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Commercial Times: Cross-Strait CEO Summit's new direction

2017/11/12 16:42:38

The 2017 Cross-Strait CEO Summit (CSCS) concluded in Nanjing on Nov. 7 after two days, during which the 700 participating business leaders from Taiwan and China signed 29 agreements and memorandums of understanding (MOUs).

Held under the theme "New situation, new business opportunities, and new mindset," this year's CSCS was significant because it was the first major cross-strait exchange in the wake of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party (CCP) of China in October.

It was also significant because Yu Zhengsheng (俞正聲) was addressing the CSCS for the last time as chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, a post from which he oversees Taiwan affairs.

Yu is expected to leave his post next March and reportedly will be replaced by Wang Yang (汪洋).

In his address at the 2017 CSCS, Yu reiterated Beijing's stance on Taiwan, as laid out at the 19th CPC National Congress, saying it rests on the pillars of upholding the one-China principle, observing the 1992 Consensus, and resolutely opposing any separatist moves toward "Taiwan independence" in any form.

He said entrepreneurs on both sides of the Taiwan Strait should capitalize on mainland China's rapid development by exploring broader areas of economic cooperation and should shoulder the responsibility of leading the peaceful development of cross-strait relations.

He also proposed greater cross-strait cooperation in the area of innovation and called for small- and medium-sized enterprises and young people to participate in the cooperation efforts.

His comments were interpreted by people on both sides of the strait as an assurance that the annual CSCS will continue in the years ahead, serving as an important non-governmental channel for dialogue between Taiwan and China on economic and trade issues.

In the coming years, the focus of the CSCS no doubt will include the goals of the Chinese government's major initiatives such as its 13th Five-Year Plan for Economic and Social Development, its Two Centenaries plan, and its One Belt, One Road initiative.

The summit is also likely to play an increasingly important role in building cross-strait business cooperation and alliances, given the fact that official exchanges between Taiwan and China have been suspended since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office in May 2016.

Despite the cooler cross-strait ties, however, a major project by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) will go ahead in China. At the recent CSCS, it was announced that TSMC will hold a groundbreaking ceremony next month for a 12-inch wafer plant in Nanjing, which indicated the Nanjing local government's full support for the project.

The role of the CSCS in cross-strait relations will also extend to young people on both sides, bringing them into the bilateral economic cooperation efforts. To this end, the Jiangsu Province government has already set up a fund for young entrepreneurs, targeting Taiwanese youth in particular, while the Nanjing government has established a young entrepreneur academy specifically for Taiwanese.

The Taiwan government would do well to pay attention to China's efforts to lure young Taiwanese by offering them employment opportunities on the Chinese mainland.

It remains to be seen, however, whether such projects will contribute in the long term to the development of Taiwanese businesses, as the initiatives all seem focused on offering work in China for Taiwanese youth.

Nonetheless, in the absence of a channel for official dialogue between the two sides at this time, it is important that the Taiwan government seize the opportunities available through the CSCS.

By so doing, the public and private sectors will be able to work together to explore business opportunities worldwide. (Editorial abstract - Nov. 12, 2017)

(By Joseph Yeh)