Goodwill gestures outlined in annual Shanghai-Taipei forum amid cross-Straits tensions
Published: Dec 02, 2021 12:13 AM
Shanghai Photo: VCG

Shanghai Photo: VCG

The annual Shanghai-Taipei city forum was held on Wednesday despite the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authorities' frequent provocative acts. Experts said the forum, a hard-won channel of communication across the Taiwan Straits, shows the kindness from the mainland and the goodwill for peaceful development of the Chinese people cross the Straits. 

Due to the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic, the 2021 forum titled New Economy, New Development, was held virtually. Gong Zheng, Mayor of Shanghai, and his Taipei counterpart, Ko Wen-je, delivered speeches at the online forum. 

"The two sides of the Taiwan Straits belong to one family. Shanghai will, as always, care and support the development of Taiwan compatriots and Taiwan enterprises in Shanghai," Gong emphasized. 

Ko said both the pandemic and the cross-Straits stalemate cannot last forever, calling for joint efforts across the Taiwan Straits to deal with the problems through open talks and mutual inclusion.

"The experience of the forum showed the right way to go: Communication is better than disconnection and friendliness is better than hatred," Ko said. 

However, the DPP authorities have continued their moves against the mainland. On Tuesday, Taiwan's "mainland affairs council" reportedly passed a revised draft to tighten the monitoring of activities of mainland enterprises in Taiwan to prevent the mainland from allegedly "stealing" talents of scientific technologies in the island.

The DPP is unable to communicate with the mainland due to its secessionist stance. On the contrary, the communication between Taipei and the mainland shows the incompetence of the DPP authorities and the differences between them and other parties on the island on cross-strait issues, Zhang Wensheng, Deputy Dean of the Taiwan Research Institute at Xiamen University.

The forum is a channel for cross-Straits communication and it shows that, as long as Taiwan authorities do not seek secession, the mainland is willing to open up for communication and dialogue regardless of who is in power in Taiwan, Zhang said.

The DPP authorities regard the mainland as an enemy and have taken restrictive measures in economic, academic and people-to-people exchanges, which are unfavorable for Taiwan residents, Zhang said, noting the fact that the DPP is incapable of completely restricting exchanges with the mainland. 

Exports from the island of Taiwan to the Chinese mainland accounted for about 44 percent of its total in 2020. Trade between the two sides reached $208.82 billion in the first eight months of 2021 growing by more than 30 percent, the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council said on September 15.  

Launched in 2010, the Shanghai-Taipei forum is held in rotation between the two cities and has been an important communication platform. 

After three memorandums of understanding (MOUs) on zoo exchanges, national orchestra and innovative technology signed Wednesday, the two cities totaled 39 agreements up to now broadening their cooperation, from economy, culture, sports, senior care and urban governance to pandemic control and innovative technology. 

Shaw Chong-hai, a columnist and former head of the School of Social Sciences at the Chinese Culture University in Taiwan, told the Global Times on Wednesday that the forum is an opportunity for Shanghai and Taipei to learn from each other.

In 2019, when Ko attended the forum in Shanghai, he visited the Integrated Urban Operation Management Center in Pudong New Area, which inspired him to start the construction of the Big Data Center in Taipei after returning to Taiwan, Shaw said. 

Shortly after the forum was held in 2010, the Shanghai Hongqiao Airport and Taipei Songshan Airport launched direct flights, forming a "one-day life cycle." 

In addition, civil affairs organizations of the two cities have learned from each other's experience in elderly care. 

Statistics show that from January to September 2021, 815 New Taiwan-funded enterprises were registered in Shanghai, bringing the total number to 15,974.  

Despite the tensions across the Taiwan Straits, the forum shows that the pursuit of peace and exchanges between the mainland and Taiwan is still the general trend and the popular will, Shaw said. 

Despite the anger at Taiwan secessionists, people in the mainland actually have the goodwill for a peaceful development across the Taiwan Straits and the two sides should move towards win-win relations, analysts said.