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AIIB application tests Taiwan’s political openness

(Global Times)    09:50, March 31, 2015

During a brief meeting with President Xi Jinpingon Saturday, Vincent Siew, the head of Taiwan's delegation to the Boao Forum as honorary chairman of the Cross-Straits Common Market Foundation, expressed Taiwan's wish to join the Chinese mainland-initiated Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Siew conveyed the message at the behest of Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou, who said on Thursday that he is in favor of joining the bank and Taiwan should actively participate in it.

The island's interest in potential membership of the AIIB has received a positive response from the mainland. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters that the mainland is willing to strengthen communication with Taiwan and when it comes to the name Taiwan could use to participate in the AIIB, it could be in accordance with international practices.

As of Monday, 44 economies, including staunch allies of the US have applied to join the AIIB as founding members. Taiwan faces a dilemma over whether to apply for membership of the bank. On one hand, it is afraid of being marginalized in the new round of regional economic integration, thus not wanting to miss the opportunity; on the other, it's hesitant to move forward because of divisions within the island and fear of US objections.

The mainland holds an open attitude toward Taiwan joining the AIIB. For many years, it has continually reiterated that it is willing to share development opportunities with Taiwan. The obstacles which could hinder Taiwan's possible membership in the AIIB lie in the island itself, rather than in the mainland. Taiwan's main opposition Democratic Progressive Party so far has not divulged whether or not it endorses the idea of joining the AIIB. Some scholars have forecast that there will be strong resistance from opposition parties and radical activists.

Some in Taiwan are stuck with narrow-minded political views. They have an unwarranted anxiety that closer ties with the mainland could eventually trap the island. This sabotages cross-Straits economic cooperation and blocks the economic growth of Taiwan. Protests against the cross-Straits service and trade pact last year are an example.

It's noticeable that regional economic integration is a global trend and the mainland is one of the main driving forces. Many major economies have overcome political suspicions and actively joined the AIIB. The reason why Taiwan has long been plagued by a stagnant economy is that it is not open enough to cooperate with the mainland.

Participation in the AIIB will help Taiwan tap business opportunities in infrastructure investments in regions like Central Asia and Europe. If the island fails to seize this opportunity, it will miss the next wave of development.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Du Mingming,Bianji)

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