Beijing has removed references to a “peaceful reunification” in the government’s annual work report as it hardened its stance on Taiwan.
As Beijing strategizes to work on reunification with Taiwan, which is regarded as one of its key national interests, its recent actions have shown a stronger stance according to observers.
Peaceful reunification was always stressed in work reports in the past six years since President Xi Jinping came into power in 2013, with both sides having different interpretations on the 1992 consensus even though both have come to general agreement there is only one China.
Premier Li Keqiang took a different tone in his latest work report, saying: “We will adhere to the major principles and policies on work related to Taiwan and resolutely oppose and deter any separatist activities seeking ‘Taiwan independence’.”
“We will improve institutional arrangements, policies, and measures to encourage exchanges and cooperation between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, further cross-strait integrated development, and protect the well-being of our compatriots in Taiwan,” the report stated.
“We will encourage them to join us in opposing ‘Taiwan independence’ and promoting China’s reunification.”
“With these efforts, we can surely create a beautiful future for the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation,” it said, notably dropping a clause that described the process as “peaceful”.
Both parties are allowed leeway to negotiate an agreement as stated in the 1992 consensus, but Taiwan would never accept it as the basis for cross-strait relations, according to President Tsai Ing-wen.
Beijing’s tout of a “one country, two systems” framework as a political basis for unification with Taiwan, had already put further strain to cross-strait relations according to Mainland Affairs Council on Friday. The council called both sides to iron out their differences.
The difference in wording and the tone in which the work report sounded regarding the Taiwan section may indirectly appear as a warning to Tsai’s independence-leaning DPP (Democratic Progressive Party) according to an international relations specialist at Taiwan’s National Cheng,chi University, Tang Shao-cheng.
“Not mentioning ‘peace’ suggests Beijing is considering unification both by peaceful means and by force,” Tang said.
Beijing would resume to pressure Taiwan through diplomatic, military, economic and psychological means, according to an analyst from US-based think tank Rand Corporation, Derek Grossman.
Grossman says “Beijing will continue to send military aircraft near the island … [it] could decide to end the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement which has remained active in spite of Tsai’s election in 2016; Beijing could steal one or more diplomatic partners from Taipei. I would expect these types of actions to be on the table.”
Beijing is in a dilemma on whether it should maintain economic integration with Taiwan as the political effect it wanted has not come to pass, according to Sun Yun, director of the China programme at the Stimson Centre think tank in the US.
Sun Yun says“The obstacles to unification are not economic, but political. Taiwan is unwilling to pursue unification with an authoritarian mainland. To solve that issue, presumably the mainland could pursue political reform. But in reality, the Chinese Communist Party is unwilling.”
“If the economic and political approach doesn’t work, what’s left is the military approach. But with US intervention, the mainland will not prevail.”
After Mike Pompeo (US Secretary of State) congratulated President Tsai on her second term of office recently, Washington was warned by Beijing that it would take action. Beijing Also insisted that the US cease the sales of arms to Taiwan.
A professor from the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, Joshua Eisenman, said Beijing’s countermeasures were running out, as they were only met with more resistance from the island, and strengthened their spirit to fight for their own identity.
“As I see it, all that remains is for the Chinese Communist Party to sit down and talk to the DPP without preconditions and establish a modus vivendi for cross-strait relations,” he said.
23rd May 2020 18:40
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