Thu, Nov 29, 2012 - Page 8 News List

China’s slow but steady changes

By Tung Chen-yuan 童振源

Second, it should be remembered that former Chinese president Jiang Zemin (江澤民) and his successor, Hu, did not come up with new policy frameworks for Taiwan until they had been in power for two years. In the short term, Xi can be expected to act similarly by focusing most of his energies on solving internal problems and will most likely not come up with a new policy framework for Taiwan for some time.

Third, Hu’s political report at the CCP’s 18th Party Congress indicated that the party envisages the task of peaceful unification with Taiwan as being divided into two stages.

During the present stage, it will promote the peaceful development of relations between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait and strengthen the basis for cross-strait unification, including political, economic, cultural and social aspects. Therefore, future cross-strait negotiations will probably no longer be limited to economic matters, but rather involve talks on diverse issues.

Notably, Hu’s report said that expanding cross-strait cultural exchanges can enhance a common sense of national identity. Such exchanges are therefore likely to be one of the key elements of future negotiations.

Fourth, the CCP will want to use negotiations to promote the institutionalization of cross-strait relations. It will want to discuss cross-strait political relations under the special conditions that prevail while Taiwan and China are not yet unified, and to talk about a cross-strait mechanism of mutual trust in military affairs and negotiate a cross-strait peace agreement.

The Chinese government has repeatedly called for political negotiations, but the Ma administration has turned it down every time. Following Hu’s report, Ma reiterated that now is not the right time to push for a cross-strait peace agreement. The CCP will at least put pressure on the Ma administration to strengthen the two sides’ common understanding on upholding a “one China” framework, and to bring its political pronouncements and actions more in line with that framework.

Fifth, China will expect more equality and mutual benefit in cross-strait economic exchanges instead of always offering Taiwan one-sided preferential treatment. In his political report at the CCP’s 17th Party Congress five years ago, Hu emphasized that China would “make every effort to achieve anything that serves the interests of our Taiwan compatriots.”

However, in his report at this year’s Party Congress, Hu said that China would “make every effort to do anything that will promote the common well-being of compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.”

This adjustment from “Taiwan” to “both sides” was reflected in a comment made by Chinese Minister of Commerce Chen Deming (陳德銘) during a press conference following the 18th Party Congress. Chen said that he hoped Taiwan would allow imports from China of products that it already allows from other countries, in accordance with the most favored nation principle and the principle of equality.

The sixth and last point is that China will continue to interact with Taiwan’s main opposition party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). At the CCP’s 17th Party Congress, Hu said: “We are ready to conduct exchanges, dialogue, consultations and negotiations with any political party in Taiwan on any issue as long as it recognizes that both sides of the Strait belong to one and the same China,” but at the 18th Party Congress, the wording had been changed to “any political party in Taiwan as long as it does not seek Taiwanese independence and recognizes the one China principle.”

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