The Diplomat’s Kelwin Choi recently sat down with Alan D. Romberg, distinguished fellow and the director of the East Asia program at the Stimson Center in Washington, DC, to discuss cross-Strait relations, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the East China Sea.
What is the significance of Mainland Affairs Council Minister Wang Yu-chi and Head of the Taiwan Affairs Office Zhang Zhijun’s “historic” meeting in Taiwan last month?
I think that the main importance of Zhang Zhijun’s visit to Taiwan is that it took place. This symbolized another step forward in cross-Strait links.
The two sides had clearly agreed beforehand that, as with Wang Yu-chi’s visit to the mainland, there would not be any announcements regarding agreements. So that was no surprise. There was, however, word that progress was made on a number of issues. For example, although it had been known for quite a while that the issue of “humanitarian visits” by personnel in the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATs) office to be established on each side had been resolved, that became a matter of formal record during Zhang’s visit. At the same time, the reciprocal establishment of those offices was not completed and remains pending business, a demonstration of how difficult it is to make progress even on what seems like a matter of pretty obvious benefit to both sides.
To read the full interview, click here.