Economic integration and the cross-Taiwan Strait reconciliation
ABSTRACT In this paper, I aim to explain a puzzle why economic integration leads to political separation in cross-Strait exchange. Being a political economist heavily influenced by Marxist tenets, I argue two things here. First of all, the base structure, or the economy, is an indispensible element of the politics of cross-Strait integration. More importantly, I argue that the effect of economic integration is an issue of class-based analysis, and accordingly, the struggle between class alliances in varied sub-national regions. In fact, the prevailing model of cross-Strait economic integration resulted in both social and regional polarization in both Taiwan and China. Only small number of people and regions benefit, and most of the rest people and regions suffer. The arch criminal of the injustice was the zoning techniques as the common practice of spatial selective disclosure in neo-liberal discourse in both sides of the Strait to attract inward investments. Finally, I argue that the solution to the cross-Strait reconciliation resides in fixing the state’s failure. On the one hand, it has to allow the Right hand (capital accumulation) of the state to function. Instead of playing a role of subsidizing capital to hinder it from sneaking to China, the state should render the implementation of globalization strategies easy for the capital. On the other hand, the state should design an institutional mechanism to render the trickle-down effect, both socially and geographically, possible and effective. Rather than following neo-liberal discourse and preferential policies to serve big business group, the cross-Strait integration should take care of the interests of the small and medium sized firms and obsolete regions with taxation and redistribution policies. Only by doing so, a sound and just infrastructure of economic integration can be expectable for the cross-Strait reconciliation. The real political reconciliation should be built on a class-cum-region base.
Jinn-yuh Hsu, the former editor-in-chief of the Leftist journal, Taiwan: A Radical Quarterly in Social Studies, has focused research on the inconstant geographies of capitalism since he started his research on Taiwan’s high-tech development in 1995. His current research projects engage in investigating the spatial politics of the interaction between economic neo-liberalization and political neo-populism in Taiwan after the late-1980s transformation. He is active in international critical geography community. In addition to sitting in the steering committee of the International Critical Geography Group (ICGG), he also organized a regional meeting of East Asian Alternative Geographers in Taipei in 2006.