agreement arrived at earlier between China and Hong Kong, in which Hong Kong is clearly a subsidiary of China. The Democratic opposition of the DPP and the smaller Taiwan Solidarity Union therefor oppose such an agreement, since it would undermine Taiwan's sovereignty;

  2. The CECA would be an agreement between a very large China and a very small Taiwan: any sense of balance would be gone, and the interests of China would wipe out those of Taiwan;

  3. The present economic recession will in all likelyhood have severe repercussions in China, including social unrest. Closer links with China will leave Taiwan more vulnerable to dumping of Chinese goods, especially in the agricultural sector, while China’s cheap labor will undercut Taiwan’s workers in the already weakened traditional industrial sector. The overall effect is that Taiwan will be dragged along in the downward spiral of China’s economic meltdown.