The Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) signed this past June between China and Taiwan has already become a source of political controversy. For some, the arrangement all but ensures Taiwan’s deepening ultimate political subordination to Beijing. For others, ECFA could provide Taiwan the freedom to solidify robust commercial ties with Asia and the rest of the world to ward off pressure from Beijing. Taiwan may thus be able to resume the broad relationship with the world at-large that it once had.
To reflect on these broader themes, Professor William Rowe of Johns Hopkins University — a leading historian of late imperial China — addressed Taiwan’s socio-economic relations with Asia in the 18th and 19th centuries.