Power And Dollar

How a Presidential Candidate Promise Puts Country at Corner

Mainland China and Taiwan started their first negotiation in a decade.  A big topic of this negotiation is the direct flight between two sides.  This negotiation serves as an example to America how election campaign promises should be carefully drafted since the presidential election is under way, for instance the date of Iraqi withdrawal, whether to negotiate with Iran, North Korea, Cuba and the like.


This negotiation is the first priority for President Ma of Taiwan since one of his campaign promises is direct flight starting on July 1 of 2008.  


This campaign promise possibly led the negotiation team to have a very short time frame to draft their agenda and options during the negotiation and subsequently affect the negotiation result.  


Passenger flights are of top priority since the photo op of passengers getting off the plane is too valuable.  Therefore, the goods transportation is likely to be off the table.  However, that can be of higher importance to Taiwan.


Furthermore, Taiwan possibly left other aviation priorities off the tables.  Here are a few:


1)      Can flights fly to a second destination within the territory?  Example:  can a flight from Taiwan to Shanghai fly to Beijing afterwards?

2)      Can flights fly to another country afterwards?  Example:  can a flight from Taiwan to Shanghai fly to Japan afterwards?

3)      Can airlines establish maintenance hubs in the other’s territory?  


All these questions actually benefit more for the Taiwan side than the mainland side.  However, once a negotiation is over, another aviation negotiation probably will take another few years while the governments tackle other big political items, such as sea ports.  Thus, the next aviation negotiation probably will begin with another president term at best.


Now why are they important?


For the first question, Taiwan is a much smaller space. It has a lot fewer air traffic nodes.  The gain for Mainland airlines is actually small, especially the number of flights and airlines are supposed to be reciprocal in aviation negotiations.  However, Mainland China has another 100 cities each with a population of 1 million.  The gain for Taiwan aviation industry will take years to realize financially.  


For the second question, President Ma of Taiwan’s business plan is to be the bridge to China for the West, analogous to UK to continental Europe for America.  For that to realize, the first item to tackle is for Taiwan to become a transportation hub.  The second question becomes vital.


The negotiation is about flight between 2 sides and not about domestic aviation market.  However, having a hub in the other side is beachhead to fight the domestic market.  Since the mainland China’s domestic aviation is the ultimate price for Taiwan aviation industry, if economic integration is to follow through, eliminating this big hurdle is important.  The scale of a hub is of course negligible at this stage.  However, this will be an expensive item to negotiation in the future.  While the goodwill is overloaded, this should be item to cash in right now, right here.  


Aviation business has a long investment cycle.  Aviation manufacturing has defense implication.  Taiwan needs to muster every advantage at every step to prevent a big swallow by Mainland China in the future.  Therefore, this third question will add a lot of points to Taiwan.  If ignored, Taiwan will give up a great asset for a future show down of unification negotiation.


Because of a promise on a date of direct flight, Taiwan probably forgot a basket of items.  American voters have to see if the candidates are giving promises that will put the future presidency at an inflexible corner.


June 12, 2008 - Posted by | Barack Obama, China, Current Events, economics, election, Election 2008, John McCain, mccain, obama, opinion, politics, Thoughts, wordpress-political-blogs, 台灣, 中國

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