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Jan — Apr 2014
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A Breakthrough and a Deadlock

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David G. Brown
Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies
Kevin Scott
CSIS Contributor

In February, officials from Beijing and Taiwan met publicly in their official capacities for the first time since 1949.   Both sides characterized this breakthrough as a step forward in cross-strait relations. However in Taipei, partisan maneuvering in committee and an unprecedented occupation of the Legislative Yuan by students created a deadlock blocking approval of the Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement concluded last June. While Beijing and Taipei have tried to maintain progress, these domestic developments in Taiwan represent a serious challenge both for President Ma and Beijing.

Wang-Zhang meeting

In a milestone in cross-strait relations, Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Minister Wang Yu-chi visited Nanjing and Shanghai on Feb. 11-14. He met Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) Director Zhang Zhijun in Nanjing on Feb. 11 and in Shanghai on Feb. 13. The symbolism of the visit was perhaps more important than the substance: the highest-level meeting between officials of the two sides, the first visit to China by a sitting MAC chairman, Wang and Zhang addressed each other by their official titles, and China’s official Xinhua News Agency referred to “the Taiwan side’s Mainland Affairs Council,” though it did not use either the term “Republic of China (ROC),” which is part of the MAC’S official name, or Wang’s official title of “minister.”

With rumors about secret deals between Taipei and Beijing in Taiwan’s media, Wang Yu-chi briefed LY members on plans for his visit on Jan. 10 and Jan. 27. The LY took an unusual step on Jan. 14 by passing a resolution forbidding Wang from endorsing any document mentioning Beijing’s “one China framework” or its opposition to Taiwanese independence, and from discussing “one China” or a peace agreement. The Ma administration has consistently avoided discussing these topics, though they have been raised recently in Track 2 discussions. Wang was also required to debrief the LY following the trip.

The visit was formally announced on Jan. 28. In a press briefing, Wang Yu-chi said his goals were to promote interaction between MAC and TAO and to deepen mutual understanding. Specific issues for discussion included a “communication mechanism” between MAC and TAO, Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) representative offices, Taiwan’s participation in regional economic integration, and medical insurance for exchange students. In a shift from its previous focus on a “one China framework” for cross-strait interaction, the TAO announced that the visit would be made on the basis of trust developed under the “1992 Consensus.”

The reported substance of the meeting on Feb. 11 closely followed Wang’s Jan. 28 briefing. Wang and Zhang agreed to establish a communications mechanism between MAC and TAO, which Wang defined as direct telephone calls between “cross-strait officials at equal levels of authority.” Wang reported that he pushed for humanitarian visits to detainees by officers of the yet to be established SEF and ARATS representative offices, but that further communication was necessary. Zhang suggested allowing media outlets to set up permanent offices in each other’s territory, which is ironic as Beijing blocked reporters from Radio Free Asia and Taiwan’s Apple Daily from entering China to report on the meeting. Wang responded by noting Taiwan’s interest in an equal flow of information between the two sides.

The TAO reported that Zhang urged passage of the CSSTA, and looked forward to concluding the Merchandise Trade Agreement (MTA) and other Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) follow-up talks. Wang expressed Taiwan’s desire to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), and said that if the two sides can approach regional integration together, support in Taiwan for ECFA follow-up negotiations will be greater. Wang invited Zhang to visit Taiwan, to which Zhang responded positively.

On Feb. 12, Wang visited Sun Yat-sen’s mausoleum and noted that the Republic of China “has been in existence for 103 years.” Mainland media reported the visit but not this remark, and a TAO spokesman avoided mentioning it in a press conference. In a speech at Nanjing University, Wang did not use the term ROC, but made several references to Taiwan’s democratic government and called for increased exchanges among young people. Wang referred to the “revitalization of the Chinese ethnic group (or nation 中华民族)” which has been promoted by Xi Jinping. He said that Taiwan has maintained traditional Chinese culture, and that the people of Taiwan hope that the renaissance of Chinese culture will not be focused on military power, that it will build a prosperous society, and have a positive impact on the world.

In Shanghai on Feb. 13, Wang met Chinese scholars and some local Taiwanese organizations, and once again met Zhang Zhijun. While the topic of a Ma-Xi meeting had not come up in Nanjing, it was raised in Shanghai with each side reportedly stating their existing positions. After returning to Taiwan, Wang said Zhang brought it up, and that Wang referred to Ma as the “president” in this conversation.

The visit pleased both sides.  Xi Jinping told Lien Chan on Feb. 18 that the meeting was “significant,” and the TAO called it “an important step.” Underlining this approval, on Feb. 27, ARATS Chairman Chen Deming met Wang Yu-chi in Taipei and greeted him as “Minister Wang,” and Xinhua again referred to Wang as the responsible person on the Taiwan side’s “Mainland Affairs Council.” Ma Ying-jeou had said earlier it would be important and a first step toward mutual non-denial of each side’s jurisdiction.

Elsewhere, reaction to the visit was generally positive as well.  MAC polling, both before and after the visit, showed that over 60 percent of respondents supported it and direct government-to-government contacts.  Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chair Su Tseng-chang said that Wang and Zhang’s use of titles was “a kind of progress,” but noted that the discussions did not focus on the DPP’s priorities. Tsai Ing-wen, the presumptive next chair of the DPP, claimed, “the Taiwanese people’s anxiety over future cross-strait relations appears to have risen after the meeting.” She emphasized the Chinese media’s failure to use Wang’s official title or the term “Republic of China.”

Prior to this meeting, Beijing had insisted that all meetings between officials be under the unofficial ARATS-SEF umbrella.  With this meeting and plans for continued MAC-TAO interaction, it can be inferred that Beijing is acknowledging, at least tacitly, the Taipei government’s jurisdiction over its territory and people.  However, acknowledging the sovereignty of the “ROC” is something Beijing did not do and is not likely to do in the foreseeable future.

Prospects for a Ma-Xi meeting

Both sides referred to a possible future meeting between Ma Ying-jeou and Xi Jinping in the months before the Wang-Zhang meeting, with Ma himself saying on Jan. 27 that he hoped conditions would enable such a meeting as soon as possible. Wang Yu-chi and others repeatedly said that the 2014 APEC Economic Leaders Meeting, to be held in Beijing, is the best place for such a meeting, as participants represent “economies” rather than “states” and issues of sovereignty and titles could be skirted.  However, the Foreign Ministry in Beijing made clear Beijing’s position that the APEC meeting would not be an appropriate venue. In early March Zhang Zhijun, his deputy Sun Yafu, and ARATS director Chen Deming made comments suggesting that a meeting could take place in a third territory. MAC officials continued to argue that APEC was the best location, but Zhang Zhijun was dismissive: “we should find another place,” he told reporters in Beijing.

Xi’s Chinese dream

Xi Jinping, in his capacity as party general secretary, met Kuomintang (KMT) honorary chairman Lien Chan in Beijing on Feb. 18. Xi used the occasion to make an important statement of his views on cross-strait relations under the title “The Chinese Dream of Jointly Completing the Great Rejuvenation of the Chinese Nation.” Xi elaborated on why he frequently speaks of “the two sides of the straits being one family” citing the usual themes of common blood and shared culture.  He also said the mainland respects the lifestyle and social system that Taiwan’s people have chosen for themselves. He expressed confidence that by working together they could overcome obstacles to the peaceful development of cross-strait relations.  He cited the history of how China had overcome its weakness since the late 19th century and recounted that, as a colony of Japan, Taiwanese had shared in the past period of humiliation.  This means, he said, that Taiwan’s future is closely linked to the Chinese rejuvenation dream.   While one can question the accuracy of Xi’s views about Taiwan, it is important to understand how he thinks, and experts have said that this statement reflected his personal views.

Xi told Lien that cross-strait ties can be improved on the basis of the “1992 Consensus,” and shared opposition to Taiwan independence and can be deepened by reaching a shared understanding of the “one China Framework.” Lien told Xi that when the two sides talk about the “one China framework,” it should be understood that Taiwan is referring to the Republic of China. Xi also indicated he will not hold a grudge against DPP figures who are now “willing to promote peaceful development of cross-strait relations.”

Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement

Legislative Yuan approval of the Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement (CSSTA) is a high priority for the Ma administration.  Blocking the agreement is an equally high priority for the DPP.  In December, LY Speaker Wang Jin-pyng had announced that committee consideration would not begin until the agreed series of hearings were completed.  Although the LY session began in February, consideration of the agreement could not begin because the last hearing, arranged by the DPP, was scheduled for March 11.  The article-by-article review of the agreement was to begin in committee on March 12.   However, the DPP co-convener of the committee and opposition legislators used a variety of tactics to try to control committee consideration, with the result that no progress was made.  Outside the LY, student and others demonstrated daily against the agreement.  When obstruction continued the following week, the KMT co-convener of the committee, unable to conduct the review, unilaterally declared March 17 that committee work was concluded and that the agreement would be sent to the LY plenary.

Sunflower student movement

The KMT chairman’s action became the spark for unprecedented action by students.  On the evening of March 18, students climbed over the walls of the LY and occupied the LY chamber, piling chairs against the doors to prevent others from entering.   That night, Secretary-General of the LY Lin Hsi-shan asked that the police be authorized to remove the students, provided that no legislators were harmed.   By the time the police arrived, some DPP legislators were present outside the LY guarding the doors, and in the end, the police wisely gave up the attempt to remove the students.  Later on March 18, Speaker Wang announced that the students would not be forcibly removed.   Their occupation of the LY chamber was to continue for 24 days.

Various attempts were made to persuade the students to leave.  However, things got worse when a group of students tried on March 23 to occupy the Executive Yuan office building.   This time, the police were promptly authorized and acted swiftly, with some injuries but no deaths, to remove the demonstrators from the EY.   A few days later the student leaders announced four demands: adoption of a bill for oversight of cross-strait agreements, postponement of consideration of the CSSTA until after the oversight bill was passed, withdrawal of the current CSSTA from consideration and convening of a constitutional convention to consider political reforms.   President Ma promptly addressed these conditions:  The government would agree to pass an oversight bill, but would not withdraw the CSSTA, which should be considered in tandem with the oversight bill.  The government would convene an economic conference rather than one on constitutional issues. The students rejected Ma’s response and on March 30, a demonstration supporting the students brought, by police estimates, over 100,000 people to the streets in front of the Presidential Office.

On April 6, Speaker Wang went to the LY chamber to meet the students.  Without consultation with the government, Wang promised the students that the LY would adopt an oversight bill before beginning a thorough review of the CSSTA.   The students saw this as a sign of sincerity and decided that after a few more days, they would leave the LY.  On April 10, the students fulfilled this by peacefully departing.

Understanding what motived the students and drew public support is important to assessing the Sunflower movement’s implications for cross-strait relations.   While the movement involved a complex web of interests, some points can be made.   It was the government’s handling of the CSSTA that was the fuse that ignited the demonstrations and occupation.   The students said, with some reason, that the agreement was negotiated in secret, in a “black box,” that the government was unwilling to consider amendments to the CSSTA, and that the KMT convener had improperly sent it to plenary before allowing it to be reviewed.    While the DPP objected to many aspects of the CSSTA and the students had conducted study sessions on the agreement while occupying the LY, their objections were much more about procedure than contents.   The CSSTA would open new opportunities for Taiwan’s relatively competitive service industries in China at a time when China’s reform plan envisages opening the service sector, and it would provide opportunities for additional Chinese investment in Taiwan’s service sector, with the accompanying domestic jobs.  However, to the extent that the content of the CSSTA was an issue, the students and opposition party have focused almost exclusively on the potential risks the CSSTA poses to Taiwan’s domestic service providers and security.

The students’ motivations were twofold.   First, they criticized a government that was seen as “arrogant,” non-transparent (“black”), and unresponsive to public concerns.   A deep distrust of government, President Ma, the KMT and DPP parties, big business, regulators, and generally figures in authority permeated the students’ demands and slogans.  This was reflected in the demand for an oversight bill, which should be passed first, and for a constitutional convention on overall political reform.  One oft-mentioned slogan – “When dictatorship is a fact, revolution is a duty” – captures the reason why the extraordinary step of occupying the democratically elected legislature seemed justified to the students, and to opposition leaders, as an action to defend democracy.

Second, opposition to the CSSTA seemed to symbolize the anxiety that a considerable segment of a divided society feels about the pace and direction of President Ma’s policy toward Beijing.   Many young people and others see relations on a slippery slope leading toward eventual unification.  The government’s lack of transparency fuels suspicions of Ma’s intentions.  Some saw the demonstrations as anti-China.   To the extent the slogans and placards were about cross-strait relations, they focused on protecting Taiwan and preserving its freedoms, and it was this that seems to be behind the broad public support, though how broad is hard to gauge.  In expressing concern about Ma’s cross-strait policy, the students were reflecting rather than changing public opinion.

What was the relationship between the students and the DPP?   It is best to see the Sunflower movement as an independent civil society action.  The students and the opposition shared certain views and goals.  The main leaders were students who had been involved over two years in a series of other demonstrations against a wide variety of government actions unrelated to cross-strait relations, such as the Alliance Against Media Monopoly, the expropriation of aboriginal land, and the illegal construction of wind turbines in Miaoli.   The students were seasoned activists.  When they occupied the LY, DPP legislators helped protect them, the party endorsed their action, Chairman Su called on the public to support them, DPP leaders showed up to support their brief occupation of the EY, and hailed their actions as in defense of democracy.   Some of the student leaders and many of the professors who supported them had been engaged in DPP campaigns, particularly supporting Tsai Ing-wen. Nevertheless, the students acted autonomously and at times distanced themselves from the DPP and Taiwan Solidarity Union.

Speaker Wang played a central role in the events.  His many feuds with President Ma were only intensified last fall when Ma tried unsuccessfully to expel him from the KMT and therewith also from his position as speaker.  Last year, Wang had facilitated the DPP’s tactics to force the government to accept article-by-article review of the CSSTA by the LY.   He announced early on that the students would not be evicted.  When President Ma called a meeting March 21 to decide how to handle the occupation, Wang refused to participate.  Then, without consulting his own party, Wang declared the oversight bill would be considered first.  At each step, Wang acted in ways that benefited the DPP.   Ma and Wang’s deep differences help explain why the governing majority party has been unsuccessful in gaining LY approval of the CSSTA.  Wang undoubtedly felt vindicated when the Taipei District Court concluded on March 19 that the KMT had acted illegally in revoking his party membership.

Following the students’ withdrawal, action in the LY shifted to the oversight bill, with several drafts from the government, opposition, and students to be considered.  Again partisan maneuvering in the same LY committee prevented any consideration of the various drafts.   Meanwhile, the consideration of the CSSTA has been suspended.  Premier Jiang stated in late April that there is no deadline for approval of it.

Beijing’s perspective

Beijing wisely said little during the student actions.  The TAO spokesman has highlighted the CSSTA’s benefits for Taiwan.  TAO Minister Zhang reportedly told Taiwan visitors in late March that he was confused and concerned about the delay of the CSSTA.   When rumors surfaced in the Taipei press that Beijing was open to renegotiating the CSSTA, the TAO twice refuted these rumors saying there was no precedent for a renegotiation and that as the SEF and ARTS had been authorized to negotiate the agreement, it should be implemented as is.

As expected, the propaganda bureaucracy blocked reporting on the students’ occupation of the LY in Chinese media.   Also, these events were not a significant topic on Weibo.  Consequently, few in China know the story.  Anecdotal information indicates that scholars in Beijing who follow Taiwan developments believe that the student movement was manipulated by the DPP.

During the occupation of the LY, the TAO announced that the planned return visit of Minister Zhang to Taiwan would be postponed.  Nevertheless, Beijing and Taipei have continued meetings on other agreements. In late April, in hints of Beijing’s response to the student movement, Zhang said that Beijing would listen to different voices and redouble efforts to consult sincerely and patiently to overcome difficulties.

Cross-strait developments

Now-normal interactions between SEF and ARATS continued among the high-profile theatrics of the Wang-Zhang meeting and Sunflower protests. A SEF-ARATS review meeting on Feb. 20-21 resulted in agreement to improve the implementation of nine of the 19 existing cross-strait pacts including those on food safety and crime fighting, which the DPP had asked to be discussed in the Wang-Zhang talks. At this meeting Beijing reportedly agreed to consider allowing mainland tourists to make transit stops in Taiwan en route to a third destination; this would boost Taiwan’s plan to turn the Taoyuan airport into a regional hub.

The 10th SEF-ARATS meeting took place in Taipei on Feb. 26-27 and resulted in the 20th and 21st cross-strait agreements, on meteorology and seismic monitoring. The two sides agreed that the 11th meeting, in the second half of 2014, would address the Merchandise Trade Agreement (MTA), a dispute resolution mechanism, investment protection, flight safety standards, and a tax agreement. Negotiations on the tax agreement are almost completed, but SEF announced that it planned to communicate with the public on concerns about the agreement.

The fifth round of negotiations on the establishment of reciprocal SEF-ARATS representative offices was held on March 20-22. Wang Yu-chi announced that China had finally agreed to allow SEF officers to visit Taiwanese detained in the mainland, though the details remain to be worked out. This is a potential major breakthrough that could pave the way to a formal agreement on the offices.

While the occupation of the LY and the uncertain fate of the CSSTA do not seem to have dulled Beijing’s enthusiasm for new agreements, continued delay of the CSSTA will have some spillover effects. At the 14th public hearing on the MTA in late March, a MAC vice minister said that it would “not be feasible” to sign the agreement before the CSSTA is passed. He also noted that the scale of the merchandise agreement might be modest, in part because of the two sides’ reluctance to open their markets to foreign agricultural goods and other items.

Regional economic integration

The Ma administration accelerated its rhetorical and organizing campaigns to join the TPP and RCEP. Membership is not sought primarily for dignity and international participation, but is a matter of economic survival. President Ma and other officials explained the need for Taiwan to join the agreements at every opportunity to domestic, Chinese, and international audiences, presenting the CSSTA as a necessary first step in its strategy. It has created an interagency task force to manage Taiwan’s efforts to pursue liberalization. Former Vice President Vincent Siew is leading a committee of business leaders who will provide input and the government is seeking to establish Free Economic Pilot Zones to test liberalization measures. In an address to the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei on March 11, Ma said that he had set a July deadline for the government to complete the necessary preparatory work.

Taiwan gained rhetorical support from the United States. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel said in Senate testimony that the US welcomes Taiwan’s interest in TPP, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kin Moy added in testimony to the House that the US is engaging Taiwan on economic liberalization initiatives. Taiwan media reported an anonymous official of the US Trade Representative on April 11, shortly after US-Taiwan talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), saying that the United States welcomes Taiwan’s interest, but emphasizing the high standards of liberalization that TPP is developing.

In his March 23 address to the nation on the CSSTA, President Ma said that failure to pass the CSSTA will “certainly affect” Taiwan’s prospects for TPP and RCEP membership. While many observers including US officials have pointed out there is no direct connection between the CSSTA and TPP, there is an indirect relationship. Accession to both agreements will depend to some extent on political goodwill from China. While the CSSTA is something of a special case because it involves China, the protests reflect in part some reluctance to liberalize trade. Finally, a failure to ratify negotiated agreements will cause other nations to think twice before engaging Taiwan in serious negotiations.

DPP struggles to develop a China policy

On Jan. 9 the DPP released a provisional summary report of its 2014 China Policy Review, a milestone in the party’s nearly yearlong effort to assess its China policy. While the tone was somewhat friendlier to China than previous statements, the report did not redefine policy in any substantial way. It did not reject current and future agreements between Taiwan and China, though it called for more monitoring and transparency, and it proposed increased interaction between civil society organizations and a more welcoming environment for Chinese visitors to Taiwan. Otherwise it was mostly defensive. As if to demonstrate, on Jan. 14 Su Tseng-chang compared cross-strait relations to a man and a seagull on the beach: if the man (China) pursued the seagull (Taiwan), the seagull would likely fly away.

From Beijing’s view, the report was unsatisfactory as it upheld the DPP’s 1999 Resolution on Taiwan’s Future, which the report said is accepted “by most of the people in Taiwan.” Beijing equates the resolution with the pursuit of de jure independence, and a TAO spokesman criticized the report’s adherence to “one country on each side of the Strait” and “Taiwan independence” perspectives.

Some new ideas were discussed during the review process, including Frank Hsieh Chang-ting’s “two constitutions, different interpretations” and Ker Chien-ming’s proposal to “freeze” the 1999 resolution, but these were not included in the report. Hsieh in particular was unhappy, noting that the DPP’s own polls show that its approach to China enjoys little public support and that if the party “wants to return to power, it must change its China policy as soon as possible.” Tsai Ing-wen’s idea of seeking “internal consensus” was included as “the basis for cross-strait dialogue.”

Shortly after the release of the report, former Minister of Finance Lin Chuan led a delegation of DPP figures who are close to Tsai to China to discuss economic issues, and former MAC Chairman Chen Ming-tong led a different group. The party’s China Affairs Committee held another meeting on March 13, but it did not add anything new to the discussion.

On April 14, both Su Tseng-Chang and Frank Hsieh announced that they would not run in the May 25 election for the DPP chairmanship, leaving the door open for Tsai. There is pressure within the party to separate the chairmanship from the party’s nominee for the January 2016 presidential election; rather than retreating, Su and Hsieh could be looking ahead to that contest.

Looking ahead

Opposition delay of the oversight bill will probably kill any possibility of LY consideration of the CSSTA during the current LY session. When it might subsequently be taken up is quite uncertain. Beijing will want to sustain forward momentum, but the deadlock has already delayed some cross-strait developments. How it will impact calculations about a possible Xi-Ma meeting remains uncertain. Beijing and Taipei will have to decide how to handle the negotiations over SEF/ARATS offices and the MTA. An oversight mechanism for the LY may create opportunities for one party or the other to frustrate cross-strait initiatives in the long term.

Jan. 3, 2014: Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) Minister Chang Chia-Juch says Taipei prioritizes the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Jan. 9, 2014: Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) releases China Affairs Committee (CAC) summary report.

Jan. 10, 2014: Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) spokesman criticizes DPP report.

Jan. 10, 2014:  Mainland Afffairs Council (MAC) Chairman Wang Yu-chi briefs Legislative Yuan (LY) caucus heads on visit. DPP and Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) propose limiting conditions for the visit.

Jan. 10, 2014: Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) announces resignation of Vice Chairman and Secretary General Kao Koong-lian.

Jan. 14, 2014: LY adopts resolution limiting MAC Chair Wang on his visit to the mainland.

Jan. 15, 2014: DPP’s Lin Chuan leads a delegation to the mainland.

Jan. 15, 2014: TAO calls for Beijing-Taipei to uphold China’s sovereignty over Diaoyoutai.

Jan. 18, 2014: DPP’s Chen Ming-tung meets TAO Minister Zhang Zhijun.

Jan. 20, 2014: Bank of China’s Taipei branch begins providing yuan cash to banks.

Jan. 22, 2014: Control Yuan report chastises government use of “Taiwan” over “ROC.”

Jan 24, 2014:  Third round of Japan-Taiwan fisheries talks are held and reach agreement allowing fishing boats from both sides to operate in overlapping waters in the East China Sea.

Jan. 28, 2014: MAC Chairman Wang holds a press conference about trip to Nanjing; TAO announces the visit.

Feb. 10, 2014: Taiwan Education Ministry publishes new guidelines for senior high history texts; DPP decries “de-Taiwanization.”

Feb. 11, 2014:  MAC Chairman Wang and TAO Director Zhang meet in Nanjing.

Feb. 13, 2014:  MAC Chairman Wang and TAO Director Zhang meet in Shanghai.

Feb. 17, 2014:  Taiwan stages drill in area of the East China Sea where Taiwan’s and China’s air defense identification zones overlap.

Feb. 18, 2014:  Lien Chan meets General Secretary Xi Jinping in Beijing.

Feb. 21, 2014:  SEF-ARATS meeting reviews implementation of agreements.

Feb. 26, 2014:  President Ma calls for a maritime code of conduct in the East China Sea.

Feb. 27, 2014: Tenth SEF-ARATS Meeting is held in Taipei.

March 6, 2014: Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) Chair Chen Deming says a third venue would be best for a Xi-Ma meeting.

March 12, 2014: LY Committee hearings on the Cross-Strait Services Trade Agreement (CSSTA) begin with no progress made.

March 17, 2014: Facing obstruction, Kuomintang (KMT) convener sends the CSSTA to LY plenary.

March 18, 2014: Sunflower movement students occupy the LY.

March 19, 2014: Taipei District Court rules Speaker Wang should retain KMT membership.

March 22, 2014: Premier Jiang Yi-huah meets with students outside LY.

March 23, 2014: Students occupy Executive Yuan (EY) led by “Black Island Nation Youth Front;” police             evict students.

March 24, 2014:  TAO Minister Zhang Zhijun postpones planned visit to Taiwan.

March 25, 2014: King Pu-tsung becomes secretary-general of ROC National Security Council.

March 28, 2014:  Premier Jiang says CSSTA should be returned to committee for review.

March 30, 3014: Students organize mass rally in front of presidential office.

April 1, 2014: Jiangsu and Fujian delegations postpone Taiwan visits.

April 1, 2014:  TAO Minister receives Su Chi delegation, expresses concern about CSSTA.

April 3, 2014: EY releases draft of cross-strait agreements oversight bill.

April 3, 2014:  DPP again obstructs resumed committee review of CSSTA.

April 6, 2014: Speaker Wang visits students in LY, says LY will pass oversight bill before taking up CSSTA.

April 7, 2014: US House of Representatives adopts HR3470 reaffirming Taiwan Relations Act and authorizing sale of frigates to Taiwan.

April 10, 2014:  Students leave LY peacefully.

April10, 2014: Vincent Siew meets Premier Li Keqiang at Boao Forum.

April 10, 2014:  ROC Marines conduct exercise on Taiping Island.

April 11, 2014: TAO spokesman denies report that Beijing is willing to renegotiate CSSTA.

April 14, 2014: US Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy meets President Ma; Beijing protests visit.

April 14, 2014: DPP obstructs LY committee hearing on oversight bill.

April 15, 2014: TAO spokesperson reiterates there no precedent for renegotiation of the CSSTA.

April 15, 2014: Ministry of Foreign Affairs announces that Taiwan has been invited to observe World Health Assembly for sixth time.

April 16, 2014: President Ma offers to debate DPP’s Tsai on CSSTA; Tsai declines.

April 19, 2014: Japan breaks ground for radar site on Yonaguni Island.

April 20, 2014: Premier Jiang says there is no deadline for passage of CSSTA.