What is the East China Sea peace initiative? When President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) presented this framework for dealing with the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) dispute in August last year, it was generally felt that shelving disputes and working together would be an alternative to interaction and negotiations, aimed at establishing shared understanding and interests and building peace when dealing with clashes over sovereignty. Unexpectedly, just a year later, the essence of this initiative was revealed when China unilaterally declared its East China Sea air defense identification zone (ADIZ). The peace of the East China Sea peace initiative is in fact a selective and bogus peace used to wrap an alliance with China in a veil of virtue.
Taiwan is a victim of China’s ADIZ, but in the name of the East China Sea peace initiative, our president is calling on Japan, the US, China and other concerned countries to act with self-restraint and not to escalate the confrontation, as if he were an outside observer.
China’s unilateral announcement — which was made without holding any talks — is an invasion of aviation freedom in the airspace over international waters, but Taiwan’s government was quick to request that airlines inform China about their flight schedules, thus giving its stamp of approval to China’s attack on the current peace. Let us delve a bit deeper into the government’s contradictory stance.
How do we reach the conclusion that the goal is to enter into an alliance with China, and what is the goal of this alliance? To answer these questions, it is necessary to discuss China’s Taiwan policy following the ascent of Xi Jinping (習近平) to the presidency.
Following the third plenary session of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) 18th National Congress, it has become clear that the strategic goal established by Xi is to formalize the particular political arrangement prior to unification in law.
There are three reasons for this.
The first is that Xi has stabilized his power base by gaining control of the party, government and army in a very short time.
Second, he is a center-left nationalist, and his statement that “to be turned into iron, the metal itself must be strong” makes it clear that he is a hardliner.
Finally, he was not pleased with former Chinese president Hu Jintao’s (胡錦濤) China policy. Hu, in turn, was not pleased with the Taiwan policy of his predecessor, former Chinese president Jiang Zemin (江澤民), because he felt that although Jiang was threatening Taiwan to force it to rein in its horses, every time Taiwan neared the edge of the cliff, he would just find ways to extend the solid ground beneath her feet.
That was why Hu created the “Anti-Secession” Law, which states: “In the event that the ‘Taiwan independence’ secessionist forces should act under any name or by any means to cause the fact of Taiwan’s secession from China, or that major incidents entailing Taiwan’s secession from China should occur or that possibilities for a peaceful reunification should be completely exhausted, the state shall employ non-peaceful means and other necessary measures to protect China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Xi believes that Hu was successful in opposing Taiwanese independence, but that his contributions to promote unification were very limited. The expanded cross-strait exchanges have increased Taiwanese understanding of China with the result that identification with China has dropped, and this matters to China.