However, culture is part of the social superstructure and as such is still quite politically sensitive. Notably, China may make it clear from the outset that, in its view, people living on both sides are “all Chinese” and “all part of the Chinese nation.” Such issues of cultural identity are likely to be raised alongside those belonging to the economic base, such as cultural and creative exchanges and mutual visits by arts groups.
When issues of identity are raised, they are sure to become matters for attack and defense between Taiwan’s rival pan-blue and pan-green political camps.
The next wave of cross-strait negotiations is going to be fraught with difficulty if, as seems likely, the process is subject to heavy criticism by the DPP, and this may even have an impact on the outcome of the 2016 general elections.
While Xi’s early succession as chairman of the CMC will enable him to get a firm grip on power, it also means that he will have to shoulder responsibility for the successes or failures of China’s Taiwan policies earlier than would otherwise have been the case.
Fan Shih-ping is a professor at National Taiwan Normal University’s Graduate Institute of Political Science.
Translated by Julian Clegg