Late Chinese leader Mao Zedong’s (毛澤東) slogan “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun” remains the doctrine of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). To consolidate its one-party authoritarian rule, the CCP general-secretary serves concurrently as chairman of the Central Military Commission, keeping the party firmly in charge of the military and the government.
Chinese Major General Luo Yuan (羅援) is a researcher at the People’s Liberation Army Academy of Military Sciences. Speaking in Beijing recently, Luo publicly criticized President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) “three noes” policy as one of “peaceful separation.”
Such criticism was rather intriguing. Especially coming at a time when speculation is rife about changes in Taiwan-US relations after the meeting between Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) and US President Barack Obama. Luo’s implied support for promoting unification through the threat of war is brazen.
At a cross-strait seminar titled “60 Years Across the Taiwan Strait” on Nov. 13 and Nov. 14 in Taipei, former CCP Central Party School vice president Zheng Bijian (鄭必堅) and other Chinese academics spoke hawkishly of “peaceful unification” and “one country, two systems.”
Only after the public reacted negatively did they change their tone, adding that what they had said did not necessarily represent Hu’s opinion or intentions. Zheng said he was only expressing his personal view.
Yet knowing the nature of the CCP, who would believe their denials? CCP hawks and doves may propose different means, but they have the same goal: forcing Taiwan to accept unification as soon as possible.
Military hawks, eager to rattle their sabers, want to grab the bull by the horns. As Luo says, if China wants to punish Taiwanese independence through military means, it has to prepare for war. But this approach would inevitably cause fresh problems in the Taiwan Strait and could be unfavorable to cross-strait negotiations and exchanges.
An article I wrote titled “Beijing sees Ma as supporting an independent Taiwan” said that the Young Turks of China’s military believe that Ma’s policies are “a needle wrapped in cotton.” This, because Ma may be able to win greater support from the international community by promoting an “independent Taiwan” rather than “Taiwan independence.”
Ma’s “three noes” policy — “no unification, no independence, no war” — are seen as the key elements of the so-called “independent Taiwan” course.
Those who subscribe to this view of Ma define “independent Taiwan” according to three criteria. First, shared sovereignty, which means that the governments on either side of the Taiwan Strait enjoy separate diplomatic space that does not overlap. Second, coexistence of entities, which means that each side has their own administrative jurisdictions, neither of which is subordinate to the other. Third is maintenance of the “status quo,” “mutual non-denial” and “one China, two interpretations,” under which Taipei says that there is “one China,” but that this “one China” is the Republic of China (ROC). Under such a framework, unification is just an option, not inevitable.
The “independent Taiwan” course came into existence based on the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) perceived interests at the time. It was also substantially influenced by the US’ Asia strategy and China policies. Clearly there are widely divergent views in China regarding Hu’s remarks in a six-point statement he made on New Year’s Eve that “everything is open to discussion.”