Taiwan will be reunited with China is the message that has been delivered by Chinese President Xi Jinping at an event in Beijing held a day after a defiant speech from Taiwan’s leader, Tsai Ing-wen.
Speaking to SOAS Blogs, Professor Steve Tsang, director of the SOAS China Institute, said:
“Yesterday, China’s President Xi Jinping clarified his policy towards Taiwan in an event to mark the end of active hostilities between Taiwan and Mainland China four decades ago. When he spoke on the same subject a year earlier, he explicitly articulated a determination to use force to make Taiwan part of China, if required. This year he appeared to put greater emphasis on a peaceful approach though he made clear that all options, including the use of force, remain on the table. He also declared that the ‘one country, two systems’ model was the only way forward. His attempt to remove scope for creative interpretation of his words revealed a hardening of position, as Chinese officials who work on Taiwan policy have known for a long time that the ‘one country, two systems’ model, which is in place in Hong Kong, is not acceptable to Taiwan. Xi also completely ignored the fact that the implementation of this very model has been causing great grief among the people of Hong Kong in recent years.
Overall, whether it was intended or not, Xi’s speech comes across as a response to the statement President Tsai Ing-wen made in Taipei the previous day. Tsai stressed the importance of sustaining democracy in Taiwan – and mutual respect on equal footing – as the basis for Taiwan and Mainland China to move forward in their relationship. Xi’s message is that he does not much care about what Tsai has to say on the matter. Xi intends to bring Taiwan under PRC sovereignty before he stands down and he sees a peaceful acceptance of the ‘one country, two systems’ model as the only option for Taiwan, if Taiwan wants to avoid a war. Thus, despite the avoidance of an explicit threat to use force, President Xi has shown no willingness to work with President Tsai or compromise with Taipei.”
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