China and Taiwan’s relationship over the years can be best categorized as “status quo,” a term frequently used by cross-strait analysts. Ever since the Kuomingtang’s arrival on the island after Mao Zedong’s Communists took over the mainland in China, the two sides have been locked in fundamental disagreement over the legitimacy of Taiwan’s democratic government. As part of their “one China policy,” Chinese leaders consider the island as part of China. Taiwan on the other hand, rule it as a separate country.
Enormously boosting Taiwan’s cause is the United States, who openly support her right to defend herself against outside nations. It’s a chilly arrangement that is periodically tested by U.S. arms sales to Taiwan and occasional independence-centered rhetoric that has yet to escalate into an armed conflict, the reasons for which are pretty obvious.
Despite the fragility of the relationship, Taiwan and China have practically put the independence issue out of the picture, leaving verbal disagreements at just that, focusing instead to strengthen their relationship through economic ties. Both China and Chinese Tapei are separate entries in the WTO, and over last few years, both countries have allowed banks and various financial service providers to operate within each other’s borders. In 2009, the two signed a historic economic agreement that will move further to “gradually reduce and remove trade and investment barriers and create a fair environment.”
In classic Chinese fashion, Taiwan and China today continue to put the conflicting legitimacy claims far away in the distance. Choosing to maintain this status quo, delaying sources of conflict in favor of promoting mutually beneficial economics, has put the two on their best footing in cross-Strait relations history.
Of course, there’s nothing good ole’ basketball to improve relations, either. Sina is reporting that two-time Super Basketball League champion Taiwan Beer (台湾啤酒) has applied to join the CBA and if everything goes OK, will be an official expansion team in 2011-12. Why so eager to join? The Taiwan-based SBL has struggled to match the growing salaries it’s cross-Strait neighbor can pay players, and has thus been finding it increasingly difficult to keep its best local players at home. Last season, the league averaged less than 1,000 spectators per game and teams are finding it difficult to stay profitable.
The last Taiwanese team to participate in the CBA’s top division, the Tapei Sina Lions, played for two years in the 2001-02 and 2002-03 seasons, before removing themselves from the league, citing an inability to adapt to the CBA on the whole. One major reason was that Tapei’s home-court was placed on mainland China in Suzhou, and not in Taiwan. Beijing Youth Daily wonders if Taiwan Beer’s potential CBA home-court would suffer the same fate, with Zhejiang being a potential spot. (H/T hoopCHINA)
Bai Linshi, Director of CBA League Offices, says the league hasn’t received any formal application as of this morning.
This is far from a done deal obviously, but I think this should be pushed through based on the prospect of adding a team called “Beer.” Who doesn’t want more beer? Count me as very in for more beer, as well as for some cross-Strait hoops.