Posted by: Bruce Einhorn on April 11, 2008
The election of Ma Ying-jeou as Taiwan’s president might be starting to pay off for the Taiwanese economy. Ma recovered the presidency for the Kuomintang last month after pledging to improve ties with Beijing, ties that had suffered during the eight years under Chen Shui-bian, whom the Chinese detest because of his pro-Taiwanese indepenence leanings. Ma won in a landslide and today Standard & Poor’s (like BW, owned by McGraw-Hill) upgraded the outlook on Taiwan’s long-term credit rating from negative to stable. A key factor in the change, according to S&P, is the “diminishing risk of cross-straits tension.”
Beijing-Taipei ties might get another boost this weekend. China is hosting its annual Boao Forum, a Davos-like gathering of political and business leaders in Hainan (the big island in the South China Sea to the east of Vietnam) and there’s a good chance that Taiwan’s vice-president-elect, Vincent Siew, will meet Chinese President Hu Jintao at the meeting. That, in the words of AFP, “what would be the highest-level contact ever between Beijing and Taipei.”
At a time when the Olympic torch relay is under seige in the West and politicians including Hillary Clinton are calling for a boycott of the opening ceremony of the Beijing games to protest China’s policies in Tibet, Beijing could sure use a bit of good news from Taiwan. The Taiwanese are still at a big disadvantage when negotiating with the mainland, of course, but Beijing’s current difficulties might provide Ma’s new government with a bit of leverage.