三通解套乍露曙光?

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2002 / 11月

文‧李光真


一度沉寂的三通議題,近來又因中共國務院副總理錢其琛的幾次談話而再度引爆。一向被視為兩岸角力指標的三通果真能「去政治化」嗎?兩岸藉此釋出的善意只是虛晃一招,還是真有可能「航」向大和解?各界莫不拭目以待。


十月十五日,由前立法院副院長饒穎奇帶隊的「世界自由民主聯盟中華民國總會」,在訪問北京時會見了中共國務院副總理錢其琛。錢其琛表示,三通問題不必特別指明是國內或國際航線,可以定位為「兩岸航線」。

之後在幾個不同場合,包括錢其琛等中共各階層又再度強調兩岸問題「政經分離」的立場,亦即三通不必在「一個中國」的前提下進行,可以比照台港、台澳航線模式,由民間業者自行談判,政府只需從旁協助即可。只是,錢其琛堅持,若要雙方政府「復談」(恢復政治性談話),則仍必須以「承認一個中國」為前提。

針對錢其琛的三通新定位,陳總統在第一時間內即表示「歡迎」,並相信這是對岸善意的表現。他表示,從新政府執政之初,就一直將三通視為重要施政目標,不過為了確保台灣不被「矮化、地方化、邊緣化」,同時顧及國家的安全及利益,在兩岸未能好好坐下來談之前,仍需審慎以對。

行政院長游錫$則強調,「三通不是解決經濟問題的萬靈丹」,希望各界不要賦予三通不切實際的過高期望。以香港為例,香港和大陸經貿往來幾乎無阻隔,但仍然難逃房地產暴跌、失業率高漲,及企業倒閉破產等危機。因此與其將焦點集中在三通,不如從改善投資環境著手,讓廠商根留台灣,心留台灣。

檢視中共此回如此明確地表述,讓三通與政治脫鉤,應與攸關中共權力轉移的「十六大」即將於十一月召開有關。在中共國家主席江澤民逐步淡出政治舞台前,若能在「對台工作」上達成某些突破,對江澤民的歷史評價將大有助益。退一步來說,縱使最後仍因種種困難而通不成,中共亦可藉此向外界表示誠意,而不必再背負「以意識型態阻撓三通」的罪名。

此外,十月二十日錢其琛在出席大陸台聯代表會議時亦強調,中共已將「解決台灣問題,實現統一」作為進入新世紀的三大任務之一;而在此過程中,中共將「寄希望於廣大的台灣同胞」。換句話說,實現三通,的確有「以經促統」、「以商逼政」的經濟統戰意涵在內。即使三通會讓港、澳的轉運功能大幅萎縮,殃及港、澳經濟,中共也在所不惜。

中共的如意算盤撥得響亮,台灣方面又如何呢?

相對於政府回應時的低調謹慎,民間的三通熱度已因此次錢其琛的談話而迅速回溫。「兩岸航線」之說提出後,台灣股市在二星期內大漲五百點,包括中研院院長李遠哲、宏砦q腦董事長施振榮在內的各界人士都認為兩岸直航的契機似已來臨,應該要善加把握。

國民黨立委章孝嚴更在與國內航空業者初步會商後,提出了「公司對公司」、不涉及航權談判的包機模式,希望在今年底前,推動「台北─上海單向試點直航」,以方便大上海區的台商返鄉過春節。

此外,為了爭奪直航後的廣大市場,包括台北、基隆、台中、高雄等各縣市,都已積極向中央表達爭取設置直航(海運或空運)基地之意;陳文茜及朱鳳芝等立委甚至提議「兩市航線」,在中央授權下,將直航權下放各縣市。民間、地方一頭熱,已使得游內閣在操作三通議題時備感壓力。

純以經濟角度而言,兩岸若能三通,對在大陸設廠的六萬多家台商將是一大利多,估計平均海運成本可節省六成以上,如果搭機從台北到上海,則可從七小時大幅縮減到一個半小時。目前台灣每年進出大陸三百五十萬人次,換算下來,節省的效益驚人。

除了實質效益外,三通還象徵兩岸經貿關係全面正常化,對於吸引外商留在台灣極有助益。最近台北歐洲商會公布了今年度的對政府建議書,其中便強調台灣必須加速開放三通,才能在大中華經濟區內爭取扮演更關鍵角色,以避免淪於被全球經貿體系邊緣化的命運。

三通茲事體大,各方意見難以統一,在立法院審查的「兩岸人民關係條例修正草案」料將引起激辯,而即將於十一月底公布的陸委會兩岸通航評估報告,更是觀察政策走向的重點。

當然,天下的決策都是利弊參半,不論通與不通,政府都應該提出一份清楚的說帖,以平息各界的爭議與疑惑。讓三通不僅是通往兩岸和解與繁榮的可能途徑,更藉此調適、整合內部,讓台灣以更好的體質、更強的凝聚力,迎向未來挑戰。

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EN

PRC Comments Bring Direct Links Issue Back to Center Stage

Laura Li /tr. by Phil Newell

The issue of direct links between Taiwan and mainland China-especially shipping and travel without (as now) having to pass through a third territory-was out of the public eye for a while, but is once again a focus of intensive discussion as a result of recent comments by PRC vice premier Qian Qichen. Can direct links (also called "the three links" in Chinese), long seen as a key indicator of cross-strait haggling, really be "depoliticized"? Will the friendly atmosphere generated by this gesture be fleeting, or can the two sides really move toward a more lasting harmony?


On October 15, a group from the ROC headquarters of the World League for Freedom and Democracy, led by former Legislative Yuan vice-speaker Yao Eng-chi, met in Beijing with PRC vice premier Qian Qichen. During their talks Qian stated that there is no need to specifically designate direct maritime and air routes between Taiwan and mainland China as being either "domestic" or "international," but that these could simply be defined as "cross-strait."

Thereafter, on several occasions, Qian and other ranking PRC officials emphasized "separating economics and politics" in cross-strait issues. That is, direct links could proceed without the "one China" precondition. Instead, based on the model used for shipping and travel between Taiwan on one side and Hong Kong or Macao on the other, non-governmental actors could negotiate directly among themselves, with the government playing only a facilitating role. However, Qian insisted that if the two governments were to resume dialogue, then Taiwan would have to "recognize one China" as a precondition.

ROC president Chen Shui-bian's initial response was to "welcome" Qian's comments about how to define direct links, and to see these remarks as a friendly gesture from the PRC. He said that his administration has always made direct links an important policy goal, but that it has been necessary to move cautiously in the absence of congenial talks between the two sides in order to ensure that Taiwan is not "demeaned, localized, or marginalized" and that national security and the national interest are taken into account.

Premier Yu Shyi-kun, meanwhile, stressed that "direct links are not a panacea for Taiwan's economic ills," and hoped that people would not have unrealistic expectations for the three links. Taking Hong Kong as an example, he notes that it enjoys virtually obstacle-free economic relations with the PRC, but this has not saved it from its current crises of collapsing real estate prices, rising unemployment, and business bankruptcies. He said that focusing on the three links is not as important as improving Taiwan's investment climate so that firms will keep their core operations in-and their attachments to-Taiwan.

The fact that the PRC is clearly stating its willingness to separate direct links from politics at this juncture is probably related to the upcoming 16th National Congress of the Communist Party in November, at which there is supposed to be a succession in the leadership. If PRC president Jiang Zemin can achieve a breakthrough in what the PRC calls "Taiwan work" before he withdraws from the center of the political stage, this would enhance his standing in history. On the other hand, if for various reasons direct links remain closed, the PRC can nonetheless argue to third parties that it has demonstrated goodwill, so that it is no longer held responsible for "blocking direct links for ideological reasons."

It is important to also note, however, that on October 20 Qian Qichen commented that the PRC has made "resolving the Taiwan problem and achieving reunification" one of the three main tasks of the new century, and in this process the PRC will "pin its hopes on the broad mass of compatriots in Taiwan." From this point of view, opening direct links certainly embraces the PRC strategies of "promoting unification through economics" and "applying pressure to the political authorities in Taiwan by winning allies among business elites." Moreover, the PRC seems willing to proceed with direct links even though these would greatly cut into transshipment trade in Hong Kong and Macao, thereby damaging the economies of those two places.

In contrast to the low-key response of the ROC government, the private sector has responded to Qian Qichen's remarks with renewed enthusiasm for direct links. After he proposed defining direct links as simply "cross-strait" shipping and travel, the Taiwan stock market rose 500 points in a week. Meanwhile figures from across the social spectrum, including Academia Sinica president Lee Yuan-tseh and Acer Group chairman Stan Shih, opined that the government should make good use of this opportunity to open direct links.

Kuomintang legislator Chang Hsiao-yen held preliminary discussions with representatives of the airline industry in Taiwan, after which they proposed a charter-flight model of company-to-company interaction which would not involve negotiation of air rights. Chang said they hoped to begin trial one-way runs from Shanghai to Taipei by the end of this year, so that travel would be much easier for Taiwanese businessmen hoping to return home for the next Lunar New Year holiday. The likelihood of this was much reduced, however, when the Executive Yuan declared that the government would have to play the guiding role in "direct travel under any guise."

Meanwhile, local governments hoping to grab a piece of the expanded market that would result from direct links are seeking permission from the central government to establish bases for direct travel and transport by sea or air. Legislators have even proposed "city-to-city links" in which authority over direct travel and transport would be delegated by the central government to local governments. The rapid response by both the private sector and local governments has put pressure on the Yu cabinet as it seeks to deal with the direct links issue.

Purely from an economic perspective, direct links between the two sides would be of great benefit to the estimated 60,000 Taiwanese firms with operations in the PRC. It is estimated that cross-strait shipping costs would fall by 60% on average. An air journey from Taipei to Shanghai would be reduced from the current seven hours (stopping over in Hong Kong or Macao) to 90 minutes. When you consider that Taiwanese make 3.5 million round trips per year to the mainland, the total savings in time and money would be astonishing.

Besides questions of efficiency, the opening of direct links would also symbolize the full normalization of cross-strait economic relations, which is very important to keeping Taiwan attractive to foreign investors. Recently the European Chamber of Commerce Taipei released its annual recommendations to the government, one of which is that Taiwan must speed up opening of direct links. The ECCT argues that this is the only way that Taiwan will be able to play an even more important role in the Greater China economy, and avoid the fate of being marginalized in the process of globalization.

What will happen now? Keep an eye on, for one thing, the draft amendments to the statute covering relations between the people on the two sides of the strait, now before the legislature, which should spark enormous controversy. The evaluation report on direct travel and transport currently being prepared by the Mainland Affairs Council, due out at the end of November, will be another important indicator.

Whatever the government decides, it should clearly explain itself to the public. Direct links may be more than just a potential pathway to peace and prosperity for the two sides of the Taiwan Strait: They may also present an opportunity to harmonize opinion in Taiwan, so that Taiwan will be even stronger and more united for challenges to come.

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