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April 28, 2017

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Taiwan, China continue to boost ties after protests: magazine

TAIPEI--Beijing and Taipei have decided to carry on normally with cross-Taiwan Strait relations following an occupation of Taiwan's parliament by students, but it is unclear how long the status quo can last, an article in The Diplomat said Saturday.

While the most eye-catching part of the student movement has ended, the next phase could have much longer-lasting implications for Taiwan, and for cross-strait relations, Shannon Tiezzi, an associate editor at the magazine, argued in the article.

"One of the protestors' major demands, a legislative mechanism to oversee cross-strait agreements, has the potential to alter the way Taipei and Beijing interact," Tiezzi said in the article.

She said the measure will force deals like a controversial trade-in-services pact that the student protesters so vehemently opposed to undergo more intensive legislative oversight, throwing a democratic wrench into cross-strait negotiations, Tiezzi wrote.

"Despite the potential for a shift in cross-strait ties, Beijing and Taipei have both decided to carry on as usual," Tiezzi noted, adding that "China and Taiwan had a chance to return to normalcy somewhat this week, with former Taiwan politician Vincent Siew in Hainan for the Boao Forum for Asia."

Siew, who was vice president during President Ma Ying-jeou's first term from 2008-2012, met with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Zhang Zhijun, the director of China's Taiwan Affairs Office, in Boao.

"The meetings attempted to convey an image of 'business as usual' for cross-strait ties," Tiezzi said.

Siew told reporters after his meeting with Li that he had expressed "three major concerns of Taiwan's people": that Taiwan and China will shift from partners to rivals, that trade barriers restrict Taiwan's access to mainland markets, and that Taiwan "urgently needs" to join in regional economic integration.

While Li and Siew did not discuss the student movement, Zhang was adamant that the movement would not affect the development of cross-strait relations, according to Tiezzi.

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