Jonathan Adams has an excellent piece in the CS Monitor on the recent agreement, full of useful insights and details, covering almost all the main points.

…..Analysts cautioned that Friday’s deal was just the first – and easiest – step on the long and difficult road toward reconciliation between the two bitter rivals. Critics in Taiwan said President Ma had made too many concessions to China too soon.

Under the deal, cross-strait charter flights will run on weekends starting July 4, shuttling Chinese tourists and Taiwanese businessmen between eight airports in Taiwan and five in the mainland. Ma hopes to realize regularly scheduled, daily flights by the summer of 2009, and see up to 3,000 Chinese tourists per day come to Taiwan.

Local media also reported that the two sides had raised the issues of joint oil exploration and establishing representative offices in each other’s territories to manage exchanges. But Taiwan’s government Friday poured cold water on the proposals, saying Taiwan’s team had not been authorized to negotiate on those issues. “I don’t think that can be accomplished in the foreseeable future,” said Mainland Affairs Council vice chairman Chang Liang-jen, referring to the representative offices.

Another sign of lingering suspicions was the fact that weekend charter flights will not take direct routes across the Taiwan Strait. Instead, they must first fly through Hong Kong airspace, because of security concerns. That will add 90 minutes or more of travel time to flights from Taipei to Shanghai or Beijing.

Has the KMT conceded too much? Ask the military:

The roundabout flight path highlights the challenge of squaring the economic benefits of closer cross-strait ties with national security concerns.

Taiwan’s military, which must plan for the worst, is leery of allowing Chinese passenger planes to fly directly across the strait. “A jet fighter could hide beneath a 747 and appear to be one airplane on radar,” says one Defense Ministry official. “They could use civilian airplanes as camouflage if they want to attack.”

Military officials had also hoped that two airports near sensitive airbases on Taiwan’s rugged east coast would not receive charter flights from China. Those bases – in Hualien and Taitung – are “the last line of defense for air combat,” the defense official says. But the deal includes the two airports.

Still, there are palliatives….

….Andrew Yang, a cross-strait security expert at the Chinese Council of Advanced Policy Studies in Taipei, says that one option under consideration was allowing flights to Shanghai or Beijing to pass through Japanese airspace, which would further reduce flying time.

But he says flights directly across the Taiwan Strait would require negotiated confidence-building measures and “safety corridors.” “If there’s no guarantee of ’safety corridors,’ then it would be easy for the Chinese air force to fully utilize the routes to conduct military strikes,” says Mr. Yang. “That would leave Taiwan no time to respond.”

Ma has raised a high bar for even starting such security talks, saying that China must first withdraw its missiles aimed at Taiwan. “That’s the biggest obstacle that will hamper the negotiation process,” says Yang.

China has about 1,400 short-range ballistic missiles deployed along the coast opposite Taiwan, as well as cruise missiles, according to the latest count from the Taiwan government. To help counter that military threat, Taiwan has requested Patriot anti-missile batteries, F-16 fighter jets, submarines, attack helicopters, and other equipment from the US.

But according to a Washington Post story Thursday, the US has delayed approval of $11 billion worth of those and other purchases. The paper reported that Washington had delayed the approval at Taiwan’s request, as sensitive cross-strait negotiations proceed.

Taiwan’s government declined to comment on that report Friday.

The Washington Post report also said that the Bush Administration had frozen weapons sales to obtain China’s cooperation on North Korea’s nuclear program. The key actors were said to be Sec. of State Rice, and Stephen Hadley.

Adam’s formulaic description of the China-Taiwan sovereignty issue is quite restrained, making no silly references to 1949.

China views self-governed Taiwan as part of its territory, and periodically threatens force to back up its claim. Beijing strongly objects to any US military sales or support for the island.

Taiwan’s pro-independence opposition party said Ma was giving up too much to Beijing in order to make good on campaign pledges to boost cross-strait ties.

“The KMT has traded in defense interests for improved cross-strait relations, and this is extremely dangerous,” says Lin Chen-wei, director of international affairs for the Democratic Progressive Party, and a former National Security Council official. “We’re saying, why are you going so fast? We’re very concerned about their strategic direction.”

Mr. Lin noted that the pro-independence government had laid the groundwork for Friday’s deal in informal talks over the last few years. It negotiated a package deal of cross-strait passenger charter flights, cargo flights, and tourism. But Beijing refused to sign a deal until the more China-friendly KMT retook power last month.

Another sore point is that Friday’s deal does not include cross-strait cargo flights. That’s high on Taiwan businesses’ wish list, because many ship high-tech parts to the mainland for assembly.

According to Lin, Beijing is dragging its feet on such flights because Taiwan’s cargo industry is much stronger than China’s, and because China wants Taiwanese firms to move their R&D and high technology to the mainland.

Let’s see…to obtain the $1-2 billion in revenues from tourists, the KMT has (1) ignored the cargo flights which Taiwan needs; (2) ignored military recommendations that Chinese aircraft not be allowed to fly into certain areas in Taiwan; (3) downplayed the island’s sovereignty; and (4) handed off national policy to negotiators from a particular political party. Note that the DPP’s sensible program included “a package deal” for cargo flights, direct flights, and tourism. The idea that the DPP’s cross-strait policy was “irrational” or “ideological” is strictly a pro-KMT framing.